You know that task on your to-do list that you keep brushing aside? The one that lingers when everything else has been crossed off. The one that requires your full attention, no distractions, but that you always find a reason to put off until tomorrow. These are the tasks that often take you to the next level and also require some intention on your end. These are the tasks that require time blocking.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is when you intentionally set aside time to put your head down so you can work on what moves you forward professionally and affects the bottom line of your business.
How do you guard it?
- Put the music on (if this helps to focus attention)
- Turn off email notifications
- Choose to let incoming phone calls go to voicemail or silence your phone
- Choose to say no to the easy interruptions that bombard you
- Choose to postpone the requests and questions others think you should answer
- Communicate with team members that you have your head down and give them a time frame of when you are available
So you have your space set but how do you make sure you stay on task? Call a friend before going into your “heads down” work and tell them you will call in an hour. Tell them when you talk to them again after the hour is up, you will have accomplished “such and such.”
You could also ask an admin or a co-worker to be with you in the same physical space. They can work on their task while you work on yours. Before you begin working, tell each other what you are trying to get done in the next hour. When your time is up, share your progress.
You may also want to consider calling your colleague, friend or coach on Sunday night to talk through the week ahead. Share with them about the upcoming week and go over what your goals and priorities are.
Use Props for Productivity
Sometimes you just need to let yourself and others around you know that it’s time to focus. Set up signage that goes across your office entry and alerts other co-workers that you are not available. Some workers go so far as using Caution tape, but it could be a simple sign that says “Heads Down.”
Use a Time Timer that can show you how time is elapsing. That way you will rely on looking at the timer and not the computer nor a digital tool for tracking time, so you do not get pulled into other work on your computer.
Don’t let those high-level tasks float from one to-do list to the next. Take them by the reigns and schedule them into your busy day, specifically at a time when your brain is fresh. As you begin to make this part of your weekly schedule, it will likely become something you can’t live without.
Co-authored with Bev Moranetz, owner of Streamline Organizing Solutions, LLC