Be calm while accomplishing more
If your schedule is like mine, you may often feel like you have TONS to do but not enough time to do it. No matter how much I accomplish, it seems like I always feel behind! I often feel like I am being busy, but not necessarily being productive with what I want to accomplish. If you have felt this, I have some great news... there are strategies that can help!
I talked the other day with a colleague of mine, Philippe Danielides about this topic. Philippe is a work and life coach and former Corporate Lawyer and Communications Strategist for Fortune 500 companies. Philippe has researched and practiced the process of time blocking and has had great results for both himself and his clients. He was nice enough to share some of these strategies with me!
4 ways to use time blocking to help you accomplish more while remaining calm
1. The "junk drawer" strategy
One of the large reasons we feel stress with work is because we commonly have large important projects but not enough time to work on them. Often times we have lots of small tasks that come up throughout the day that fill up our time and get in the way of getting our important projects finished. One of the strategies for fixing this to dedicate a block of time as your "junk drawer" time. Let me explain...
You might not want to admit to it, but we all probably have at home a "junk drawer". The drawer that collects the random stuff that doesn't quite have a designated place. Well, our schedule also often has tasks like this too... such as returning a phone call, sending out that letter, or running a quick errand. These tasks pop up throughout our day, and since they don't have a designated time in our schedule, we often stop what we are in the middle of to get them done. Although these tasks may seem urgent at the time, typically, they are fine to wait a couple of hours before getting them done.
Phillippe recommends blocking out a part of your day for when you can get these random tasks done. He calls this time his "junk drawer." By designating a specific time in your schedule to get these tasks done, when tasks come up throughout the day, you will be less inclined to interrupt what you are currently working on to handle them. Rather, you can write them down to accomplish during your junk drawer time block.
This will help you to feel calmer because instead of bouncing from task to task, you will be able to maintain your focus on what is in front of you while knowing you will have a designated time in the day to accomplish all the random tasks that need to get done.
2. Accomplish large projects with daily small steps
Since you will be able to reduce the amount of distraction by using the "junk drawer" time block, you will be able to focus better on your important projects. However, just reducing these distractions alone will not necessarily create time to get these projects done. If you have 'free time' in your schedule, something always tends to fill it up. To solve this, block off time for your projects... even if you just block off 20 minutes per day! These small daily steps will start to add up! During this time, don't focus on future details of the project, simply focus on what the next step is. Try to consistently take one small step each day. Small habits will lead to large impacts. Doing this consistently can help you to feel more calm with your work because each day you will know that you made progress towards your large project.
3. Discover what to say NO to
When looking at your calendar for the week and all that you would like to accomplish, start to designate a time value for each task (or area of tasks). How many hours would you like to spend working on your projects? How much time will you spend on your "junk drawer" activities?
Now, think about how many hours you plan to work this week... such as 40 hours. Start with the most important tasks and subtract the amount of time for each task from your total 40 hours of work. You may start to realize that you do not have enough hours in the week to accomplish all you had hoped! This is a good thing! This will force you to choose what you will have to say NO to this week. You will realize what tasks you need to eliminate or delegate from your schedule. By performing this behavior, you can start to create a better plan for the week that gives you a realistic strategy to accomplish all that you need to and eliminate what you don't!
4. Schedule a buffer
When you are planning your schedule using time blocking, one of the large problems that often comes up is not accurately anticipating the amount of time a project will require. When this happens, it can throw off your entire day! By pushing back one time block, it pushes back all the subsequent time blocks as well! This causes us to try and play catch up the rest of the day. (which is stressful)
To help with this, schedule into your day some "buffer" time. This can be time after a project that you may potentially think could take longer than expected. For example, if you think a certain meeting may take 1 hour, but could potentially go for an hour and a half, schedule that extra 30 minutes into your schedule. If the meeting goes over, the rest of your schedule will not be thrown off. If the meeting doesn't go over, use that extra half hour to treat yourself! Go on a walk, get your favorite coffee, or go talk with your colleagues about the weekend... use this time as guilt-free time! You earned it!
Action step you can take NOW!
- Time block your email
A large step you can take now is tackling your email! Email is such an amazing tool. However, it can also suck up a TON of time if we aren't careful. Often times we feel we need to be constantly checking our email and responding immediately... however, this is very rarely the case. Almost all emails are fine to wait at least a couple of hours.
Designate time into your schedule when you will check and respond to your emails. For example, at 11AM and again at 4PM. During these times, check and respond to emails for 40 minutes. The rest of the day DON'T check your email! Turn off your notifications on your phone! It is too easy to let it turn into a distraction that pulls your focus from what you should be working on. Also, by scheduling time like this, it can help you to remain calm about your email because you know that any email that comes in, you have a planned time to respond to it.
So get to it! What is one small-time block you can put into your day now? What could you start blocking off time for every day for 20 minutes that will change the way your life looks in 6 months?
If you need help, check out Philippe's coaching. He can help you be more productive and feel calmer!
Also, check out the GoalCrazy planner. It will help you discover your goals, break them down into small action steps, and hold yourself accountable to take action daily! Check it out below!
More about Philippe
First of all, I want to say a HUGE thank you to Phillippe for sharing his advice! If you want to learn more about him and his services, check it out here, he offers one-on-one coaching as well as scheduled group retreats! Check it out!