The Secret to Being More Productive Is All About That One Thing
- Do you run your day, or does your day run you?
- Did you know something that’s supposed to be a good thing—multitasking—might just be your evil nemesis?
- Have you tried all kinds of time management tools, to no avail?
- How would you like to get better control and be ridiculously productive?
- I ask a lot of questions, do I not?
Well, time blocking might be your answer. It is the one thing that is finally working for me, a former serial multi-tasker.
First, you might wonder, what is wrong with multitasking? Aren’t I getting a lot of things done, jumping from task to task? I’m sure you are doing a lot of tasks—but doing them efficiently, well and completing them is another thing. Notice the time it takes for you to internally shift from one task to the next—from phone call to email to writing to researching. A full day of this hopping about adds up. Whenever you switch from one to the next, you’re actually losing productivity and focus and wasting valuable time.
Plus, multitasking is reactive—phone rings, you answer it. Client messages you, you respond. What happens to your plan for the day? Shot to hell. Someones and somethings else just managed to take over your day.
Now you can get control back by being proactive with time blocking. It’s such a simple concept—but brilliantly effective. Time blocking is simply working on only one thing for a set amount of time. Setting a date, time, and length for each work unit—and keeping on task till you finish what you started.
Some examples of time blocking might be: On Wednesday from 9 to 10 a.m. I’ll sit down and make 20 phone calls from my leads list until I finish the list or the hour is up—whichever comes first. From 10 to 10:30 I’ll answer emails. From 10:30 to 10:45 I’ll take a stretch break or take a walk. You get the idea.
The hardest part about time blocking is having a plan to deal with interruptions to your time blocking plan. The random client phone call or text or email. You can be reactive and jump to respond (thereby destroying your plan)—or you can time-block a portion of your day to reply to those incoming communications. This takes some strength of will to manage. But the more times you choose to hold to your plan, the easier it will become for you to stick to your guns and even feel good about saying no to interruptions.
Here are 14 quick ways to help you deal with distractions:
- Set a deadline
- Use a timer
- Stay hydrated and properly fueled
- Get off email/RSS mailing lists
- Write out a plan
- Get up earlier
- Close your door
- Turn off email
- Create an “always answer” list
- White noise machine
- Have a scheduled break to “do stuff”
- Use a private office
- Find out what distracts you – get rid of that
- Make a list
Time blocking is so amazing it can work in many areas of your life beyond work. Because it’s about setting priorities and protecting them. Think about other areas where you’d like to manage your time and honor your commitments to yourself and others:
- Family time
- Planning for the upcoming week
- Flex time
- Travel time
Commit to trying time blocking for a week and see if it doesn’t change your sense of accomplishment, and your actual completion of work. Because multitasking, while it sounds great—wow, you can do a lot of things—isn’t all that great if you’re not finishing tasks.
Be a time blocker. Be a finisher.
My blogging time is up! And… she’s done.