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Last Updated on April 22, 2020

How to Boost Your Productivity with Block Scheduling

How to Boost Your Productivity with Block Scheduling

On August 6, 1991, the world changed forever. That’s when the internet became publicly available. Less than 30 years later, our lives have been irrevocably transformed. We can now learn, explore, and communicate 24/7, which is both amazing and, as we all know, hazardous to our productivity.[1]

To be clear, the internet isn’t life’s only distraction. And while productivity has become a huge buzzword in recent years, it’s simply a measure of progress: are you doing what matters most? Actively moving toward your goals?

Author Neil Pasricha writes in Harvard Business Review,[2]

“As our world gets busier and our phones get beepier, the scarcest resource for all of us is becoming attention and creative output. And if you’re not taking time to put something new and beautiful out in the world, then your value is diminishing fast.”

Most entrepreneurs relate deeply to this sentiment. Pasricha solved his own productivity challenges by instituting “untouchable days” that shield him from texts, phone calls, meetings, alerts, or appointments of any kind. He says these focused sessions have enabled him to produce his most creative and rewarding work.

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I love Pasricha’s approach, but it’s not always realistic for me. As the founder and CEO of JotForm, I need to weigh in on a variety of daily decisions, from hiring to product roadmaps to financial planning. I suspect other founders feel the same way. Yet, I do believe in the power of focused work, which is also why I recommend block scheduling.

Our Collective Fight for Focus

Entrepreneurs often flaunt their multitasking as a badge of honor. After all, starting a business is a tug-of-war between competing priorities. But while multitasking might feel efficient, research shows that shifting between tasks can slash productivity by up to 40%. Task-switching leaves what Dr. Sophie Leroy calls “attention residue,” which means we’re still thinking about a previous activity while we start the next one.[3]

Here’s where block scheduling can shine. Also called block scheduling or time blocking, it’s the practice of allocating large chunks of time to related tasks. For example, you might designate Mondays for meetings and Tuesdays for strategy. There are many different approaches, which we’ll get to shortly.

First, here’s why it matters. Business is essentially problem-solving. Creating strategies, writing code, developing products, and all the myriad activities that entrepreneurs tackle demand focus and minimal distractions. They’re also inherently human tasks that won’t easily be replaced by AI, which means your business depends on your ability to go deep.

Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World, explained in a 2017 interview that:

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“Focus is now the lifeblood of this economy.”

Entrepreneurs use their minds to launch ideas and create value, so the ability to concentrate is “almost like a superpower.”[4]

Block scheduling can also help you to produce higher quality work in less time. Parkinson’s Law holds that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,”[5] which is why setting time limits can deflate a ballooning task. Other benefits of time blocking? It can help you to battle procrastination, create more realistic time estimates, and devote your full attention to each task and work more thoroughly.[6]

Create Your Ideal Schedule

We all have different rhythms and responsibilities. Personalization is the key to successful time blocking – and it will require some trial and error. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Assess Your Calendar

Evaluating your current schedule can be surprisingly difficult, because few of us can accurately estimate how much time a task requires. If it feels easier, track how you actually spend your time for a full week. Note each activity – even 10 minutes of email and 15 minutes of social media scrolling between meetings.

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Step 2: Look for Patterns

After you’ve documented a full week, group tasks into categories, like administrative, meetings, creative work, email, or personal time. You can also label tasks based on how you feel while doing them, or how they influence your energy levels on a scale from 1-10. Do whatever makes sense for you.

Step 3: Arrange Your Time Blocks

Experiment with different scheduling patterns. For example, you could set aside Tuesdays for coding or keep mornings free for business development. You might want to divide the day into two blocks or split your week into three different blocks. It all depends on the nature of your work and what you need to accomplish.

Ultimately, the goal is to avoid switching mental gears throughout the day, week, and maybe even the month. I realize this isn’t easy – especially for entrepreneurs – but it can be incredibly valuable.

Spending a full day on projects you dislike, such as administrative work or meetings, might feel daunting, but blocking them into a single day can make the rest of your week infinitely more productive, and more enjoyable. You’re free to tackle all the entrepreneurial challenges that get your blood flowing.

Take Charge of Your Time

Most founders crave freedom. Yet, school, jobs, and social norms condition us to work with a traditional, reactive mindset. Before we know it, we’ve re-created a working schedule that traces back to the 19th century – even in our own companies. Block scheduling is not only a tool to maximize productivity; it’s a way to reclaim your time.[7]

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In my 14 years at JotForm, I’ve realized that business growth means doing more of what makes the biggest impact. I don’t always succeed, but I try to focus my time and energy where it matters – and I know that busyness is not synonymous with productivity.

If you feel the same way, give time blocking a try. Share your experiments in scheduling with colleagues and family members so they understand the changes and can support you.

Finally, don’t worry about getting it right immediately. You may need to get under the hood of your calendar and tinker around a bit. Find what works for you, then protect your new schedule at all costs.

More Time Management Tips

Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Aytekin Tank

Founder and CEO of JotForm, sharing entrepreneurship and productivity tips at Lifehack.

9 Positive Affirmations to Boost Your Work Morale How to Negotiate With People Who Won’t Negotiate Effectively How to Boost Your Productivity with Block Scheduling 6 Effective Leadership Skills in the Workplace 8 Differences Between a Leader and a Manager

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

6 Things To Do Every Day To Ensure You Stick To Your Goals

6 Things To Do Every Day To Ensure You Stick To Your Goals

Sticking to your goals can sometimes be challenging. We all want better health, better careers, and better jobs, and we want to cast an impression on everyone that we are living fulfilled lives.

Yet to reach our goals and make every minute of our time count requires commitment, consistency, and hard work. Setting goals is one thing, but sticking to them is another. We have to observe certain daily practices if we want to get the best out of ourselves.

Here are 6 things that you have to ensure daily to reach your goals.

1. Involve Others

You have to be accountable for the actions you are committing yourself to. Involve everyone around you, get them engaged, and talk to them on how they can help you accomplish your goals.

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When you involve others you feel, you have a responsibility towards them as well as yourself. Every day, make sure you are accountable for sticking to your goals. By joining groups or engaging others, you have more motivation to reach your goals.

For example, if you want to read more, try joining a book club. If you want to be a better entrepreneur, join an entrepreneurial organization.

2. Visualize the Rewards

Reaching a goal can be challenging and sometimes, it can be overwhelming. When the journey becomes tough and difficult, try to stick to visualizing your successes every day.

Wake up to visualize what rewards you will get from sticking to meeting your goals. If you want to lose some pounds, visualize yourself already underweight and benefiting from being underweight. The mind has a way of channeling your body and intentions to sticking to your goals and reaching them.

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3. Break Down Your Goals

Try to break down your goals into tiny chunks. The smaller the size of the goals, the more willing and prepared you are to meet them.

For example, if you find it difficult to get out of the house and take a workout at the gym, why not try to break the goal into making sure you are always dressed for the gym daily? By doing this, you demonstrate that you are moving in the right direction, and you can keep this momentum so you can meet the larger goal.

4. Reward Yourself

For every progress you make daily towards reaching your goals, try to vindicate and reward yourself. By doing this you appreciate yourself and the hard work you have put in for the day.

When you reward yourself, you program yourself to benefit from a larger reward in the future. You also propel yourself to gain daily rewards, which can be enticing and motivating. Rewarding yourself serves as a form of positive reinforcement that reinforces your mind and behavior to stick to your goals and stay motivated.

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5. Measure Your Progress

It is easy to become frustrated when you are not getting instant results. Change can be slow and rewards are not always immediate. Still, progress can be measured even in tiny bits, so take time to look back at where you are coming from.

You don’t have to feel depressed about not making that major progress in an instant. But when you journal or snap pictures to document your progress, no matter how small, you will feel grateful and elated to see what difference you have made from where you are coming from up until now.

6. Believe in the Possibilities

If you don’t even believe in the possibility of reaching your goals, how can you expect yourself to stick to your goals in the first place?

By believing in the possibilities of accomplishing a goal or task, you increase your chance of reaching it and eradicating whatever roadblocks or challenges you may face. Believe in what you can achieve.

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What self-belief has over self-control is that while self-control can be depleted but self-belief cannot. We all have an enormous reservoir of how much we can believe in ourselves.

With believing in ourselves comes perseverance, determination, and desire to reaching our goals. Every day, understand that what you need to keep going is your belief toward achieving your goals. Your goals are reachable if you think you can reach them!

Final Words

Due to circumstances in life, people tend to abandon some of their goals in life. You may also feel this way sometimes. In that case, just come back to this article and remember the 6 ways you can help yourself stick to your goals.

People don’t always reach their goals, but you will never know if you can reach them if you don’t stick to them in the first place. As long as you stick to your goals, there will always be the possibility of you achieving them!

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Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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