The arrival of spring inspires a lot of us to try and be more organized. We go on wild, Marie Kondo-esque purges of our closets (you can rip my skinny jeans out of my cold-dead hands) and write out weekly cleaning manifestos we later have a hard time sticking to (like that resolution to avoid Bullseye’s Playground in Target). But what if it’s not the type of tasks you do on a daily basis that needs rearranging, but when and how you do them?
I’m talking about block scheduling, a method of day planning that can make all the difference.
How Block Scheduling Works
When it comes to organizing, I’m a very visual person. Give me a calendar or a list and my soul is happy (color code it and we will be besties for life). Block scheduling takes it a step further by dividing your day into segments, or blocks. These blocks can be as long or short as you want, but the objective is the same: focus on one task and one task only during each block. The goal of block scheduling is to leave a task fully completed before moving onto the next one.
Benefits of Block Scheduling
Everyone knows there are not enough hours in the day. And I agree, most days it feels like the sun rose and set while I was drowning in my inbox. Breaking up your day into blocks can help you see clearly what you need to get done that day so you avoid feeling like Stretch-Out Sam being pulled in 10 different directions.
Need a reason to try it? Here are 10 benefits of using block scheduling to organize your day:
- Removes distractions that inhibit your ability to focus
- Counteracts bad habits like procrastination by giving you a “deadline”
- Provides a more clear picture of your availability for new commitments as well as your bandwidth for taking on more work
- Makes scheduling activities and appointments easier
- Increases productivity overall by enabling you to complete tasks
- Communicates to your partner or family member what you have going on that day
- Allows you to better prioritize what you need to get done in a day
- Helps you determine how long certain tasks actually take so you can reevaluate your schedule
- Keeps you focused and energized with less anxiety about getting it all finished
- Sets a clear cutoff point for each task as well as the working part of your day
The key is to stick to your schedule once you set it and try to limit outside distractions and other tasks from bleeding into that time. Turn off push notifications or set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” if you can.
Getting Started With Block Scheduling
Does all this organization talk get you as pumped as me? If you’re ready to get started, here’s how to begin using the block scheduling method:
- Make a list of your daily tasks throughout the week
- Looking for common themes (work, errands, family time, wellness, etc.)
- Start organizing those tasks under your most common themes and by order of importance
- Make a note of any time commitments you cannot change
- Think about when you feel most energized and productive and schedule accordingly
A sample day could look like this:
6 to 8 am: Self-care (exercise, getting dressed, etc.)
8 to 9 am: Family time (checking in on the day’s agenda, having breakfast, etc.)
9 am to 12 pm: Work
12 to 1 pm: Lunch
1 to 5 pm: Work
5 to 6 pm: Errands
6 to 9 pm: Family time (make/eat dinner, watch a movie, outside activities, etc.)
9 to 10 pm: Self-care (meditation/winding down, preparing for bed)
Once you’ve set the main framework of your day, you can break down those blocks even further. The more granular you get, the more structured your day. For example, blocking off 9 am to 12 pm and 1 to 5 pm as “Work” is great because that means you won’t schedule any other appointments during that time, but that’s a big chunk of time. Here’s a sample of how to block out a work day:
9 to 10 am: Catch up on emails, calls and other correspondence.
10 am to 12 pm: Meetings, routine tasks, etc.
12 to 1 pm: Break for lunch
1 to 2 pm: Second catchup on emails, calls, etc.
2 to 4 pm: Meetings, routine tasks, etc.
4 to 4:30 pm: Final check of emails, calls, etc.
4:30 to 5 pm: Prep for tomorrow and sign off
While this won’t work for every type of job, in this example I set up specific times for tasks like emails because otherwise we can become beholden to our inbox all day long. Checking every ping and notification can distract us from getting anything else done to the best of our ability. Each block in your daily schedule will have its own to-do list to make the best use of that time. It’s that simple!
If you like lists like I do, you can even get these handy daily schedule sheets to help you plan for each time block.
How do you structure your day to be your most productive self? Share with us in the comments.