Ok, so time blocking isn’t exclusively used by Elon Musk. It’s been around for a while and is implemented by brainy hotshots like Bill Gates and Cal Newport, who have hectic schedules too.
But with everything that’s on Elon’s plate at the moment; Space X, the new Tesla release, and let’s not forget his icy tweets, it’s no wonder that he needs to break his day down into five-minute segments. And, let’s face it, it seems to work; the man gets stuff done. So if you want to be able to juggle multiple companies (or multiple meetings, phone calls, emails and reviews) and spare some time for your Twitter fans too, here’s how to master the time blocking method.
What is this time blocking business?
Time blocking is quite self-explanatory. You organise your day into (traditionally) five-minute segments and pre-plan your tasks so that you’re not wasting any time pfaffing about, being unproductive. Five-minute allotments tend to work best for CEO’s, managers, or people who deal with a lot of people on a daily basis. If you are just beginning or your work leads you to tasks that tend to take longer to complete, consider adjusting this to slightly longer segments instead.
How do I do it?
You can time block your day on paper or in an excel spreadsheet. Try using Google Sheets if you have a secretary or need to share your daily schedule with multiple people so that they can also access it easily. Break down your day into your chosen time interval (by five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen or thirty, for example) and then work on filling in each segment with a task. If you have larger tasks, try breaking them into smaller sub-tasks to maximise productivity.
Before you get all up in arms, we know what you’re thinking. What about those tasks that pop up out of the blue and require your immediate attention? How do these fit into your meticulously planned day? Blocking in buffer time between your segments will account for these unexpected tasks (which we all know happen), and allow you to deal with them as they occur without messing up your whole schedule too dramatically.
Review how long tasks take for future planning.
Yes, each day you will need to block in time for creating the next day’s schedule. This may chew up quite a few of your segments, to begin with. But if you persevere with the method for a week or so, you’ll notice trends in how long recurring tasks take to complete and be able to slot them into your day effortlessly. At first, you may realise that you haven’t realistically left enough time to complete particular tasks, but with a little trial and error, and a good dash of determination, you’ll be able to get planning down to a fine art.
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The benefits of time blocking, at a glance.
There is a bucketload of benefits involved with the time blocking method for people who have crazy busy work schedules or those who feel like they only spend one hour per day being productive. Once you start, you may realise just how much time you were wasting on inconsequential things, or how much quicker you can now complete particular tasks. All because you’ve trained yourself to move faster and concentrate on one thing at a time. Here are just a handful of the positives you’ll enjoy when mastering the time blocking method:
You don’t fixate on one task. You complete it in the time allocated and move on. This is especially useful for anyone that labours over responding to emails.
You get more done. You don’t waste time prioritising and sorting through tasks, or getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty.
You learn to think quickly and become deadline driven.
You tackle large tasks in small steps, making their completion appear less daunting.
You get a more realistic idea of how long everyday tasks take.
You proactively make time for things that often fall by the wayside when you haven’t planned your days, such as eating lunch, helping your kids with their homework and exercising