GUEST POST by Jasmine Cianflone
Block scheduling and task batching. What does it all mean, and how does it help you get more done in less time? This simple strategy has helped me manage two businesses, a part-time job, my three kids, and my household effectively for the past several years.
In the most basic of terms, block scheduling is a method of dividing your day into chunks of time that you focus on individual categories of tasks. You then work through these blocks in that order, knocking things off your to-do list at lightning speed.
This is in stark contrast to how creative entrepreneurs usually structure their days (and honestly I’m using the word structure very loosely). Since we don’t have “the man” breathing down our necks, we’re free to work on whatever project we want, whenever we want!
What we usually do is bounce from thing to thing, from email to social media, to client call to cramming lunch down our throats at our desks to workshops to… exhaustion! Multitasking like this makes it seem like you’re getting a bunch of stuff done simultaneously, but studies have shown that’s truly not the case.
When you multitask, your brain gets exhausted from switching between tasks, and you actually get less done. On top of that, it takes you longer to get back on track, so your work piles up. When you feel like your work is piling up, you get stressed out, and no one wants to be stressed out. Let’s learn how we can stop torturing ourselves, shall we?
Why you should use block scheduling
- It avoids multitasking (see above), which we’re all guilty of and it truly drains our productivity and leaves us exhausted and prone to burnout.
- It’s flexible. You can use time blocking with any productivity system, like Getting Things Done, the Twelve Week Year, or Pomodoro. Most day planners and digital calendars are set up so you can create and color code your blocks as well.
- It saves your brain from distraction. Studies have shown it takes the average person over 23 minutes to get back on task after an interruption. That’s a lot of wasted time over a single day, let alone a month or year.
- Time blocking lets you set priorities. You run your days instead of your days running you.
A peek into my block scheduling
Everyone is busy these days, but sometimes my life feels downright chaotic. I’m a wedding planner, which requires lots of work with hard-stop deadlines. I’m also a life integration and biz bliss coach, so I use a lot of energy talking my clients through challenges and helping them find solutions. On top of that, I’m a wife and mom to three young kids. Focused time is in short supply, so when I’m intentional about how I create my days everything runs more smoothly.
I’ve divided my general tasks into big categories: Writing, Marketing, Social Media, Client Work, Admin Tasks, and Client Meetings. I also block off time for Personal and Professional Development. My week looks like this:
Mondays: Admin work, Writing Day, Professional and Personal Development
Tuesdays: Client Work Day, Marketing Tasks, Client Meetings
Wednesdays: Client Work Day, Marketing Tasks
Thursdays: Marketing Tasks, Client Meetings
Fridays: Planning Day, Writing Day, Client Work (catch up), Social Media Scheduling
Saturday: Client Meetings, Marketing tasks (catch up), Events (when scheduled)
I give myself 30 minutes per day for going through email, except on Mondays, when I do my big sort, file, and delete. Each other block is made up of an hour or two of focused time, depending on the tasks to be accomplished. I challenge myself to get through as much work as possible in the amount of time allotted. You’d be surprised how easily those blog posts and emails come together when you know you have to have them done in two hours.
I batch all similar tasks together. If I’m sending out a bunch of vendor emails, I prep everything I need, and do them all at once.
Essentials for Block Scheduling and Task Batching
- Get a good understanding of what you actually need to get done in a day and how long it will actually take. Most of us (myself included) tend to either over or underestimate how long a task will actually take. This may mean you have to audit your workload and workflow before you can implement.
- Decide what tasks you’ll focus on when, and then stick to your schedule! You can use my example above as a guide.
- Build in breaks—and I mean REAL breaks, not 10 minutes to catch up on your Facebook or Instagram feed. Get up and away from your desk. Get some fresh air if you can. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to take on the next block.
- On top of your breaks, build in time away from your business entirely. You know, the vacations we entrepreneurs never seem to take?
- Include time to plan for the following day, week, and month. Doing this intentionally means you stay ahead of the game.
- Don’t be afraid to change things up if they aren’t working. This is your business after all, and you have to do what works for you.
- Make sure that after you’ve set up your schedule, you actually use it. Try it for a few weeks before you decide that it doesn’t work for you. Any system will fail you if you don’t actually utilize it.
- Shut off all distractions during your time block. Yes, this includes email and all those notifications on your phone. Put your phone somewhere else if you need to, but ignoring it as much as possible is crucial for success.
With time blocking and task batching, I’ve been able to create an intentional and flexible schedule that works for me, my businesses, and my family. Try it out! You may be surprised at the results.
Jasmine Cianflone is no stranger to productivity hacks. As a wedding logistics and event styling maven, life integration and business bliss coach, she is always looking for ways to save time and get more done both for her clients and herself. Jasmine specializes in outside-of-the-box weddings and events, and her planning philosophy is that weddings are not a competition. In her coaching business, she helps wedding planner moms quit chasing balance, stop glorifying busy, and create the integrated lives they’ve always dreamed of. When she’s not working, you can find Jasmine with her three kids and her web-developer hubby, Joe. Learn more at jasminecianflone.com.