If you're like most business owners, you have a ton on your plate. On any given day, you're corresponding with clients, following up on leads, or communicating with your team. And for a busy entrepreneur, it's easy to get caught up in a mess of tasks.
If you find yourself working overtime or continuously asking where the time has gone, block scheduling could be the solution.
What is block scheduling?
Block scheduling, sometimes known a time blocking, is a time management tactic that batches similar tasks to increase productivity throughout the week. For example, instead of emailing prospects randomly throughout the week, you can schedule a 2-hour block two times a week to focus on business development. Giving focused time and attention to your tasks by blocking out time to complete them will help save the time normally lost switching between tasks or deciding what to tackle next.
In short, block scheduling provides a structure to your tasks, so rather than having an ongoing to-do list, you can plot out time in your schedule to complete those tasks, so you never fall behind on a deadline.
To control your schedule and increase your productivity, you need to give yourself time to plan. Before getting started, you'll want to identify your goals, dump out all of your tasks and prioritize them through the lens of achieving your goals
With your task list in hand, follow these steps to create a block schedule:
- Identify the Blocks
Based on your task list, Identify the major categories. For example, accountability meetings would fall under leadership, prospecting would fall under sales or BD, and so on.
- Enter all tasks you complete monthly / weekly / daily into the task list
List out everything you do and don't hold back. Include emails, meetings, administrative work. If it needs to get done, put it on your list so you can ensure you find a space for it in your calendar.
- Assign a time to each task
Estimate how long each item will take to complete. Be realistic – how much time will this really take you. If something seems too big to calculate a time for, this could indicate that you should be breaking it down into smaller tasks.
- Categorize each of your tasks
Decide where each task fits with the blocks identified in step 1.
- Determine how many hours you want to work in a week
To get in control of your schedule and create the plan you want, you need to set some boundaries. That means deciding not only how many hours you want to work but when you want to work. That could mean working 8 am to 4 pm or working four 10-hour days to take Fridays off to spend with your family. Decide what those boundaries are and factor that into your planning.
- Schedule your week
Starting with your most important category, add every single weekly task into the calendar. This should match your hour counts to tasks. Keep adding your tasks until you hit your weekly hour count.
The tricky part is understanding how you work to schedule tasks based on when you will be most productive. Remember to be mindful of deadlines. Try to schedule time-sensitive items early on in the week.
- Track, review, and adjust
Once you've set a schedule, you can track how long each batch of tasks is completed. Did you stay on track? Do you need more or less time to complete your tasks? This process is iterative; it will take regular attention and focus to become great at effectively block scheduling. Once you've got a good understanding of your working habits, use that to keep yourself accountable and productive.
Now that you know what to do, try creating your own block schedule with our Block Scheduling Planning tool.
And to help you tweak your schedule to be even more productive, here are some additional tips:
- Plan ahead. Take time out of each week and each month to plan ahead. Identify any bottlenecks early.
- Make time for administrative tasks. Dedicate a day or 1/2 day each week to managing admin-type tasks – they may not be fun, but at least you can knock it all out together.
- Measure and adjust. As you get more skilled at time blocking, tweak to optimize.
- Start today. Don't push it off. Start making that list and putting the tasks in your calendar right away.
- Allow space for interruptions. Plan time in your calendar for things to go awry. Consider starting with an hour every day so when something unexpected comes up, you have some wiggle room in your calendar.
- Avoid the email trap. Once you have your plan, try to start your day by looking at your calendar first before diving into emails. Create an email block each day and stick to it.
- Keep it simple. If the stock schedule is too detailed, it will be too complicated to execute for a sustained time period and won't last
- Be realistic. Judging how long a task will take is a hard skill to master, and if you're not confident try to add 30% or double how long you think something will take. Nothing will make you go off scheduling faster than not hit any of the timelines you set out.
By incorporating these techniques and developing these habits over time, you will get in control of your schedule and maximize your productivity.
If productivity isn't your strong suit, and you don't know where to start, you don't have to go at it alone. Schedule a free two-hour session to dig into your business and develop a plan.
Build an Effective, Productive Workplace
The success of your business depends on the success and productivity of your team. While it’s important to lead by example by increasing your own efficiency, it’s just as important to get your team aligned on the right priorities to boost your profit, and hit those long-term goals.
This isn’t an easy task, so we’ve developed a Free Team Productivity Guide to help you empower your team to prioritize and work faster to get results.