Do you ever feel you have been busy all day but have no idea what you did?
Do you ever feel like you run out of time to make the big changes to your business or learn how to boost your business?
Time blocking or writing everything into my schedule is the magic sauce for me to get more done. I know a lot of people are opposed to scheduling out their day, saying it will tie them down and won’t allow them to be flexible and respond to emerging needs, but here are some reasons time blocking brings more freedom and flexibility that will improve the health of your business.
Time Blocking Empowers Priorities: Time blocking liberates you to prioritize what truly matters, be it business growth, self-care, or quality time with loved ones.
Efficiency and Stress Reduction: Through advanced planning, time blocking reduces decision fatigue, enhances efficiency, and alleviates stress, offering a structured path to accomplishment.
Continuous Learning for Business Success: Time blocking allows dedicated time for learning and innovation, ensuring your small business remains competitive and adaptable.
Time blocking gives you more freedom than going with the flow.
Freedom to do what you really want to do and work on business improvement. Time-blocking ensures you will make time for the tasks that are important to you. Time-blocking allows you to make time for self-care, time with your family, learning how to run your business better, etc. By spending time on self-care, you are more able to sustain your business and respond to the challenges that will arise. Scheduling time with your friends and family is probably one of the reasons you started your business in the first place. If you just go with the flow, you can work nonstop on your business and never see your loved ones. Time-blocking allows you to make time to learn new ideas (see #7) as well as time to make the necessary changes rather than plodding along business as usual.
Freedom from decision paralysis. Time-blocking takes away lost productivity as you decide what to do each moment. Our brains are making millions of decisions, and simply having your schedule planned out reduces some of the load on your brain so you can focus on the tasks that will make a difference to your goals instead of wasting brain energy on figuring out which tasks you will do, how you will manage to juggle the other tasks, etc.
Freedom from wasted time. Time-blocking forces you to be realistic about your time and what you can do with the time. Time is our most limited and non-renewable resource. Once we have lost time, there is no getting it back. Studies show that we tend to underestimate how long tasks will take. I know I have certainly seen this in my own habits. By time blocking, you are being intentional about the minutes you have instead of frittering them away on TikTok and Fail Army videos. Time-blocking also forces you to be more realistic about the amount of time a task will take.
Freedom to focus. Time-blocking helps you to focus on getting the task done. Because you have boxed your time, you know you have a limited time, and you will use your time more effectively. Instead of working on the thing until it gets done, you will get it done because you know how long it will take. Scientific principal Parkinson’s Law.
Freedom from a sense that you aren’t making progress. Time-blocking gives a sense of accomplishment as it empowers you to get stuff done, and you get the dopamine rush as you feel that sense of accomplishment. The power lies in visualizing it on paper (or on the computer). As you go through a day where you have practiced time-blocking, you feel a rush from knowing you are actually working on something you want to do or need to get done. That positive feeling of making progress provides you momentum to do even more.
Freedom from stress and overwhelm. Time-blocking helps me overcome overwhelm. I have a million ideas and to-dos floating around in my brain, and sitting each morning for 5 minutes to figure out how I will do what is important that day brings me calm as I bring order to the chaos in my brain. Writing down each task frees my mind and gives me a path of action.
Freedom to learn. By time-blocking, you can put aside time to learn better practices, new ideas, and inspiration, which keep your business operating better and help you be more innovative and competitive. You are more likely to do it when you schedule time to learn. I schedule time daily for podcasts, courses, and reading (you can see some in my sample schedule), because learning these practices makes me a better business and a better human.
Time-blocking is really no different than creating a financial budget. Time and money are both limited resources, and we have to decide how to spend them. The main difference is that you can always earn more money but never earn back time. It’s better to be proactive with how you plan to spend your time, and you will be more likely to budget time for the things you really want to do.
How do I time block my schedule for freedom and flexibility?
Start by getting everything you can’t miss into one calendar. Random slips of paper, your memory or one calendar for work, another for personal and another for the family will not cut it. A paper planner or an electronic calendar will do the trick, and each has pros and cons.
Paper Planners: Paper calendars are quick and easy, and I relied mainly on those in my teaching days since I couldn’t open up the computer every time I remembered something I needed to do. Still, I could jot it down in my open planner on my desk, and by having each week open in a full spread, I could get a quick overview of my week. However, my teaching was contained in the time I spent at school. It can also get messy and hard to understand when you have a lot of changes, and you may forget to put something in there if you don’t have it with you.
Electronic Calendars: I put anything that happened outside of school or with my family into Google. Today, I live by Google, and my Google calendar sits on my phone’s bottom quick-access row. I have a separate calendar for every person in my family, and I put EVERYTHING we need to do there. You can create multiple calendars and look at them in one app and on one page. You usually have your phone with you, so it makes it easier to capture events on the fly. It’s also easier to change event info, create repeating events and share event information with others. I also love putting in the addresses so it can give me directions to places in my calendar. It can be more time-consuming to open a calendar app and enter your event information, but the time you save by having all the information in one place is worth it.
Every morning, the first thing I do when I sit at my desk is review my schedule and make sure my whole day is accounted for.
You don’t need to have every minute of every day scheduled. I rarely time-block my weekends, and I never time-block Sundays. Those are my rest days that I intentionally leave free to nap, go to church, walk on the beach, read, watch a documentary, etc.
If the idea of time blocking rubs you the wrong way, I suggest you start with 1 day a week. Pick a day you know you want to be productive and focused and leave the rest of the week the way it is. Afterward, consider how it felt, and maybe try gradually time-blocking more.
Download my guide for my step-by-step approach to time blocking my days and a peek at a typical day in my calendar.