1 | 9 | Schedule routine tasks (aka "time blocking")


Hey there! I'm Marian Knopp, the Online Business Systemizer at marianknopp.com.

The Productivity Tip of the Day™ is: Schedule routine tasks (aka "time blocking")

I've obviously been aware that there are lots of arguments about different productivity tips. For example, there are people who absolutely love morning routines and evening routines and then there's the anti-morning routine crew. When it comes to time blocking, I also see those extremes. There are people who rely on time blocking for everything. They believe it is everything to them, that's how they get anything done. Then there are people who are very against putting anything in their calendar that's not specific to that time or day.

I'm going to try to be fair in my explanation. Full disclosure, I am a time blocker, but I do believe that each person has different priorities in their life where time blocking lends itself better than others.

So what do I mean by time blocking? For those who don't know, it's when you actually create appointments or meetings in your calendar that aren't actually meetings. They're more like meetings with yourself that tell you what you're going to do. This is really great for people who struggle with doing something like workout. This often is given as a workout tip. Put it in your calendar, put your workout in your calendar because that's your agreement to yourself that you're going to work out, and so people will schedule their workout. It's kind of like that, except time blocking can go all the way to the extreme of mapping out every minute of your life.

I would say my calendar is probably 80% to 90% time blocked. The percentage that's not time blocked are for weekends and vacation and what I would call the free time of my life, but honestly I feel like most of my time is free time. I just am choosing to do stuff during that time. Especially with those of you who work at home and your personal life intermingles with your professional life, time blocking can really help out designating those boundaries of when you're going to do something specifically.

But it also makes no sense for people who can't predict that. If you've got a newborn and you don't know when they're going to be napping, it can be really difficult. But I actually find time blocking to be really helpful to provide flexibility. So I do time block because, if we go back to one of my other tips of prioritizing daily, I prioritize daily. Those time blocks get moved around and shifted every single day. Every single day I look at my calendar and I'm like I need to prioritize differently. I'm going to move this around. And because I have already time blocked, it's actually making it easier for me to move things around.

So let's take an example. Since we talked about morning routines, in the morning, I do probably the same set of six or seven activities, maybe not in the same order every morning, but for the most part, I am doing certain activities. I could have a whole block that's just like two and a half hours called morning routine or whatever that has all of those activities in it. But I actually break them out so that if something were to come in my way that morning and I have an early morning meeting and I need to move things around, I'm able to because I already have that broken out and able to just click and drag and adjust as needed.

This happens frequently actually, especially for online business owners, or any executives in an office setting, where you have your calendar available for people to schedule meetings or calls with you, you never know when that's going to happen, when your schedule is going to be booked with all sorts of calls or not. Maybe you didn't get any calls booked that day but you have to adjust accordingly.

So oftentimes, time blocking can become a sort of wish list of "if no one schedules an appointment with me this afternoon, this is what I plan on working on." Or you can be a little more generalized; you can actually time block certain activities.

Some people are really great at writing early in the morning because they have the creative juices flowing right after they've woken up, their subconscious is all relaxed and ready to flow and so they'll actually time block writing activities. So it won't necessarily be one project but every single next action in all sorts of their projects that have to do with writing or creative thinking or anything can fit in there.

So there's a lot of ways that you can do this and I cannot predict what all of the things that you have on your plate are. But I recommend going through all of those next actions for each of your projects and kind of get a gist of what would make sense on a routine basis to tackle on. I'm sure you've heard of the managers time versus makers time where you can schedule out all of the things that have to do with you creating stuff versus all of the things that have to do with you meeting and working with other people. So maybe you separate that out on certain days. Or maybe it's mornings are for this; afternoons are for this.

You have to look at all of your activities and determine what activities are made for a routine basis. I believe that most of your business tasks especially should be routine. You need to have a well oiled machine. And yes you'll have special projects every now and then and you'll be scaling. But there are ways to build in assessing your goals and creating new projects on a routine basis. So now's the time to start looking at those things, classifying anything that you need to make routine. Then if you want to schedule it into your calendar and time block it, feel free to do so.

I think this is a lot easier for people to do in their personal lives just because it's so clear cut. If I want to sleep at a certain amount of time and I want to be in bed by 10:00 PM, I can schedule that out and I can time block it and be like: "I'm going to get eight hours of sleep." Then there are other things where it's like every Friday night for us, we like to clean. We like to clean so we can have the weekends free to do whatever we want. So it's not traditional for people to spend their Friday nights cleaning their home, but it works for us. So we have a time blocked every Friday evening to clean our home. And so it works out.

A lot of people find a lot of success in scheduling their workouts, and that's a lot of credit given to the workout industry for making you do it and holding you accountable. So if you are working out three days a week at the gym, that's what you're scheduling out. Or maybe it's you're walking every single day for an hour. Where do you put that in your day? You can schedule that out in your calendar.

Now that we have talked about time blocking, I want you guys to know that if you don't feel like time blocking, it's okay. We're going to go through some strategies and workflows next week that will help you prepare for execution of all those non-scheduled routines and all of those non-routine tasks. So if it's not a routine task, when do you do it if you're time blocking everything? And maybe you do have some routine things you do every day or a week, but they're so minuscule, where does that fit it? You can't make a calendar appointment for a two minute task. Where does that fit in? So we're going to talk about some strategies and work flows. This is getting into the good stuff next week.

So stay tuned for that and I will see you next week!

Subscribe to Productivity
Tip of the Day™ emails