Time Blocking: Once You Estimate How Long Tasks Take, Where Do You Go from There?

A lot of people have heard of the concept of time blocking – figuring out how long tasks take so you can schedule them on your calendar. But sometimes in the process of time blocking, folks can get stressed about how much planning they need to do. Here’s an example….

Time blocking question from a client:

“I completed a Mind Liberation as you recommended in your book, and it turned into a huge task list of everything I need to, want to, and dream about getting done. I am estimating that the above tasks [not listed in this post] will take about 180 hours. I was shocked when I added all the hours up. I tried to give myself a realistic estimate, based on the idea that I need to double the amount of time I usually estimate a job will take. Prior to this, I have always underestimated the amount of time a job took, and was disappointed and frustrated that I was not able to do the job in a shorter amount of time – exactly as you described in your book. My question: what is a reasonable amount of hours per month I can actually work on these projects? Do you think my list will take me through December? I want to plan each month with a reasonable goal for the month.”

My time blocking response:

OUTSTANDING job estimating the time these tasks take, and then doubling because you realize that you underestimate! I must confess that most people don’t take the extra step of adding up how many hours in total everything will take. That can be a little scary for some folks. If you find that the big number becomes overwhelming, please don’t worry about trying to plan out entire months at a time. Simply take a few top priority tasks each week and get them scheduled onto your calendar.

If you want to go ahead with planning the entire month(s) out, the amount of time you can allot to these tasks will depend on the rest of your life’s schedule. Some of what you listed are daily maintenance tasks. Others are projects or stand-alone tasks.

Assuming you’re in bed (reading/resting/sleeping) for 8 hours each evening, that leaves 16 hours of awake time each day. Here’s an example of time blocking from one of my clients this week:

 

2 hours – morning routine of meditation, breakfast, shower, dressing

1 hour – commute (30 in AM and 30 in PM)

8 hours – work

1 hour – time for “fires” or opportunities; if none, this turns into project time

1 hour – dinner, eating

1 hour – dishes, pack lunch, kitchen clean up, sort mail

1 hour – maintenance

1 hour – me time

 

On the weekends, work time and commute time (9 hours on Saturday and 9 on Sunday) are substituted with errands and projects/tasks and fun time. No day is perfect, but at least she has an idea of how she’d like to spend her time, so this helps keep her focused.

When you have an idea of how much time you’d like to spend on which parts of your life, how many days you’ll be out of town or have appointments, etc., this will give you a better idea if this project list will take you into December or January or February or….

Remember, if you find that the big number becomes overwhelming, please don’t worry about trying to plan out entire months at a time. Simply take a few top priority tasks each week and get them scheduled onto your calendar.

How would you like to try time blocking your upcoming week?

About Helene Segura, M.A. Ed., CPO®

As The Inefficiency Assassin™, Time Management Fixer Helene Segura empowers professionals on the go with the tools to slay lost time. Personal inefficiency at work leads to increased stress levels, lower morale, higher absenteeism, more turnover – and rising spending on employee health care and hiring. Why not improve productivity, decrease stress levels, and increase profits instead? The author of four books – two of which were Amazon best-sellers – Helene Segura has been the featured organization expert in more than 200 media interviews. She has coached hundreds of clients to productivity success and performance improvement by applying neuroscience and behavioral modification techniques to wipe out destructive, time-wasting habits. Helene turns time management on its head by sharing both client case studies and pop culture examples to teach her mind-bending framework for decreasing interruptions, distractions and procrastination so that companies can spend more time generating revenue.

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