Secret Weapon - Time Blocking
Parkinson’s Law, the idea of which is that work will simply expand to fill the time available for its completion. Time blocking helps you to make the most of your work day and your well rounded life by assigning specific tasks to specific (and flexible) blocks of time.
How to Kick off your Time Blocking
Year at a Glance - Pull out your favorite planner or electronic calendar and get the most important items in place first!
True Life Note: I love my gmail calendar because its easy to share and best of all you can COLOR CODE! Color Coding lets you see your work/life balance (or lack there of) at a quick glance. If you love your physical paper daily planner, go for it...grab some pencils, highlighters and markers!
Ready, Set...Let's Go!
1.) Start with events that cannot be moved like birthdays, annual conventions and holidays. Since the dates are steadfast these items go in first. I also include childcare in this block if I am the one responsible for getting them to or from school/child care on specific consistent days.
2.) Next, it's time to schedule your vacation time. How many weeks do you want to take off in 2017? Go ahead and block that time next. STOP - do not skip this step, even if you think it's not going to happen, block the time now!
3.) Now it's time for date night, family/friend time and your YOU time. Workouts, Dinner with Friends or your love, hiking trips, walking the dogs, reading, mediation, celebrations.
True Life Note: All work and no play makes me a no fun, stressed out girl! For years I would dare to put personal time on my calendar only to fill it with a client showing or paperwork, emails, voicemails...you catch my drift. I told myself, I'll work hard now and play harder "soon". Even active child birth labor didn't keep its shining spot on my calendar as I proceeded to negotiate a contract for one of my listings upon administration of an epidural. I didn't take care of myself, my body and if I am being honest I wasn't present for the most important people in my life, my family. I knew about time blocking and frankly my brain just said "yeah sounds great, but that won't work for my life, my clients, my schedule". I had no one to help guide me or hold me accountable, that is why I am now so passionate about mastering it (yes, it's an ongoing process) and helping my clients reap the rewards of time blocking in their life.
4.) Last and certainly Not least, input Your ONE thing with work. If you are in real estate or sales your ONE thing is 100% hands down, argue all you want, cry scream and carry on and it still ain't gonna change ... LEAD GENERATION!
True Life Note: If you ERASE you must REPLACE. I get it, life happens! To believe that nothing will ever change in our calendar is just not realistic and actually sounds quite boring to me. The basic rule of thumb is if you have to remove a time block you must insert it somewhere else. There are going to be weeks were you are heavy on the work side and others were you are heavy on the personal side, that's ok! Just make sure you are always conscious of counter balancing. My second tip is to LEAVE WHITE SPACE. There is such a thing as over time blocking! Time block your breathing room by leaving white space between tasks!
Time Block Reactive Work!
A lot of your work is reactive, emails, phone calls, got a minutes. You may think this method won’t work for you, I challenge you to just TRY it. By assigning blocks of time to reactive work, you will avoid the daily game of task Ping-Pong when you’re at work.
If you are like me, you have about 20 tabs open, Facebook Chiming in, an office window to the world with all sorts of shiny objects and you find yourself stopping and starting the same task multiple times before completion. Blocking out time is all well and good in theory, but if you don’t stick to the principles in practice, you’re bound to fail. If you’re settling in for a couple of hours of deep work with a Facebook tab open, your phone ready and willing to accept calls, and your colleagues feeling like they can interrupt you at any moment, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Make sure people know they shouldn’t disturb you when you are doing your ONE thing. Put a sign on your office door, sign out of social media, close all unneeded tabs, and concentrate on the task at hand for the time period assigned to it. You’ll often be surprised at how much you get done!
Tip: Use a chess clock to calculate how much time you actually work on your task during the time block. You may be very shocked to see that your hour time block for calling your sphere actually only adds up to 10-15 minutes of talk time. What would your business look like if you could double that? It's not about working harder, or sacrificing more time, it's about efficiency!
Perform Reviews & Find an Accountability Partner
At the end of each week or month perform a review of the different goals you’ve been working on to see if your time blocking approach is working for you. This will also help you discover what tasks you need to assign more time blocks to. This is the only real way you’ll know how to effectively assign your time. During a review, ask yourself the following questions for each project:
1. What have I accomplish since the last review? 2. What tasks need completing before the next review? 3. At which stage am I at with each of my goals?
4. How does my life/work counter balance look?