Are you someone who needs to block time, but you don’t because you hate it? A leadership coach suggested this article, because her clients were struggling to time block. They, two thumbs down, hated it.
Ultimately, you probably don’t hate time blocking. You more than likely hate sitting still to do boring tasks, or you loathe the ‘overwhelm’ sensations that come from having so many tasks or figuring out which one to start with.
Try a two-step approach, the first step is to reduce tasks. The second, is get time blocking to work for you.
Step One: Reduce Tasks so You Don’t Need So Much Time to Time Block.
Consider reducing your task mountain to a small hill with the following Task Type tips:
- Are you a whimsical tasker? Tip: Set realistic timeframes and add a couple days. Ask yourself, “when”, before you say, “Yes, I’ll do it!” Think to yourself, “when will I do this given the undone things I have on my plate?” When we say yes to one thing, we’re saying no to all the other things we’d like to do and tying up time in the future. Only allow for tasks with proper, realistic due date timeframes.
- Are you a compulsive task maker? Tip: Stop volunteering yourself. I bet you’re quick, witty, competent and within seconds you’re the one who volunteers yourself for a variety of never-ending tasks which make you dread doing them in a time block. Before you volunteer yourself to do something, bite your tongue before it spews out of your mouth, in the quiet (because you’re not talking), someone else may open their mouth. Or better yet, just let the action roll in the sea of lost suggestions.
- Are you a task hoarder? Tip: Delegate already. Delegate and transfer your knowledge so someone else can do the tasks that you don’t enjoy, don’t hoard all those tasks for yourself, it’s selfish. Spread the love. If you have direct reports, there’s no excuse. If you don’t, pay someone if you must: cleaning people, virtual admins, or college age tech savvy nephews – someone out there is willing to receive pay and trainable. Need more help: read Fear of the Low Delegators.
- Are you a task avoider? (Dumb question, huh?) Tip: Break it down. You’ve heard it before, break down your tasks into easy, doable ones. Time block haters put a whole project like ‘write two books’ on their to do list and wonder why they don’t want to get started. (Confession: that was me!). Here’s the thing, “You can’t do a project. You can coordinate, plan, strategize, and delegate project tasks, but you can’t do one. You do Strategic Next Actions (SNAs),” says Sally McGhee of McGhee Productivity Solutions. Go ahead, what the next easiest thing to get started?
Step Two: Get Your Time Blocking to Work for You.
Think about how you can get time blocking to work for you with these tips:
- Instead of a time block, make it a time bite. The Pomodoro technique can get you going with short twenty-five-minute increments using a kitchen timer, for added fun get the Pomodoro tomato-shaped one. It’s cute, but our cell phone does the job. Set it for five, ten, or twenty-five minutes and get started working on your task, when it dings, go hive-five the mirror and repeat. You never know, that time-bite can be so fun that you’ve time-blocked two hours before you know it.
- Work somewhere serene. No, I’m not saying quit, I’m saying find a serene location for your time block. And by serene, I mean – difficult to interrupt you. Recently a friend and I went on a writing retreat to the Colorado countryside. Cell phone reception was sporadic, houses were acres apart, and all we could hear outside was the whistle of leaves in the wind. We got a lot of writing done. Time blocking loves beautiful surroundings. Where can you go?
- Reserve a full day. Do you feel better when you have a whole day to concentrate without interruptions? I’m like this. See, once the brain gets into relational mode with conversations on email or meetings, it’s difficult for the brain to shift gears into a strong analytical mode to complete tough tasks. So, if you’ve had success in the past with taking a full day for your tasks, there’s reasons for it, take one day a week to time block the whole day. Then, protect that thing like a Grizzly. Need help, check out You’re Not ADD, You’re Distracted.
- Reward yourself afterwards. Plan something fun after tasks are completed during the time block. The old, “eat that frog technique” from Brian Tracey works. Do what you don’t want to do first, then reward yourself with stuff you want to do next. It’s a discipline yes, but a worthy pursuit.
- Shift your attitude. Instead of hating time blocking, love completion! The feeling of completion is more serving to your wellbeing than incompletion, procrastination or hatred. Next time you complete something that required intense focus, let that wonderful emotion of pride in your heart swell with a job well done.
Consider how you can reduce your tasks and adopt the lifelong, loving practice of time blocking from the tips above. Your turn, in the comments answer – Do you time block? Do you hate time-blocking? What type of tasker are you? What will you try?