Increasing Productivity

Doing This One Thing Every Day Completely Changed My Productivity

I wish I had done this years earlier.

Photo by Windows on Unsplash

Over this pandemic, I needed a boost to how I got stuff done — at work and at home.

If you’re anything like me, then having a clean workspace, a cup of coffee, and a comfy sweater make a world of a difference when it comes to productivity.

However, what happens when that no longer works? What happens when you’re stuck and can’t seem to get that productivity bug back?

Well, I’ve talked about the effectiveness of time-blocking with so many people, but never really tried it out for myself.

What is time blocking?

Well, to put it simply, it’s when you block out times for specific tasks, errands, projects, etc.

Having it clearly written down puts my brain at ease because I know I won’t be pacing aimlessly trying to figure out what to do next.

It’s right there, on my calendar, color-coded and everything.

Why does it help?

Sure, you can easily write down a to-do list of all the things you have to get done that day.

Now, think of how many times items went unchecked because your to-do list was so jam-packed… This probably happens more often than you know. At least, it absolutely does for me.

Time-blocking helps because the more you do it, the better you how long it takes you to do a certain task.

So, if you set aside 30 minutes to do a clean-up of your apartment, house, wherever it is you live, you might come to find that it takes closer to 45 minutes to an hour.

If you set aside 3 hours to write a blog post, you might find it only takes you 2.

It helps to have your tasks time blocked because your brain knows how much time to allocate, and it makes stopping that much easier.

It takes practice, however.

When you time block for the first few times you might find that your scheduling was completely off. That’s okay! This will happen!

Nothing is perfect the first time — or ever… and there is nothing wrong with that.

Even after doing this for some time, I don’t always stick to my written schedule. Life happens and plans change.

Flexibility is super important, especially if there’s a certain task that’s on a deadline, or needs some extra attention.

Like I said earlier, the more you do this the better it gets.

An example of my day time blocked:

I work a 9–5. Well, 8–5, but I take a 1-hour lunch, so time blocking my workday and my home tasks help me feel like I have my day planned out as efficiently as possible.

I work in finance (back-office support) so this is what a typical Tuesday looks like for me at work:

  • 7 am — breakfast and journal
  • 8 am-9 am— Schwab alerts
  • 9 am-10:30 am — Recon
  • 10:30 am-11 am — AS Meeting
  • 11 am-1 pm — Focus time on important tasks/projects
  • 1 pm-2 pm — lunch(workout/go on a walk)
  • 2 pm-4 pm— DS Inbox/SF Portal
  • 4 pm-5 pm— catch up on emails

When I finish work I still time block my home life. I WFH currently, and it’s been serving me really well. What my after work home life looks like:

  • 5 pm — Go on a 30-minute walk
  • 6 pm — Make dinner
  • 7:30 pm — Write
  • 9 pm — Read book
  • 10:30 pm — Bedtime

This changes day by day, but I aim to read at 9 pm every night and be asleep (or at least face washed and in bed) by 10:30.

Does that always happen? No, but I know that’s my goal, so it helps to know what time I’ve allocated for what tasks. It makes sticking to it that much easier.

Time block your self-care

I cannot stress this enough. Gone are the days when we can play like children and have the hours fly by without any consequences.

Because our days get so packed with errands and all the mundane things we have to do, we tend to put our me-time on the back-burner.

DON’T DO IT.

Schedule it, for real. Your mental health will thank you.

As you can see, I have my walks and reading scheduled. This is my me-time and I need it to stay sane. My partner is the exact same way.

You don’t have to time block every single day

But, you might find that you really love it.

Yes, I time block my weekends because I’m such a flighty person. I jump from task to task without finishing, and then I stress over not getting something done, so I panic. Having a schedule of how I’m going to relax actually helps to relax — believe it or not…

My partner has severe ADHD so this helps him on his days off as well. Otherwise, he literally paces in place. I’m not even kidding.

But, as I said above, you don’t have to time block every day. Leave your weekends free so you can spend your brunch soaking up the sun with your friends without worrying about getting to your next task. Revel in that mimosa and get all that juicy gossip you’ve been waiting all week to hear about from your best friend.

When I go on vacation and I only have one thing planned — like going to the beach — I don’t time block that. I know that I’ll be spending time at the beach and will eventually need food. So, that’s all I do — and I don’t need a time blocked calendar telling me that.

So, try it and tell me if it helps you or completely throws you off. I have a feeling it will be the former.

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If you liked what you read, check out my blog for more.

I work in Finance by day, write and sing by night, along with all the other projects happening in my life. Cat mom. She/her. Creator/Editor of Lean In.

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