How to Use Block Scheduling to Revamp Your Workflow

Getting people to respect your blocks is easy. If you need help finding time for clients, phone calls, or meetings that work with block scheduling, try Harmonizely or Calendly. I only schedule calls or meetings for Monday-Thursday afternoons, leaving Fridays as my tech-free day for reading and household errands.

Pasricha also suggests creating hands-off days, what he calls “untouchable days.” If that seems impossible, start with “untouchable hours,” then lengthen the time dedicated to yourself.

“The ‘results’ in terms of increased creativity and better focus on doing the right things (instead of just doing things right) should be very evident,” Pasricha says. “The time shift away from incessant algorithm-fed provocativeness toward works of substance and depth will slowly turn you into a better leader, spouse, parent.”

Working in Batches

Task batching is less specific and offers a time frame in which to handle specific tasks, like setting aside an hour to answer emails, as Pasricha suggests, or 30 minutes to pay your bills.

Task batching is helpful when it comes to tackling regular and inevitable time vacuums: any administrative tasks that require sending an email or making a phone call to a customer service line, booking a hotel, or paying bills.

But here’s where the flexibility of block scheduling and task batching comes in: If you’re planning an entire trip, for example, rather than batching the hotel booking in with other administrative work on a single day or afternoon, set aside an hour or two to research the best vacation spot and make reservations in a two-hour batch.

Blocking or Boxing

Time blocking and time boxing require planning a specific goal, task, or deliverable around a single slot, like choosing to write for four hours each morning or setting aside two hours to finish a draft of a presentation.

If you’re setting a time block for “reading,” it helps to note any book, articles, or periodicals you plan to read in the description or notes section of your calendar. For greater focus, break those notes into smaller time boxes.

Say you have a 90-minute block each day for “second language study” but find it daunting to get started.

You could time box, breaking the larger block into smaller boxes: 40 minutes of audio listening and reading, 20 minutes of reading, 30 minutes of workbook assignments.

Plan Ahead, but Be Flexible

Whether you want to plan your weeks in advance or day-to-day, setting aside time to look ahead will give you more flexibility and agency over your deadlines and long-term projects. I take an hour at the end of each week to plan the week ahead. If travel’s involved, I plan a bit further. I also make sure to leave large blocks for reading and overflow from tasks that were interrupted by daycare issues or unexpected edits/fact-checks.

But I don’t always have overflow, thanks in part to block scheduling.

As Parkinson’s Law goes, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” This is good to remember when working with time blocks. Intentionally schedule your work, but don’t be too rigid. If you finish a task before its block ends, shorten the block, relocate another block, or open up more personal time later. There’s no sense in carrying on with busywork.

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