If you feel overwhelmed with organizing your time at work, and are looking for a better way to organize your time and make the most out of it, you’ve probably heard of time blocking. It is a time management tool that aims to help users prioritize their tasks.
In this article, we will explain what is time blocking, its advantages, disadvantages and important elements to consider before implementing it. With these facts and some tips, you can decide if it is a useful strategy for your needs and preferences.
- Time blocking is a technique that aims to improve productivity, concentration, and time management by dividing similar activities by blocks.
- With this tool, you will be able to organize your time better and use it more effectively with as little waste as possible.
- While it is a popular technique, it’s not for everyone. So you should try it out before deciding whether it’s for you or not.
What you should know about time blocking
Before looking for time blocking templates or apps, you should understand what time blocking is about and what elements you need to consider before implementing it. Remember that not all techniques work the same for everyone, therefore, we also share some disadvantages of implementing it.
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What is time blocking?
Time blocking is a technique that aims to improve productivity by assigning a specific time to each activity. With this method, the workday is divided into blocks of time as required by each task, and breaks can also be included.
This technique is used to know what, when and for how long it is required to perform one or more activities, which helps to prioritize tasks. The reason behind it is that the human brain is not designed for multitasking with complex activities (1).
Multitasking is the ability to perform several activities at the same time
Differences between time blocking and timeboxing
There are several types of time management strategies similar to time blocking, but each one has its own characteristics. Here is a comparison chart between time blocking and timeboxing.
|Time blocking||Allocate a large block of time to work on similar tasks together|
|Timeboxing||Assigns each specific task its individual time with start and end time|
Benefits of time blocking
Time blocking has many benefits for time organization and productivity improvement. Among these are the following:
- Prevents procrastination, that is, the habit of delaying activities for others of lesser importance.
- Helps improve concentration on activities that require more attention.
- Makes it easier to keep a temporary record of activities to be done and those already done,
- It boosts personal satisfaction by successfully completing several important and essential tasks.
- Increases individual and team productivity.
Time blocking makes it possible to successfully plan and organize our time. Experts say that being an organized person is often synonymous with success, both at work and outside the workplace (2).
Important elements of time blocking
Time blocking has two important elements that shape and define the way it works. You should consider them as fundamental before carrying it out.
- Grouping or batching of tasks: it is essential to keep track of the simplest activities and group them together to reduce the overall time spent on similar tasks. You can organize them according to the time, area, or level of common concentration they require individually.
- Time tracking: this is a business strategy for the purpose of billing services according to hours worked. It is ideal if your work requires you to keep a log of hours worked for reporting and charging clients. See the best Time Tracking Software
How do I know if time blocking will work for me?
Although it sounds tempting to try a new technique, not all methods are ideal for everyone, so you should consider whether you really need it. Some signs that time blocking might be a useful tool for you are the following:
- You perform several activities at the same time, and you feel overwhelmed.
- You find it difficult to schedule time for each activity according to its urgency.
- You find it difficult to concentrate on a task.
- You are easily distracted.
- You need to manage your time and energy at work and when away.
- You are overworked and feel that your time management may be affecting you.
- You lose track of the time you spend on each activity.
How to get started with time blocking?
If you have already decided that this is a useful tool for you, we recommend you first analyze the tasks that can be grouped together. But remember that you should not despair if it doesn’t work the first time or if you find it difficult to implement.
First, you can begin with 15-30 minute blocks for simple tasks. After that, you can start with more complex tasks for 2-3 hour blocks. Remember that the importance of the tasks is assigned by you. Here, you can assign a point system according to its urgency as accurately as possible (3).
For example, if on arrival at work you need to check and answer e-mails before delivering reports on the previous day’s results, the first should have a higher priority. But, if you only need a couple of minutes for the last one, you should ideally do it before the rest of the team and clients start their day.
Tips for effective time blocking
Remember to practice and don’t push yourself if you don’t get it right on the first try. So, here are some tips that can make time blocking more effective.
- Plan your weekly schedule, but don’t copy and paste it from every day unless necessary.
- Practice the technique of batching tasks, in trial-and-error form.
- Include time for unplanned activities, be flexible.
- Test what time of day you feel most focused on complex activities.
- Explore which apps can help you with organization and experiment with them until you find the right one for your needs.
- Avoid distractions. Especially cell phones, which have become an addiction with personal, social and work-related consequences (4).
Disadvantages of time blocking
While this technique has many benefits, there are some disadvantages that will vary from person to person. For example, for some users, it is very strict and there is no freedom to choose what action to take.
For others, it can be overwhelming to see a rigidly structured calendar full of activities. Also, for some workers, the digital divide may be an inconvenience in case they need a specific application.
Time blocking is a popular time management tool, as it aims to increase work productivity. By grouping similar tasks together, you organize your time according to the importance and time required for each activity.
As with other similar management techniques, this one requires practice and adjustment to your preferences, as the goal is to make it work for you. Just because a specific model works successfully for one person, does not mean it is ideal for you and vice versa.
1. Multitasking: Switching costs [Internet]. Apa.org. 2022. Available from: https://www.apa.org/topics/research/multitasking
2. Martinez LB, Stepien A. Efficiency and productivity in architecture [Internet]. Google Books. Los Libros De La Catarata; 2020 [cited 2022 Sep 28]. Available from: https://books.google.com.mx/books?hl=es&lr=&id=JHIJEAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT7&dq=time+blocking+benefits&ots=m6I3iIYodf
3. Roger I Andrés V. Activity prioritization system. upcommons.upc.edu [Internet]. 2017 Jun 15 [cited 2022 Sep 28]; Available from: https://upcommons.upc.edu/handle/2117/111134
4. Delena M. ADINA ROSARIO LIBRARY TECHNOLOGICAL ADDICTION [Internet]. Available from: https://adinarosario.com.ar/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/V.1987adiccion.tecnologica.pdf