Have you looked at the calendar and wondered how you can possibly do all you have scheduled? I used to feel that way until I made a simple discovery.
Time blocking is a method of allocating or pre-assigning time for specific activities throughout your day. It helps me keep my day and life more balanced. I accomplish more because I have structure to my day, I can focus on a specific task with a high value, and I am able to manage interruptions. I am the one in charge of my day. Here’s how to do this.
Review your daily and weekly activities
Can you determine how much time you spend on specific tasks?
It might be helpful to track your time for a few days so you can see how much time you do spend on those activities. For example, do you check your e-mail every couple of hours and find that you spend at least 15 minutes each time answering them? And, how about those social media checks?
Do you have like tasks that are spread through out the week?
You might find that you teach every day. Or you take in quilts to longarm everyday. Perhaps you frame all the your art as soon as it’s finished. Can these tasks be handled on one or two days, so your energy focuses on one activity?
Do you have tasks that need attention that do not seem to get any?
For example, dedicated marketing time is key for any business. Artists want to spend their time creating and often have trouble reconciling the need to spend so much time marketing. This task is often relegated to the leftover time when it needs to move to the front burner.
Do you have uninterrupted time for creative work?
Even though we run creative-based businesses, the time should still be dedicated to the task.
Consider your short- and long-term goals
Do you have a big project that needs to be completed?
Start with a list of the tasks involved to complete it and estimate how much time is involved for each. It is so easy to under-estimate what is involved.
Consider your own personal work habits
When are you most effective?
We all have our own internal clocks at work. I am a morning person, and I know I am more productive in the morning. For me this translates into activities that require brain-power earlier in the day.
Get out your calendar
This is really our last step, so don’t jump ahead without considering your goals, activities, and habits.
Armed with answers to those questions, get out your calendar and begin to block-off time for your activities. What most of us do is set appointments with others and that is what is on our calendar. We then fill our time with items on our goals or to-do list.
This system lets you set an appointment with yourself for your work. Once you have shifted to an “appointment” mindset, it is often easier to accomplish tasks on your list.
With your goals in mind, put the important tasks first so you will accomplish them. For example, if I do not block time for the key tasks, I can easily spend lots of time on simple tasks, like folding fabric and putting it away or reading the latest art magazine or scrolling through Instagram.
Remember: these items do not move your business forward in a significant way.
Here are some things you might like to time-block:
- quilt intake time on one or two afternoons or evenings a week, rather than at odd times.
- time dedicated to longarm work or product production
- creative time to design new work
- time to frame art
- photo editing
- marketing time
- bookkeeping, if you do not have outside help
- order fulfillment, if you do not have outside help
- learning time
- time to work on blog posts and your communications with clients
- writing time if you are working on a book
- time to complete samples
- time to read and respond to emails (I know you will have times when you need to check for something particular. When that happens, just handle that one item and save the rest for the blocked time.)
- time to develop new classes
- breaks in your day (This can be crucial if you are standing or sitting at a machine most of your day.)
How time blocking works for me
To give you an idea of how I time block my week, I have the majority of our Members’ Studio calls on Tuesdays and private coaching calls on Wednesday and/or Thursday mornings.
I allot one block of several hours during the week on one day to work on my blog and ezine articles.
Because I am working on a new project this year, I block time during each day to work on that. It is a goal with many smaller tasks that need to be completed.
I also block out time twice a day for e-mail, so I am not checking constantly.
I have an hour each day blocked out for reading or learning something new I can apply to the business.
I block out most Wednesday afternoons for errands. Because I know that is the day for errands, I try to schedule doctor appointments during that time. I have already scheduled my hair appointments through the end of the year months for 5:30 on a Wednesday. I also block out time for family and self-care, and my own art, so they do not get lost.
I am not rigid with the time blocking, and, of course, I have other appointments to put in. This week I have a networking meeting and am preparing for a two day meeting with a small mastermind I am in.
In the end the reason I think this works is because when you pre-assign the time for a specific activity, you are more focused on getting it done. In a sense, you created a deadline for yourself. And by batching like tasks together in the same block (like the quilt intake sessions), you work more efficiently.
It’s your turn?
Are you a time blocker? How does it make a difference?