When I started getting into time blocking, I had to fight back the urge to sit down at the beginning of the week and block off time days in advance. Of us who start off each morning with a game plan, know that plan can be thrown out the window within hours. Not to mention what was the top priority at hour one, may not be the top priority by hour two.
What I’ve found that works for me is following the below steps:
- Block off the time on my weekly calendar for the important meetings already scheduled.
- If any of the meetings require prep work, block off the appropriate amount of time before the meeting.
- Make a list of my priorities for the week.
- Block off time Monday morning to work on the top item(s) on my list.
I usually leave the first half hour of the morning open to allow time for the miscellaneous tasks waiting for me when I get to work. Process email, etc. I will also leave a half hour or an hour free space between and time I block off for meetings or focused work to allow time for everything and anything else that might need my attention.
Leaving gaps between my blocked time allow me to handle the small fires that might pop up before they turn into raging infernos. The gaps also allow flexibility with my blocked timed as well. If I'm making great headway on a task, I can keep the momentum going for another half hour. Or if I've made enough progress on the task, I can still keep that momentum going by pulling in the next task that I have time blocked off for later in the day.
I try to limit the time block scheduling to only the next work day when planning ahead. As I mentioned above, I'll save time to prepare for meetings, or if I have a specific due date for a project. But over all I follow the same routine.
- Plan out a day that morning or the night before.
- At the end of the day, start planning the next day base on what I got done and what new priorities emerged.
- Next morning, fine tune the night before's plan if required.
As tempting as it can be, try not to plan too far ahead of yourself. It will lead to frustration. Time management has to be a bit fluid in order for it to work.