Blocking time doesn’t work for me. Blocking tasks works better.
One of the most common productivity hacks is blocking time. The act of blocking out time on your calendar for a specific task. You are making an appointment with yourself, so you are more likely to follow through. I’ve read this tip for how to get your exercise time in, for getting your writing done, to work on the business side of your creative business. Whatever you want to do but just can’t find the time for, you are supposed to put it on your calendar and then you will probably do it.
That advice didn’t really work for me. I would schedule time on the calendar to do something, and something else, something more interesting would come up, so I would just drag and drop that task to another time. And then maybe I would drag and drop it again. It’s the digital age of procrastination. In grad school, I was crowned Queen of Procrastination.
Instead of thinking about blocking time to do a task, I started blocking the tasks themselves.
Two posts I create regularly for social media are Writing Prompts and Writing Thoughts. I would create these posts every week and then schedule them, thinking how much time I’ve saved because now I don’t have to worry about posting them on the day I want them to go up.
I did this for a while, and then wondered to myself: Maybe I could do this for more than one week at a time? I wouldn’t have to worry about creating them for weeks if I did several and scheduled them all out.
So, I tried it. I created six posts each of Writing Prompts and Writing Thoughts and scheduled them. Now, instead of worrying about creating this content every week, I didn’t have to worry about creating it for six weeks! And since they are both graphics that I can just swap out content, they are quick to make, so I probably saved a lot of time by creating them all at once. The entire process took about two hours. I know I would have spent at least that much time doing them every week.
And the best part is now I can focus on other areas of my business.
Blocking Tasks 2.0
I recently learned of another version of blocking tasks that I want to try but haven’t yet. This version is designed to help you create a habit that you want to form. I learned this version from Amie McNee, who is a writing coach and author. You can find her on Instagram @InspiredtoWrite, where she talks about this and so many other important things for creatives.
She advocates for blocking different types of tasks so that when you do one task, you will automatically think to do the other. So, for a runner who wants to write, perhaps their set of blocked tasks might be to run, take a shower, and then write 500 words.
According to her, you can tie a new habit to an old one easier than just trying to form a new habit. And it could be linked to a habit you don’t think of as a habit, like brushing your teeth. You always brush your teeth, I assume, so you can tack the habit you want to form onto brushing your teeth. Your body will just start moving through each task because it knows that once you do the first thing, it is time for the second thing.
I say I haven’t tried this version of blocking tasks yet, but that’s not true. I do it all the time without thinking. At one time, I ate cereal with lots of milk every morning. With the leftover milk, I would take my vitamins. It was such an ingrained habit that when I finished eating my cereal, I would look at the milk and search out my vitamins. When I stopped eating cereal every morning, I consistently forgot to take my vitamins. The two events were so solidly linked together I couldn’t do one without the other.
This habit must have consciously begun at some point. I just didn’t think of them as blocked tasks. I was simply eating my breakfast and taking some vitamins.
Doing the Tasks
Whether I am blocking the same task together to get more done at once or blocking different tasks together to develop and keep a habit of doing something, I still have to actually do it. I already mentioned that time blocking does little for me.
I work well with external deadlines. If someone else is expecting me to get something complete by a certain day and time, I am all over it. I will get it done. But, if the deadline is self-imposed, I am a little loose with the timeframe, which is why blocking time doesn’t work for me. It is too easy to move things around on the calendar. For some reason, they will more likely get done if I call them goals and include them in a weekly list of goals.
We all have to find a way to work that works best for us. I am always working through processes and finding better ways to be productive and encourage rest. Rest is essential to work (another thing I learned from Amie and others).
How do you get things done and find time to rest? Comment below or contact me!
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