Blocking Time

How do you structure your work schedule each day? If you’re like most people, you really don’t structure it. Or you open your email in the morning and let IT tell you what to do.

I’ll tell you, there’s no better way to slice and dice your day into hopeless little pieces.

Instead, start every day by blocking time. Scribble a complete list of everything that’s barking for attention. Not everything is equally important – heck, not everything even needs to be done at all. Cross off anything you can forget about or delegate. Next, mark anything that doesn’t have to be worked on today.

Now you’re ready to lay out your schedule for the day.

Block time first for the most important activities. BUT—that doesn’t mean you have to do those things first. In fact, since those are often the most complicated and time-consuming, piling them up in the morning may just guarantee you’ll never finish everything. Instead, scatter those non-negotiables through the day.

You might not be working on the Dickerson project the moment you sit down in the morning, but you know that 10:30 to 12:00 is for the Dickerson project, period. And work on the budget summary is scheduled for 1:00-1:30, the revenue forecast is 3:00-3:45, and the inventory report is 4:15-4:45. Block those projects first, then fill in the gaps between them with negotiables—the things you’d like to finish today, but don’t absolutely have to.

What happens if you need extra time on that budget summary? It bleeds over into the time scheduled for those less important things. Maybe one of the less important items gets bumped to Tuesday. So what? You finished the thing that needed finishing, and you still start the revenue forecast on time.

Now what if you had stacked your non-negotiables at the beginning of the day, and each one took more time than you thought? Now you’ve got crucial things bumping into crucial things. That’s not going to end well. Something important is going to end up unfinished.

It’s like the old story of the jar, the rocks, the pebbles, and the sand. Put the sand in the jar first and there’s no room for the pebbles or rocks. But put in the big rocks first—the most important things—then you can pour the pebbles and the sand into the spaces in between, and everything fits.

Likewise, when you make your daily schedule, block time for the big, important things first, but allow space for the less important things in between. Do this and you’ll never have to tell your boss you were too busy to do what was most important.


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