How Time Blocking All Week Amplified My Productivity
My productivity this week has been off the rails.
I’m not even joking. I’ve written 6 articles, read 2 books, completed 4 workouts (2 more to go), went on 3 (10k step) walks, made healthy lunches every day, drank close to a gallon of water every day, and managed to see the sunset every evening.
How? Because I found a system that works and amplifies my productivity daily and provides me with the structure that I need to have the perfect work-life balance.
All it takes is learning a little bit of time blocking.
Definition: Timeblocking or time blocking is a productivity technique for personal time management where a period of time — typically a day or week — is divided into smaller segments or blocks for specific tasks or to-dos. It integrates the function of a calendar with that of a to-do list. It is a kind of scheduling.
Give yourself an early morning wake-up call.
If you’re in a stage of your life where you want to succeed more so than you want to hang out with your friends or do other things, then waking up early should not be a problem for you.
Waking up early instills discipline in you; it makes your brain go from thinking, “I have all the time in the world, I can do the job whenever” to, “I have a mission. My mission is to complete x, y, and z today; we’re getting up early to do so.”
I set my alarm to 5 o'clock every day this week. No snoozing, no laying around and pondering life, just a 30-second time frame to turn the alarm off, rub the sleep out of my eyes, and put my slippers on.
I give myself a 30-minute window to do my skincare and change into something cozy.
It’s dark out and cold; there’s no need to be physically uncomfortable. I make coffee, fill up my flask of water, take my vitamins — a ritual that I never skip out on, and light candles.
It’s cozy, the heater’s on, the smell of coffee is in the air, and I’m already feeling alert.
Step 1 is complete.
Time block your most important tasks first.
I really can’t get much done in the afternoon; I used to believe that living somewhere sunny would motivate me to work hard; instead, it makes me want to lounge around and get a tan while I’m at it.
This is why I try to utilize my mornings for writing. The world is quiet, nobody is bothering me, and the sun isn’t trying to seduce me with its high UV rays.
I write till my next scheduled activity, which is usually a workout. If you’re okay with working out later in the day, do it. However, if I push off my workout after 11 or 12, I won’t do it. I don’t enjoy it, so instead, I get it out of the way early.
After my workout is complete, I give myself 30–45 minutes to shower and get ready for the day. I use to never get ready. If I’m sitting at home all day, who do I need to get ready for?
However, psychotherapist Elizabeth Beecroft says,
“The way we dress has a correlation with our emotional state, if we’re looking a bit crusty, in the same outfit we’ve worn the last few days, that has an impact on how we feel either in general or about ourselves. Getting dressed in the morning can play a role in your mood throughout the day and lead to further productivity, optimism, motivation, and an overall improved mood.”
I found what she said validating. I always feel 10x better when I’m out of my pj’s and freshly showered. I’m not saying you should spend 2+ hours on your hair and makeup every day, but doing the smallest of things can make you feel so much better about yourself.
I personally don’t do anything crazy; I find that fixing my hair and applying some lipstick with a comfy yet cute lounge outfit does the trick.
Then, back to work I go. Typically I edit whatever I was writing on earlier; I find that giving myself a little break and coming back with a fresh pair of eyes provides me with a new perspective.
Schedule a break during your midday slump.
I’m not a fan of afternoons; that 2–4 o'clock time frame usually beats all my willpower to work. Therefore, I scheduled a break during that time. After lunch, or before lunch, I always go for a walk and reward myself with some coffee.
The fresh air truly helps, and I can get my dose of vitamin D. I live in LA, it’s always sunny. Although, when I lived in Washington, I almost always went for a walk during the afternoon despite weather conditions — I had to walk my dog.
Walking might not sound enticing, but if you’re like me, a treat might motivate you. Stop by a coffee shop somewhere and get an iced coffee, or tea, or whatever your heart desires.
When I return, I have a scheduled reading session. I was struggling to get any reading done for a while. I’d tell myself I would read before bed, but by the time I would go to bed, I’d be so tired that I’d barely get through 2–3 pages.
By giving myself “free time” to simply read, I’ve been able to go through several books on my reading list in under a week.
Back to work after your break.
After giving yourself a bit of free time to do whatever, or in my case, read, I get back to work. For whatever reason, I almost always feel motivated again to get back to my computer.
Maybe it’s the ideas I get from reading, maybe it’s the break I provide my brain — whatever it is, it works. Around 4 o’clock, I have 1 task to complete; usually, if I feel like writing, I’ll do that. If not, I’ll edit a pre-filmed YouTube video.
Some days you feel inspired and driven to work in the evenings; other days, you don’t. Instead of forcing myself to do things, I gauge how I feel and assign a task that I know I can complete.
Editing videos is soothing to me, it allows me to be creative, and because I’ve edited close to 200 videos, it also feels slightly like “mindless” work.
Identify the things you can do that feel like “mindless” work but still make you feel productive and on top of your to-do list.
Complete your day.
I schedule dinner at 5/6 pm, depending on when my partner gets home and whether I’m done with my own work.
I went through a streak of eating dinner right before going to bed because of the lack of structure I had with my day, or skipping dinner altogether, which wasn’t a very good idea.
So scheduling it in helped significantly; it kind of gave me that, “hey, the workday is coming to an end, it’s time to fuel yourself” vibe.
Some days, my partner and I cook together, which is a nice little way to bond with your significant other or roommate if you have them. Other times, I turn on a podcast and whip up a quick meal alone.
We eat dinner together, or if we’re too busy, we eat at our computers until our work is officially done. I end my day by creating a schedule for the following morning; I write my must-do’s out and a goal or two for the day.
I finish the night off with a chapter or two of my book. I’m in bed around 8/9.
I fall asleep before 10, which makes waking up at 5 am significantly easier.
You don’t need to wake up at 5 am to become successful, but what are the cons if you really think about it?
You don’t need to add structure to your day to be productive, but doesn’t it feel nice to be able to go to bed with a completed checklist and the feeling of knowing you won the day?
Everything you do today is setting you up for the future that you want to have.
I decided I no longer wanted to leave my future up to fate. If other people can achieve success, I can too, and the least I can do is set myself up in the best possible way to get to that point.
Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, says,
“Success is never accidental.”
I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Success doesn’t just knock on your door like a magical gift sent from the universe. It’s a process, one that can only come to fruition through hard work, discipline, and perseverance.
If you lack structure, if you lack discipline and if you ever go to bed thinking, “darn… I didn’t get to it today (after saying this every night for the last year). It’s okay. I’ll get to it tomorrow.”
Then, try time blocking. You’ll be surprised by the results. I know I was.