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How I save hours every week thanks to time blocking! — Mode and the city

How I save hours every week thanks to time blocking

Time management is a central element of our professional and personal lives: Obviously, we all want to manage our time well in order to be more productive, achieve our goals but also free up time for ourselves, for our hobbies and for what makes us feel good and matters to us… but often it’s more easy to say that done!

For years, when I thought about the weather and my schedule, I felt instantly overwhelmed. The thought that ruled my mindset at the time was that I would never have enough time to do everything I needed to do anyway. I saw time as a resource I was perpetually lacking and after which he constantly ran. When people asked me how I was doing, I almost always answered that I was “underwater”, almost like an automatic, constantly reinforcing this idea that time was slipping through my fingers.

After my burnout at the end of 2019I questioned many things in my life and in particular I tried to rethink my relationship with time by looking more closely at this feeling of always being « too busy ». I realized that being overwhelmed had eventually become almost an addiction and that being constantly « under water » had become an identity for me.

Over the last 3 years I’ve played and tried a lot of things to try and get my time back, but also get rid of this need to be busy all the time (mostly because of work in my case) to feel like I exist : I learned to set goals and make motivating but realistic to-do lists, to delegate (it was super hard for me), to allow myself to do less without feeling guilty, to divide my work time better in my free time. and also – and even above all – detaching myself from perfectionism and mental rumination (which I have achieved largely thanks to to coaching) that cost me a lot of time every day.

Today I am still on the road and my time management is not always ideal though I still feel like I’ve managed to redefine my relationship with time, in a healthier, more conscious way that suits me much better. In this article I wanted to focus on a time management tool that helps me tremendously in this process: time blocking!

Why do I use time blocking?

I have been using the “time blocking” method (or time blocking management in French) for 6 months now and it has truly revolutionized my organization and daily time management, with huge benefits for my professional and personal life . . This method of time management, very popularized by Cal Newportit consists of dividing your day into blocks of time that you dedicate to specific tasks.

I’ve always really liked this idea of ​​blocking off set periods to work while I’m 100% focused, including the Pomodoro method that I’ve been using for years and that I’ve told you about in this article in 2017 I Gretchen Rubin’s « Hour of Power. »which invites you to block yourself for 1 hour to tackle all the tasks that have been left hanging around for too long because they are often painful or unstimulating.

Time blocking is a method that I have really found very effective in managing my time better. : By blocking off time slots for specific tasks, I manage to plan my days better and be much more productive and focused on my tasks. By precisely defining my daily tasks and the time I spend on them thanks to time blocking, I avoid it fatigue to make decisions that made me lose a significant amount of time daily : now, in the morning, when I sit behind my desk, I know exactly what I’m going to do (I’ve already planned it) and I’m no longer scattered, I wonder where to start.

This method also allowed mebeing honest with myself about how long things take me, that makes me feel responsible for my schedule and is no longer a « victim » of my schedule like before. Also, knowing exactly what I have to do and when I have to do it/I’m planning to do it, I also greatly reduced the pressure and anxiety associated with managing my schedule, which had a very positive impact on my mental health.

Finally, by rethinking my time, I was also able to create more time for my free time and hobbies, without reducing the workload – magic! You know when we sometimes say we wish we had an extra day in the week? This is honestly what I feel like I’ve created with time blocking!

How do I use time blocking?

Here’s how I incorporate time blocking into my daily life:

1 – On Sunday evening, I identify all my tasks (professional and personal) for the coming week by making a to-do list. If I have a particularly busy week, I prioritize my tasks according to their importance and urgency so that I can make decisions if necessary (if there are not enough time slots to allocate in the week, lower priority tasks will be postponed, delegated or Abandoned). I also plan my free and leisure time as well as other tasks. Once the tasks are placed on my calendar, I get rid of my to-do list (yes, yes, you read that right): I no longer need it because all the to-dos are placed on my calendar. It’s so freeing to stop having a to-do list!

2 – I determine how long each task will take me. The idea is to plan the day as accurately as possible. Personally, I work in 30 minute time slots, that’s what works well for me. It’s important to be realistic about how long each task will take.

3 – I block time: once I figure out how long each task will take, I block my time based on those tasks. For example, if I estimate that a task will take me two hours, I block off 4 30-minute slots on my calendar for that task. Here you can use a calendar, a dedicated app or a notepad. I personally use Notion software and have created a page for each day with a half hour by half hour table as below.

1688952529 806 How I save hours every week thanks to time blocking

4 – I am realistic when it comes to planning my day : I don’t overload my schedule with too many tasks and make sure to leave time for the unexpected. Every week, I plan 2 hours (that I block in my calendar) that I call « unexpected » (a tip from my trainer Cristina). So when things get added to my to-do list during the week (which I hadn’t planned on Sunday evening), I know I already have time planned to schedule them.

5 – I stay focused : When I’m working on a task, I focus only on that task. I avoid distractions and interruptions as much as possible (it’s hard but it takes work) To stay focused, I also make sure to schedule rest times. (which I also have in my schedule blocking a slot).

6 – I regularly evaluate my schedule to make sure I’m budgeting reasonably realistically my time blocks and that I’m on track to meet my daily or weekly goals. If I find I need more time for a task, I adjust my schedule accordingly. I try to stay flexible and change my schedule if necessary, without beating myself up if I don’t stick strictly to the time slots I initially set for myself.

Every Friday, I take a few minutes to audit my week: “Did I manage to do everything I planned to do? « , « Have I blocked out my time correctly? », « Do I tend to overestimate or underestimate how long a task will take me? », « What should I readjust for next week? » This is especially helpful in the beginning, when you start to use time blocking and sometimes find it difficult to define how long a task will take.

Make time blocking work for you!

I have presented here the way I use time blocking For me but this method obviously suits YOU, according to your limitations, your desires, your personal and professional situation, your preferences! I like to share with you my personal experience, what works for me, but it will necessarily be different for everyone!

My approach may seem a little too rigid and military to some (which I can totally understand, that’s what Vincent thinks haha). Personally, rigor, framework and precision help me enormously to work though someone who needs more freedom can use the time blocking method in a different way : blocking off 2 hour slots instead of 30 minutes for example and/or being less precise in the title of each blog – plan a 2 hour blog for « creative time » or 1 hour for « project brainstorming in progress », for example. You might even consider using time blocking only on certain days of the week or during a certain period (as part of a project launch, for example). It’s up to you to try what works for you if you want 🙂

And you?

Do you have another method of organizing your time? Is this one of your concerns? How would you use time blocking for YOU? Feel free to share your experience and any tips in the comments so we can all benefit!

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