How Calendar Blocking Improves Work & Personal Life
By Deanna deBara Posted September 6, 2021
If you want to be a more productive person, whether at work or in your personal life, you need to maximize how you’re spending your time. And a great way to do that? Calendar blocking.
Calendar blocking is a time management strategy that involves dividing your day, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep, into dedicated blocks of time—and then adding those blocks to your calendar. This creates both a schedule for what’s on your plate for the day and a visual representation of how you’re spending your time.
With calendar blocking, you create dedicated time for everything on your professional and personal to-do list; instead of trying to find time in the day to get things done, you’re creating time to get things done—which can help you prioritize the things that are most important to you, both at work and at home.
Calendar blocking is a surefire way to increase productivity—and improve your life, both at work and at home, in the process. But what, exactly, are the benefits of calendar blocking—and how can you make sure you’re using calendar blocking in a way that allows you to reap those benefits?
The benefits of calendar blocking
There are a variety of ways calendar blocking can improve both your work and personal life, including:
Calendar blocking creates a clear plan for your day
As the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. Calendar blocking allows you to create a solid plan for your day; when you look at your calendar, it’s clear what you need to work on and when you need to work on it.
That kind of planning not only allows you to maximize your day (and make sure you’re checking all the necessary items of your to-do list), but it can also give you a deeper sense of control over your time, which can help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed—no matter what you have to tackle during the day.
Calendar blocking can help you create better work-life balance
If you struggle with work-life balance, you’re not alone; the majority of today’s workforce struggles with creating boundaries around work time and personal time. For example, one 2020 survey found that a whopping 92 percent of knowledge workers reported regularly working nights and weekends.
Luckily, if you’re struggling with work-life balance, calendar blocking can help. When you block out personal time on your calendar just like you would work time, it’s easier to prioritize the things that are important to you outside of work—and find the work-life balance you’re looking for.
For example, if you block out post-work family time just like you would an important client meeting, you’re more likely to make that family time a priority—whereas if you didn’t block it off on your calendar, you might be tempted to stay late to wrap up a project and miss out on quality time with your kids or partner.
Calendar blocking can also clue you into any imbalances in your schedule. For example, if you look at your weekly calendar blocking and realize that 80 percent of your blocks and work-related, you know that you’re only dedicating 20 percent of your time to your personal life—information you can use to readjust your schedule and find a better, more sustainable balance between work and personal time.
Calendar blocking allows for better focus
According to a study from UC Irvine, it takes people, on average, nearly 24 minutes to get to their original level of focus following an interruption. That means every time something distracts you and pulls your attention away from what you’re working on, it takes you almost a half-hour to “get back in the zone.”
With calendar blocking, each block is for a specific task or activity. For example, instead of spending 3 hours jumping between working on a project, checking your email, and scrolling through social media, you might block out 2.5 hours to work on the project—then, when that block, schedule a 15-minute block for email and a 15-minute block for social media. By blocking your calendar this way, you’re able to maintain more focus while working on your project—and prevent distractions from getting in the way of your productivity.
How to use calendar blocking to increase productivity—and improve your life in the process
Clearly, calendar blocking has a variety of benefits for your work and personal life—but that’s only if you do it right.
Here are a few tips to maximize your calendar blocking—and become more productive (professionally and personally) in the process:
- Get specific. The more specific you are with your calendar blocking, the better. For example, instead of blocking out 6 pm to 9 pm for “personal time,” drill into the details of how you’re going to spend those hours of personal time (like “6 pm - 6:30 pm, cooking dinner; 6:30 pm - 7 pm, eating dinner; 7 pm to 7:45 pm, exercise; 7:45 pm to 8 pm, shower; 8 pm to 9 pm, reading and relaxing in bed”). Being specific with your time blocks will ensure you prioritize and schedule everything you want to get done in the day—and aren’t faced with a large block of time you don’t have a plan for.
- Use color-coded blocks. When you look at your calendar, you want to be able to easily and quickly evaluate how you’re spending your time. But if there’s no differentiation between your time blocks, that can be difficult. Color coding your time blocks makes it easy to look at your day and see where your time is going—and can also help you identify if there are any imbalances you need to address. (For example, if you use red blocks for meetings—and notice more than half your day is blocked in red—it could be an indicator that you’re spending too much time in meetings and need to carve out more time for focused work.)
- Commit to your calendar. Calendar blocking only works if you stick to your scheduled blocks. So, when a time block is over, it’s time to move on to the next project, task, or activity; otherwise, calendar blocking isn’t going to give you the control over your time necessary for increasing productivity. For example, if it’s the end of the day and it’s time to move from your “work email” block to your “post-work run” block, you need to shut down your computer, lace up your shoes, and hit the pavement—even (and especially!) if you’re tempted to send “just one more” email.
- Be realistic with your blocking. Realistic time blocking is a must if you want to use calendar blocking effectively; if you’re not giving yourself enough time to get things done, your calendar is going to make you feel less in control of your time—not more in control. Be realistic with how much time you need to tackle each block—then build in a 10 to 15-minute buffer in case whatever you’re working on takes a bit longer than expected. And don’t forget to schedule breaks throughout the day!
Use calendar blocking to improve your life at work and at home
If you want to get more done, both in your work life and your personal life, you need to be in control of your time. And now that you know how to use calendar blocking to gain more control over your day—and increase productivity, both personal and professional, in the process—all that’s left to do? Get out there and start blocking your time!
Do you use calendar blocking? Does it sound insane? Let us know in the comments.
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