Has this ever happened to you? You started the day motivated, full of good intentions to get a lot accomplished, but nothing got done. You let another productive day slip away.
It’s not easy to keep yourself disciplined and focused on your most important work, especially when you are only accountable to yourself. Interruptions, notifications, email, and interesting information steal our focus and time. It happens to the best of us. How can you stay focused and on task to get your most important work done?
The answer is time blocking.
I mentioned this to a client who said, “I suck at time blocking. But go ahead, let’s talk about it.”
Time blocking is NOT scheduling every minute of your day.
Time blocking is setting aside time on your calendar to do your most important work. It’s simple. Block out a chunk of time to work on your top priority and just do it.
Blocking the time is easy. Doing the right thing during that time isn’t always so easy. So what do you do?
Get crystal clear on the task to be performed during the time block. You want to sit down and do the work, not spend the whole time figuring out what to do. Be specific enough to act.
Protect the time. For real. If this is truly your most important work, silence your phone, shut the door, close open tabs, and eliminate distractions. Put a sign on your door if necessary. No, you don’t have a sec. You want to get in the zone and stay there. The rest of it can wait.
Schedule the right amount of time. Don’t automatically default to a 30-minute or one-hour time block, especially if the task is small. Your most important work may be a 15-minute task. Remember Parkinson’s Law: work expands (or contracts) to fill the time available. Conversely, your most important work may be a bigger project. Break it down into manageable pieces and time block the pieces. Or set a longer time-block and take short breaks to stay fresh, then get back to work.
Don’t time block everything. Time blocking isn’t the same as scheduling. Sure, might have a general plan for batching phone calls, checking email, working on a marketing piece, etc. When everything’s important, nothing’s important.
Try this tomorrow. Review your priorities and block time to do your most important work. It will take repeated practice to make this a habit, but it’s the repeated action that leads to results.