We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but there are times when it feels like others have more time on their hands. How do they have enough time to do everything that needs to be done all in one day? Time blocking just might be the answer you’re looking for. But what is time blocking? How does it work, exactly?
Time blocking is a powerful tool that’s been used in some form or variation by project managers all throughout the business world. It’s been said that you cannot manage time, but with proper planning, thoughtful prioritization, and careful execution, managing tasks can be possible. Thus, time management becomes a reality.
We will be learning all about time blocking in this article and how it can be applied to everyday work life. Actually, you can use it even when you’re at home, doing chores. However, for today, we’ll be focusing on how time blocking can help project managers accomplish everything that they need to on a daily basis.
Now that we’ve answered the question “What is time blocking?” we can move on to the finer details, namely:
It’s possible that you might have been time blocking for a while, but you’re just not aware of it. Here, we will give you a few ideas on how you can further streamline your approach to time blocking as a project scheduling, productivity, and time management strategy.
If you’ve had enough of moving items from one day’s to-do list to the following workday because you’re having problems focusing and finishing everything on your list, it might be time to start time blocking. Getting started is the easy part. Here are five questions to ask yourself to get started:
1. When are you most productive?
Different people function differently during various times of the day. One person might work better during the early hours of the morning while another might have a better time focusing in the afternoon when the post-lunch slump makes everyone else quieter and they can concentrate on the job that needs to get done.
How do you find out when you’re most productive? Pay close attention to your work patterns and results. Which time of the day are you able to attack your to-do list with gusto and cross out as many items as you can? When are you able to really focus on your project? Once your research is done, you can then use your answers to do project management with time blocks.
2. Which tasks do you need to complete?
List down all of your regular tasks and spread them out throughout the day, making sure to schedule those that recur daily, weekly, and monthly. You can utilize Kanban boards to help you get a graphic representation of where your chores should go and how they should be spaced out based on the time block that you’ve chosen.
3. How much time do you need per task?
Think about the amount of time you would need to complete a given task that you have on your to-do list. To avoid miscalculations, go through your day, work on your usual task list, and use a timer app to track how long it takes for you to finish each and every one of them. This not only gives you an idea of how long an activity takes you, but it also shows you where you need more discipline or to practice the time management strategy that works for you.
4. Which items do you need to prioritize?
Part of the most popular project manager tips is prioritizing tasks for better time management, productivity, and work-life balance. Start by surveying all the things that you need to get done, then move on to their importance and the amount of time each one should take you. Let those that would take more time and effort take precedence on your project scheduling and make your way down your task list. To better illustrate your tasks’ priority levels, you can use Gantt charts.
5. Do you have enough personal time?
Keep in mind that even the best warriors require reprieve from the battlefield from time to time. As do you. While you’re creating your to-do list, setting a priority for each task, and allotting time for every one of them, remember that you also need to make time for rest. Whether it’s 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour, there have to be certain periods within the day when you step away from your workstation to eat, stretch your legs, or take a power nap. Allowing yourself a bit of downtime here and there is essential in attaining work-life balance.
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There are numerous ways in which you can practice time blocking in your everyday work life. All it requires is a methodical approach to how you tackle your task list. If you’re not sure where to start, here are five of the most popular and helpful time blocking techniques that you can try:
1. Basic Time Blocking
In its most basic form, time blocking separates the day into different time slots. This is based on your needs or preferences. You can either divide your day into hourly increments to make up the 8-hour workday or assign a task to each increment to cover every aspect of project management that you need to accomplish on a given day. Then, you block that increment, meaning you’re not to do anything else or be disturbed as you’re scheduled to be focused on your scheduled task only.
2. Day Theming
This is essentially like a chore day at home when Fridays are food shopping days, Saturdays are laundry days, and so on. Day theming is a time blocking technique wherein you devote one entire day to a particular enterprise rather than breaking the day down into chunks of time. If you happen to be a project manager who is working on a long-term project or planning for something potentially big, this technique is for you.
For a project manager, this could be creating or updating the project documentation, training new team members, or conducting one-on-one meetings with one team member after another.
3. Task batching
Task batching is the method of assigning a group of tasks to blocks of time rather than tackling one single, specific task at a time. When you cluster similar tasks together, you improve your workflows and maximize productivity because you’re not interrupting your brain while it’s in the middle of even the most monotonous tasks.
For example, you have meetings to attend on a given day. You can clump two or three meetings in the latter half of the day as a means of task batching.
4. The Eisenhower Matrix
This technique requires more research and pre-work time before it is actually put into use. What you do is prioritize your tasks first. Those high-priority and urgent tasks get to be addressed first, and then you can move on to those tasks that are not too important or urgent. This method is most helpful if you want to make sure you will have more than ample time left in the day to complete every other job that you need to complete by finishing those that might need more of your time and attention first.
5. The Pomodoro Technique
You will need a physical timer for this technique, whether it’s a timer like the one your mom uses in the kitchen, an app, or the timer that you have on your phone. Users usually block off 45 minutes for a specific activity and then the remaining 15 minutes in the hour for a short break. The work-to-break-time ratio can change, and this depends on the weight of the chore or how complicated it is. The Pomodoro Technique forces project managers to focus on the task at hand until the timer goes off, signaling them to either take a short break or move on to the next item on their to-do list.
Once you’re done creating your to-do list, assigning a priority to each item, and figuring out which time management technique to go with, you need to get the right tools. There are a lot of them to make time blocking really work, but here are some of our favorites:
Timer – It’s best to use an online app that’s plugged into your reporting tools at work. Not only will you be able to track the amount of time you will need for each job, but you’re also better able to track your productivity and use the data for payroll.
Kanban boards & Gantt charts – If you want a picture of your project management with time blocks, you can use Kanban boards or Gantt charts. You can assign a color to each to-do list item based on priority level and improve your workflow by seeing how tasks correlate with one another.
Task time tracker – A specific timer that tracks how much time each task actually takes to get done. Yes, please. Task time tracking does well in assessing efficiency and productivity and preventing overloading.
Calendar – It would help a lot if you could get a personal calendar that you can share with your team or connect with your team calendar. This will make scheduling team meetings, one-on-one coaching sessions, and task delegation a breeze.
You’ll know you need to start practicing one form of time management or project scheduling when you’re struggling to catch your breath, finding it difficult to rest in between work days, unable to squeeze in personal days, or simply overloaded and overworked.
Keep in mind that you, being a project manager, are vital too, since a lot is dependent on your presence in the workplace. As such, you need to look after yourself and should not have to “squeeze in” break times. These should be plotted in your project scheduling and ready to be enjoyed. If you want to maximize your potential and be able to push your team to always be at their best, you should make time for breaks and be refreshed.
Project management with time blocks will not only help in avoiding burnout and demotivation, but you will also be able to see which work items you can delegate or assign a lesser priority to. From here, you can have more time for other things like connecting with your team and clients and so much more.
If you’re not sure where to start or where to look for the tools for use in time blocking or time management, Bitrix24 has all the solutions you may require. From task monitoring to time tracking, calendars, Gant charts, and Kanban boards – absolutely everything!Make Bitrix24 your all-in-one life source for everything time blocking and watch your productivity, time management, and output quality improve by leaps and bounds. Let Bitrix24 help you apply project management with time blocks, and sign up today!
Time blocking is a time management strategy used for optimal productivity wherein a period of time, usually any given day of the week, is divided into segments or blocks to enable the completion of tasks or items on one’s to-do list.
TA project manager’s schedule management is enhanced by time blocking by allowing them to be more organized and more capable of driving their personal efficiency and productivity further. By focusing on one task during a specific block of time, project managers are able to move on to the next item on their to-do list quickly.