We’ve all probably created a to-do list at some point, and they can be very useful at helping us to remember what we have to do. But to-do lists are not so good at time tracking and helping you actually get stuff done. Considering that research has shown 41% of items on to-do lists never get done, it would maybe be more appropriate to call them things that probably won’t get done lists.
So, why is it that to-do lists so often just don’t get done?
One reason is that to-do lists are not great for efficient time management is that they don’t take into account how long a particular task will take. Such a list will say nothing about whether a particular task will take a few minutes, or a few hours, potentially leaving you without enough time to complete other tasks on your list.
Another reason to-do lists aren’t great for boosting productivity is that you can end up trying to do multiple things at once, harming your productivity overall. As one ancient Roman dude by the name of Publilius Syrus once said: “To do two things at once is to do neither”.
The good news is that time blocking helps to make project management so much more effective.
What is Time Blocking?
Time blocking is a time management system that involves segmenting your working day into ‘blocks’, and assigning a particular task to that block. During each block, you will focus on the task allocated to it, and nothing else. This task management system helps improve productivity for numerous reasons, including:
- Prioritizing: Time blocking helps to make it easier for you to prioritize your most important tasks, helping you to make sure they get done first. It also helps you see where some tasks can be delegated to other people.
- Allows Better Focus: A lot of people seem to think that multi-tasking helps to get more done, but they’re quite mistaken. Indeed, research has shown that multitasking can ⦁ increase the length of time it takes to complete tasks by 40%. By dedicating a block of time to one specific task, you can cut out multi-tasking, making yourself more productive.
- Parkinson’s Law: Parkinson’s law states that the amount of work you have will expand to fill the time available to complete it. It also means that if you know that you have a limited time slot then you’re more likely to get the task done within that time.
- Helps to Draw Boundaries: One of the biggest issues facing time management is that other people always need x, y, or z done. It can be difficult to say no to helping other people with their tasks, meaning that less time is being spent on your own task. Assigning blocks to certain tasks and letting other people know will make it easier for you to draw boundaries and say no.
- Improved Time Management: Time blocking helps you with time management; it helps you be more realistic in terms of how long a particular task will take and how it will fit into your day.
How to Time Block Like a Boss
You should also use time tracking software like the PK4 TimeTracker. A time tracker will help you get a better idea of just how long you are spending on particular tasks – a potentially very powerful tool for project management. It can be surprising to learn from a time tracker just how much time you’re spending on relatively unimportant tasks, helping you to boost productivity by focusing on other more important activities instead.
Using a calendar will help make task management a lot easier for you and make it a lot easier for you to visualize your week ahead. Being able to visualize your day makes it much easier for you to prepare, boosting your productivity. Don’t forget to share your calendar with other people so they know to leave you alone when you’re focusing on something important.
When time blocking, one of the first things you should do is to ask yourself which of your tasks are high-priority, and which are less important. Your time-blocking calendar should then focus on making sure there’s sufficient time for the more important tasks. When setting a block of time for each task, make sure to be realistic in terms of how long they will take to complete.
Also, try to allocate your most important tasks to when your productivity levels are at their highest. If you’re somebody who isn’t quite with it until 10:30 am when you’ve had your caffeine fix, then plan your day so you’re working on the important stuff when you’re firing on all cylinders.
We’re not superhuman; we all need the occasional break to recharge our body and mind. Effective project management requires allocating blocks of time to breaks. It might mean taking an hour or so out of your working day, but feeling energized will help to increase your productivity levels overall.