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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 bulk scheduling, try Harmonizely or Calendly. I only schedule calls or meetings Monday through Thursday afternoons, leaving Friday as a tech-free day for reading and errands.

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

“The ‘results’ in terms of increased creativity and better focus on the right things (instead of just doing it right) should be very obvious,” says Pasricha. “Moving from relentless, algorithm-fueled provocation to substantive, deep works will slowly transform you into a better leader, spouse, parent.”

Work in batches

Batching tasks is less specific and provides a deadline to manage specific tasks, such as setting aside an hour to respond to emails, as Pasricha suggests, or 30 minutes to pay your bills.

Batching tasks is useful when dealing with the regular and unavoidable gaps in time: all administrative tasks that require sending an email or a phone call to a customer service line, booking a hotel or paying bills.

But that’s where the flexibility of block planning and grouping tasks comes in: if you’re planning an entire trip, for example, rather than bundling hotel booking with other administrative tasks into a single day or afternoon, allow an hour or two to research the best vacation spot and make reservations within two hours.

Blocking or boxing

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

If you set a block of time for “reading,” it’s helpful to write down any books, articles, or periodicals you plan to read in the description or notes section of your calendar. For greater concentration, divide these notes into smaller periods.

Let’s say you have a block of 90 minutes each day for “studying a second language”, but you find it daunting to start.

You can time it, dividing the largest block into smaller boxes: 40 minutes of audio listening and playing, 20 minutes of reading, 30 minutes of exercises.

Plan ahead, but be flexible

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

But I don’t always have overflow, partly thanks to bulk scheduling.

As Parkinson’s Law says, “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” This is good to remember when working with time blocks. Plan your work intentionally, but don’t be too rigid. If you complete a task before the end of its block, shorten the block, move another block, or open more personal time later. There is no sense in continuing with a busy job.

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