Advertising
Advertising

3 Threats to Effective Time Blocking and How To Solve Them

3 Threats to Effective Time Blocking and How To Solve Them

Time blocking is a great way to get things done effectively. However, if you are not cautious enough, you can easily kill your time block productivity with these three common threats:

  • Procrastination

  • Wasting time without preparation

  • Distraction (internal/external)

First of all, procrastination is perhaps the most common reason for not getting something done within your time block. It’s actually one of the worst ways to spend your time, because you most likely are aware of this activity, and yet you still do it.

For instance, your goal is to write a report for your boss and you have decided to focus on this task between 9am and 10am. Yet, when you discuss things with your colleagues or check on your friends’ Facebook statuses during this time, you just waste your valuable minutes that should be spent on working instead.

Procrastination is wasting time for sure, but you can waste time otherwise as well. For instance, if you decided to write a blog post before going to work, but you just started planning the post in the morning when you should be actually writing it, you are not taking advantage of the time block you have.

Finally, distraction is another big threat to effective time blocking, and this can happen either if you are at home or at the office. It can even happen if you are working by yourself. The distractions come both as external and internal ones, and if you do not realize the possible sources of distractions in advance, it can ruin your time block productivity for sure.

With these three threats, you can destroy your momentum and getting any real work done. However, the next questions are: why do these threats exist and are you actually inviting them into your daily work life (and into your time blocks)?

So why do you allow them?

With these three threats, you can take two stances: you can either allow or disallow them.

Advertising

Unfortunately, if you don’t pay enough attention to this matter, you allow these productivity threats to affect your daily life, and thus make it harder for you to meet your goals that you have set for the day.

So when I talk about “allowing these threats,” I mean the following:

  • You are too busy to get started with your task

You would like to get started with your task right away, but you don’t care to plan your steps in advance. With this planning, you could avoid the common pitfalls during your time block,  like pondering what action to take next or failing to understand the dependencies of your task with other people (sometimes you can’t move forward with your task until someone else has done their part first).

You might also think that if you started right away, you get a head start and you can actually finish your task well before the deadline. Although this may be the case sometimes, too often the results are other than the desired ones.

  • You don’t have an optimum workplace

One sure way to get exposed to distraction is not having a dedicated and quiet workplace to do your work. The more dynamic the environment is (like working in a cubicle or trying to get work done when your family is around you), the less productive you are most likely going to be.

On the other hand, sometimes this situation can be turned around and you can experience something called the cocktail party effect, where you can actually filter out the majority of distractions and focus on just one thing at a time (like in a cocktail event, when you focus on the conversation with a single person, while filtering out the rest of the party-goers).

Unless you are consciously choosing a crowded place (like a coffee shop or a train) to do your work, distraction can turn against you and kill your productivity.

  • You are doing it when your energy is at its lowest

Doing work when your energy is at its lowest is a fertile ground for procrastination.

I realized this when I was doing a seemingly simple task and then I all of a sudden started procrastinating on it.

Although the task took only couple of minutes to finish, I still had internal resistance to complete it. This was due to the fact that I was doing the work late in the evening, when my mind was already off work-mode, and it was looking forward to doing something more fun (like watching television).

According to The Willpower Instinct, your self-discipline drains throughout the day and the willpower reserve is at its highest in the morning. This is exactly what I experienced with my task.

The true cause for these threats

So why is it so easy to get started with your time block right away without doing any preparation?

One reason can be that you think you lose your valuable time with preparation and that taking action right away is what you should be doing instead.

Unfortunately, even if you get started quickly, you might run into roadblocks on your way and you tend to waste your time, thus making sure that you actually finish your task slower, rather than faster.

Another reason is that you probably don’t value the actual preparation part that much and don’t want to spend enough time on such unproductive activity (it’s not helping me to finish my task any faster, thus it’s unproductive, right?).

Finally, spending time on planning and preparing is taking your time away from the actual task execution itself (at least this is how you think). This can be the case when you start working on your task too late in relation to the deadline. And every minute you are not actually doing the work inside your dedicated time block, you feel like you are losing time.

Everything can be fixed with a small preparation

Believe it or not, planning and preparing for the time task in advance is actually doing the work already. With proper preparation, you get rid of the unnecessary roadblocks that could occur during your time blocks.

Advertising

Also, make sure to time block your planning phase as well. This is very important, and you ensure that you can truly maximize the available time for the task (by taking everything necessary into account, like those productivity threats).

Bulletproof your time blocks — here is how

1. Set boundaries. If you happen to work at home, make sure that you family is aware of what you are doing. This way, they value the work you do more and are less likely to distract you.

If possible, try to work as much as you can when they are out of the house or are sleeping. This is exactly what I did (and I still do) when I had a day job. I was building my online business on the side, but since it was challenging to get work done when my almost 2-year-old son was awake, I decided to work during his nap times or early in the mornings when he was still sleeping.

2. Have the right space to do your work. If possible, try to “isolate yourself” when doing the work. This means that you figure out in advance the place where you do your work.

In my case, I have two ways to “isolate myself.” The first one is to do work when the rest of the family is sleeping. The other way is a dedicated work room at my parent’s place where I can go to do work.

When I’m physically outside of our home, I get work done really well. However, I let my wife know my location and that way she can reach me if anything urgent happens.

3. Prepare for your tasks in advance — with a time block. To have an effective time block, make sure to block some time for the planning and prep work as well. This ensures that you map out all the possible roadblocks and other threats to your productive work.

Spending time alone and really figuring out the different parts of your task will help you out a lot during the actual working phase.

4. Pick the right time of the day. To avoid procrastination, try to pick out the right timing for your time block. In my case, I try to do my work during the morning (because that’s when I’m most alert), but your situation may be different.

Pay close attention to your mood during the day, figure out in which part of the day you are most alert, and block your time for that moment (so, after eating lunch is not probably the optimum time).

Advertising

5. Clear your mind. If you feel tired and can’t focus on your work, take a quick nap. I have experienced a total change in my well-being and productivity when I take a quick power nap (20 minutes max).

You can also decide to write down the ideas and thoughts that you get during your work. I have a piece of paper and pen with me when I work, so that I can do a “mini brain dump” and get those thoughts out of my mind (which I can then process later).

Finally, you can decide to start a simple meditation practice of 5 minutes every day. You just basically close your eyes and say quietly in your mind “inhale” while breathing in, and then say “exhale” while breathing out. If your mind starts wandering around (which it will), focus back on your breath.

Meditation is a longer-term practice and it requires patience until you can see the benefits — like the improvements in your focus.

6. Automate the mundane and repetitive parts.  Do you know if any of the tasks you do within your time block can be automated? If so, take precautionary action steps to do the automation.

For instance, you can create a template out of the document that you use on a frequent basis. That way you can save some time and are not wasting your precious time block for low-value activities (like creating a document from scratch every time).

Conclusion

Time blocks are a great way to get work done, but you can ruin them by procrastinating, by wasting your time without preparation, or when being exposed to distraction.

The main point is to make sure to map out your environment, your timing, and your tasks well in advance. That way you can be sure that your time block gets you the maximum results.

Over to you: How do you make sure you can eliminate the productivity threats during your time blocks?

Advertising

More by this author

Timo Kiander

Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

What Is FOMO (And How to Get Over It and Move on) The Crucial Letter Your SMART Goal Is Missing How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity Do You Do This Common Mistake When You Start Working on Your Tasks? 9 Valuable Lessons Learned After Writing My First Book

Trending in Productivity

1 How to Become Goal Oriented and Achieve More in Life 2 6 Ways to Make Progress Every Day (And Realize Your Goals) 3 How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck 4 5 Must Read Self Improvement Books That Will Change Your Life 5 The Psychology of Habit Formation (And How to Hack it)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 9, 2020

6 Ways to Make Progress Every Day (And Realize Your Goals)

6 Ways to Make Progress Every Day (And Realize Your Goals)

Are you at a critical stage in your life, and it seems you are not making headway with your life goals? Does it feel like you are complacent, and you are struggling to accomplish what you set out to do? You can make progress by establishing and diligently working towards those goals that align with your life’s mission.

A lot of dreams are not terminated because the dreamers gave up; they died due to a long period of inactivity. This is the more reason you need to develop a progress mindset while you pursue those relevant and meaningful goals.

A progress mindset will enable you to work on any inadequacy that can truncate the realization of your goals. With such a mindset, you are constantly evaluating yourself, improving your skills, and seeking ways to learn and grow through life.

Why Is It Essential to Develop a Progress Mindset?

Your mindset encompasses your beliefs—how you perceive your talents, skills, knowledge, and personality. Your belief system eventually influences your viewpoints about goals and success. A fixed mindset can hinder your progress, while a progressive mindset will enable you to achieve sound health, happiness, good relationships, and peace.

6 Ways to Make Progress and Realize Your Goals

Here are 6 practical ways that you can make progress and realize all your goals.

1. Figure Out Your WHYs

Nothing is static. You are either making progress or retrogressing. You need to establish why you want to move forward.

  • Career: Why do I want to be fulfilled in my career?
  • Marriage: Why do I want a happy home and loving children?
  • Health: Why do I want to be physically and mentally sound?
  • Finance: Why do I want to be out of debt?
  • Academics: Why do I want to ace my grades?
  • Relationship: Why do I want to communicate better?
  • Personal: Why do I want to be a better person?

For every aspect of your life, establish the reasons for changing levels.

Someone once said,

“When your why is strong and convincing, the how will emerge.”

Establishing your reasons will help you to be an active player in decisions that affect your life. You will also be able to establish if your motivation to progress is intrinsic or extrinsic as you make progress.

2. Establish Tangible Goals

Once you have established your reasons, the next step is to establish your life goals. Develop your aims for short-term, mid-term, as well as long-term goals. This process will enable you to track your progress and implement changes that improve your progress.

Keep Your Goals SMART

Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound in order to make progress. For instance, I want to improve my typing speed by 150 wpm within the next three months. I will spend two hours daily practicing on Mavis Beacon. I wrote in detail on how to set SMART goals that you will accomplish.

You can learn how to write SMART goals in the video below:

Write Your Goals on Paper

Sticking your goals on your wall or notepad will offer you a visual cue that can reinforce why, how, and when you want to make progress on your goals.

Update Your Goals as Required

Review your goals at intervals to ensure you can still achieve them.

3. Create Your Game Plan

It is not enough to know what you want from life; you need to design a roadmap to get to your destination.

Here’s what you can do:

Break Your SMART Goals Into Habits

Begin by highlighting the good habits you need to cultivate and the bad habits you need to eliminate. Here’s how to break bad habits that can truncate your progress.

Advertising

Master One Habit at a Time

Once you figure out the good habits to have in your life, then ensure you practice them daily. Scientists revealed that you would need 18 to 254 days to develop new habits and that a new habit will only become permanent after 66 days of practicing it.[1]

Once you have gained mastery over a habit, add more routines that will enable you to make progress in the direction of your goals.

4. Imbibe Positivity

A positive outlook means you are always optimistic about yourself, interactions, and events. It also determines your ability to expect favorable outcomes when working towards your life goals.

Positivity is a mental posture that sees accomplishments and opportunities instead of failures and defeat. It will keep you hopeful when you are facing daunting challenges.

A study on positive thinking revealed that visualizing positive images can reduce worry and anxiety.[2]

How do you maintain a positive outlook on life?

  • Look out for the best in every circumstance to be more progress-minded.
  • Use positive affirmations. For instance, when you wake up, say, “I will work hard to complete all my milestones today.”
  • Associate with positive people that will support your progress. You need positive energy to consistently make progress in the direction of your goals.
  • Change your perspectives about failures and setbacks, and see them as significant components of making progress.

5. Practice Reflection as You Progress

A lot of things will occur once you are determined to advance. You will learn new lessons and implement changes. You will form new habits and eliminate bad ones.

It is reasonable to take time out and evaluate what worked and what did not. Ask yourself how you can improve and surmount new obstacles. You can log your answers in a diary or use a virtual journal to track your thoughts[3].

Advertising

Self-reflection guide. Adapted from Gibb's (1988) reflective cycle.

    Scientists have proved the significance of reflective practice on your productivity. A group of students at the Harvard Business School found out that call center agents who reflected for 15 minutes on what they’ve learned outperformed their colleagues by 23%.[4]

    Self-reflection will enable you to keep your goals in mind constantly, which will ultimately help you make progress.

    How do you make this happen?

    Set up a Weekly Appointment With Yourself

    During this period, define your goals and reflect on them. It will also help you verify if your goals are still achievable.

    Ask Reflective Questions

    Did I achieve all I planned? What salient lesson can I pick this week? What new things did I learn, and what actions do I need to make progress?

    6. Celebrate Your Achievements

    It is highly crucial to acknowledge every milestone you complete as you make progress in life. Celebrating your achievements will build your confidence and provide you with motivation to continue.

    One of the best ways to do this is by pampering yourself with rewards when you achieve a goal. These rewards could be things you enjoy, such as a special meal, a music collection, or a mini-vacation.

    These little rewards will continuously remind you of victory anytime you feel like giving up. Merely looking at your mini-vacation pictures will motivate you to keep working towards your next goals.

    Celebrating your achievements will enable you to build on existing momentum and will allow you to attract more successes.[5]

    Advertising

    Bonus Tips

    Here are other things that you can do to help you make progress toward your goals.

    Invest in Self-Improvement

    Self-development enhances your self-worth and self-confidence. You can improve yourself by listening to podcasts or audiobooks on any subject of interest. You can also attend webinars, seminars, or workshops to enhance your skills and broaden your knowledge.

    Keep Moving

    Every success comes with obstacles. Not giving up on your goals despite setbacks will help you achieve anything you desire. For instance, if you write a book and don’t make a single sale, write another one.

    Don’t allow anything to discourage you from making progress. In case you missed a deadline, train yourself to meet the next one. A positive attitude will enable you to stay on course and infuse you with confidence.

    Final Words

    Goals offer you a sense of purpose and fulfillment when accomplished. When you make progress relentlessly in the direction of your goals, you build up the confidence to overcome obstacles, and every setback becomes a stepping stone to achieve your next target.

    Apply these six practical steps to make progress and achieve every goal you have set.

    More on How to Make Progress Toward Goals

    Featured photo credit: Khiet Tam via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next