Maximise Your Productivity with this Simple Calendar Hack

By Aidan Heron

If you want to block time out to ‘work’ then follow these two steps:

i) Make the time blocks 45–90 minutes long.
ii) Turn off all distractions and do nothing else.

Step 1) Keep it linear not parallel

Any serious conversation about getting more done is almost always ruined by one thing.


Yes, most people will conceed that they can’t really do several things at once. Brains are only equipped to deal with one task at a time.

Switching back and forth between tasks does not improve how much you get done.

I know, it can be really tempting to just quickly check your [insert distraction here] in the middle of a project.

Only quickly. To prepare for the next block of work.


Instantly, you’ve ruined the next 20–30 minutes of whatever you were originally working on. Even if you switch straight back to the original task at hand.

You’re left with with a horrible residue of cognitive strain.

Wasted attention.

It’s like a sticky glaze of syrup surrounding your brain and making it harder to think.

You guessed it, this gloop of mess takes roughly 20 minutes to clear.

Cast out those 15 minute work blocks. Doesn’t even allow time to shift into the right gear.

Anything worth doing needs at least 45 minutes, preferably 90 minutes.

Step 2) Don’t Plan, Explore

There is something refreshing about having a day clear of scheduled interactions. Take a look at what now constitues a typical week in my calendar.

My calendar for next week.

I’ve done the whole optimise your day, down to the minute and guess sucked. Badly.

Yes, sometimes things have to be scheduled (like board meetings) or family get togethers.

But mostly, I avoid them.


To focus on going deep with my work. It’s where I am able to best bring value to any partnership, business venture or project.

If something does get added, I aim for at least half a day. Preferably a full day. Which really means: [Day X] is now dedicated to [Business a/Project b].

It’s much better than splitting your day down into wasted (see step 1 above) 15–20 minute chunks.

99% of the time it isn’t needed. Honestly.

Learn to value your time working intently and exploring ideas openly.

It could lead to great opportunties.

It has for me.

Last week: The only prescheduled item was at 1700 on Friday 20th January 2017. A brilliant Lecture by Cedric Villani (I recommend his Ted talk here for an introduction)

A week in the past now consists of long blocks of (relatively) constant activity.

If it wasn’t productive, try and be honest with yourself, leave the time blank.

As you can see, I’ve still got a lot of progress to make.

But it’s a start.

Open one of those up and what you want to see is a collection of quick notes about what actually happend. What tasks were completed and where your mind/thought process was at the time.

Externalising in this way is great for freeing up your mind to focus on the bigger picture problems.

Bonus: Gain a Superpower

As you train your concentration muscles by working in those 45–90 minute blocks they learn to work for longer and more intensely.

Freeing up the strain of remembering everything that happened just compounds this. You can literally hack your calendar to give you a superpower.

You don’t get linear improvements but exponential.

Just imagine how much more you could get done!

I’m not saying I’ve got this nailed down just yet, it’s an ongoing experiment…let’s see where it leads.

Comment Below: Do you schedule your day to the minute or leave things open and see where it leads?

About the Author

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