Do you struggle with time management? I know I did. At the beginning of the year I became aware that the lack of time management was creating unnecessary stress in my life. I thought if I limit myself to a schedule then I wouldn’t be able to stay in the flow and I’d feel less free and my creativity will be affected.
I knew that my time management needed an upgrade but I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t want to limit myself but the lack of organisation was holding me back of doing all the things I wanted to do as well as I had the fear of burning out.
While planning in advance and scheduling time doesn’t come naturally to me and it is an effort, it is a habit and as everything in life it probably will take a bit of conscious effort and willpower to do but then it will become easier.
I actually didn’t lose any creativity or flow, it multiplied, I feel less stressed and now I am accomplishing more by giving myself some structure.
Start by blocking and scheduling time for tasks
Time management is an essential skill, and hour blocking is an easy and powerful way to master this skill. You can use it to block off hours in your schedule and get more things finished. It enables you to take control of the minutes in each day.
Start with planning.
I used to sweat bricks at the idea of planning my week. I just want to be free!! But truth was I was a slave of anxiety. Not planning leave with running late to meetings, pick-up time, not completing tasks and therefore not accomplishing my goals.
I decided to make a list of all the important tasks for the week. Then, narrow this list down to three to five essential tasks. Be realistic and avoid cramming a million tasks in one day or week.
Block your hours.
After you have a short list of tasks, block the hours on your schedule. This is called time blocking and essentially requires you to take each hour and assign a task or item to it.
Group related tasks together and add them to specific blocks of time.
Like grocery shopping after going to the post office to check your PO Box for letters, I do this once a week.
Remember to schedule lunches and breaks. Taking time to rest your mind and body is important! Your breaks allow you to get back to your tasks with renewed energy.
Hour blocking demands that you eliminate distractions, so you don’t lose focus. I leave my phone in another room when I need to complete tasks.
Figure out what your main distractions are. For me is social media is the main one, I honestly feel less alone when I’m connected to it but it can be very distracting. Did someone say WhatsApp? That too!
Eliminate or reduce these distractions. You may want to set aside a specific chunk of time each day to handle your social media, email inbox, and other tasks that distract you from your more essential actions.
Also, when you’re working, let others know that you’re busy, so they can limit their interruptions. This is especially difficult when you work from home, people tend to think you have all the time available because you are at home.
Keep the time blocks flexible.
Unless you know the exact amount of time each task will take, it’s important to keep the time blocks flexible. This will also enable you to take care of other important things that come up with a minimum amount of stress or changes to your schedule.
Review your time blocks regularly.
Make adjustments as needed. If your tasks change, or you find that they take more or less time than you thought, modify your time blocks to take the new information into account.
Reviewing your time blocks will also give you the chance to see when you’re most productive. If you do your best work in the morning, schedule more important tasks during these hours. Reviews will help you evaluate your productivity levels and decide which parts need attention.
Another advantage of doing reviews is that it gives you the chance to see if your reminders are working or if they need to be changed. Use alerts on your phone or computer, sticky notes, or traditional alarms to remind you that it’s time to move to the next task. The key is to find something that works for you.
Effective time management can help you finish more tasks each day and feel more accomplished. Hour blocking is a useful method for anyone who is interested in greater productivity, either at home or at work.