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How One Productivity Technique Changed My Life

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Time is the most valuable asset we have. For much of my life, I struggled to manage it effectively and I’m sure many of you can relate.

There came a moment in my life where I realized that while everyone has the same amount of time, most people aren’t using theirs effectively. Upon this realization, I wanted to find out how I could organize my days better. To try and achieve this, I researched different methods of time management and found one that changed my life for the better. This method is called block scheduling.

Block scheduling is a simple productivity method that can work for almost anyone. Whether you use Google Calendar or a traditional planner, this approach to managing your time is extremely effective.

When you use the block scheduling method, you create blocks of time for every task on your list or every work or social event you plan on attending. You put these down as specific times rather than having a to-do list of items that have no set timeframe.

This is effective because when you set a specific start and end time for every task, you know you need to accomplish that task then and there. It gives you a clear motive and directive to what you need to get done. This helps you waste less time thinking about what work you need to accomplish in the time you have and instead you will know exactly what to do in specific timeframes throughout your day.

Block scheduling is not limited to appointments or things that have a scheduled time. It is something you can use for every aspect of your life. Scheduling when you plan to wake up, sleep, and eat your meals is a great way to get started. Use the structure of your day to figure out where you can fill the gaps between those essential “blocks” on your calendar with productive work.

Another good example of this would be to use things like your classes (if you are in school), travel time and when you plan to eat to see exactly what kind of “free time” you have in your day.

Going from there, a great way to fill in the rest of your day would be to take the most important tasks on your to-do-list and slot them into your block schedule. For example, if you have an exam you need to study for but you have class between 10 AM – 2 PM, you should maybe block out some time from 8 AM – 10:30 AM to get some studying out of the way.

Block scheduling works the best when you can knock the most important items off your list first and then tackle the less important ones later. This is because when it comes to block scheduling, you may not always finish what you want to within that allotted time. By having the most important items scheduled first, it gives you later blocks to fall back on and adjust if need be.

🗓️ Why You Should Use Block Scheduling

This is a subject I am very passionate about. It is my belief, and the belief of many successful people, to achieve your goals, you need to make sacrifices. As we’ve talked about earlier, many people are wasting more time than they think and are living pretty unproductive lives when you look at the numbers.

A good series to look at which showcases how block scheduling has worked for many people would be the YouTube series Vanity Fair has on how different celebrities spend their days. A great example of one can be found here. It’s the Terry Crews episode and it shows how effective block scheduling is just by the way he talks about his day to day activities and structure.

Once you look at your day to day from this viewpoint, you will begin to realize you have a lot more time than you think you do. It’s important to utilize the time you have so you can get the most out of your day and see where you can improve the different aspects of your life.

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For example, to achieve my goals of building an online brand and business, I began waking up at 5 AM almost every day. I say almost every day because I believe doing something 5 out of 7 days of the week is enough to say you have built a strong habit and are doing something consistently. Expecting yourself to be perfect every day is stressful and nearly impossible, so why waste the energy. More on that rule later.

The reason I decided to start waking up so early is that I found I was able to be a morning person quite easily. I built up a tolerance to waking up early from years of early Track and Cross Country practice without feeling like I was ever hating it. The switch from 6:30 AM to 5 AM ended up not being too bad for me.

While this may not be the same for you, I recommend trying to get your schedule in a place where you can block out an hour to an hour and a half for yourself. This time can be used to start working on the things you feel like you never have time for. As we talked about in the motivation section, this could be physical goals, side hustle goals, or whatever gives you a lot of push and pull motivation. The love I have for building a brand is what gets me up and out of bed at 5 AM, not because I love waking up that early.

I never would have found this extra time existed if I didn’t look at my days from a block scheduling perspective. The most unproductive time in the day for me was at night and I realized if I moved an hour and a half to the morning and went to bed earlier, then I would be essentially taking 7-10 hours a week of wasted time and making it hyper-productive.

How to Get Started

A key aspect to look at before getting your block scheduling system in place is to evaluate your goals and what is most important in your life. This will help you in the long run as you try to structure your days with less unproductive time and more time blocks that will help you achieve your long-term goals.

Beyond this, you need to figure out a system that works for you. In my opinion, Google Calendar has the simplest and easiest interface that I and many others use to implement block scheduling. To help give you an idea of what a proper block schedule looks like, I’m going to show you a few examples.

For you to get started with block scheduling, you need to categorize your life into different sections. These sections can come from your professional or personal life. It’s important to be able to break down your life into 4 or more sections so you can make your block schedule color-coded to your different life sections. This will also help you later when we get to time tracking.

Here are the 7 sections of my life along with their assigned color:

  1. School (green) – Anything school-related, whether it be studying, homework or a school event.
  2. Exercise (yellow) – This is for when I block out time to workout or recover.
  3. Work (red) – This section is for my business projects as well as my employed work schedule.
  4. Housekeeping (orange) – This section is used for day to day upkeep at home or within my personal life. Some examples include cleaning, running errands or improving my systems.
  5. Scheduling and Reflection (purple) – Scheduling the week and then reflecting on it is important to me and this section reflects that.
  6. Social / Default (light blue) – This is used for not only my social events but the color is also the default on my Google Calendar. I use this color for day to day things like when I wake up, go to bed and eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  7. Sleep (light green) – This section is tracked within my time tracking app (Toggl) and is not used on my Google Calendar. More on that later.

When I started organizing the various parts of my life into different sections and block scheduling them, it made my time management and task management so much easier. When you have these sections, it is easier to prioritize which tasks you need to do first. The numbers you see above (for 1-6) represent the order of importance I regard each of those sections of my life. They all have a major significance which is why they warrant a section, but I believe it outlines my priorities to a certain extent.

As I describe in my free ebook10 Steps to Saving Time and Doing Morewhen building a task management system you will find having these sections is vital for any virtual productivity app. Having the ability to tag tasks physically or virtually will let you know how important it is and whether you need to get it out of the way now or if you have time for it later.

Even though my social section involving my family and friends is towards the bottom, it does not mean I do not value that time. Instead, I understand you need to work first before you can spend “social” time when you have earned it for later in the day. Quality time with friends, family, and just by yourself is very important to me and I hope it is for you as well.

Now, to begin the fun part. I am going to show you exactly how you can make your block schedule using Google Calendar.

🗓️ Step 1: Open your Google Calendar and start with the basics

In this first step, it is important to think about your daily routines. When do you wake up? What time do you normally eat each meal? What’s your work schedule like? These are the questions you need to ask yourself so you can set the basic building blocks for your week.

Remember, it’s okay to have some variation in your days regarding when you wake up and go to bed. While keeping a consistent sleep schedule is important, I understand many people sleep in on the weekends, so make sure to account for that.

To see the details of each event on the Google Calendar example I use, make sure to zoom in. The quality of the photos will get much better and you will be able to see things more clearly. The formatting of Google Calendar and inserting the pictures makes it difficult to have the photos be large so I apologize for that inconvenience.

For my example, I’ll first show you my normal wakeup, mealtimes and when I go to sleep:

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As you can see, I wake up at 5 AM on the weekdays and have a later start on the weekends. The nice part about Google Calendar is you can have events repeat not only weekly but also on specific days of the week. For example, my Monday through Friday “Wake Up” time is set to repeat on weekdays weekly.

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You can also have the event’s repeat cycle end after a certain number of occurrences, on a specific date, or never. For this example, it is set to end after 5 occurrences.

💼 Step 2: Add your work and / or school schedule

Now that your days have a bit of a framework, you can begin to fit in the other essential parts. Your class schedule and employed work are what I would recommend you slot in here. I’m going to have my example centered around someone who works the average 9 AM – 5 PM work schedule. I will account for a 30-minute commute, as that tends to be common for a large portion of people.

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The setup for this block schedule now has the most important parts of the structure to it. The work schedule you have could vary from this, which is completely okay. Google Calendar is great to use and has amazing functionality, so do not worry at all about tweaking things here and there.

With the most important parts of the day put in place, you will be able to start tackling the more difficult portion of block scheduling. That being your additional “free time”. Obviously, many of us have other responsibilities so the rest of your week will not be exactly as free as shown above, but there are definitely some key decisions you can make so you make the most of the time you have.

📌 Step 3: Fill the rest in

Whether it is a new exercising regimen that you want to start or working on a side hustle, it is important to prioritize your goals next. I truly believe if you don’t make your goals the next priority after your work and school, they will never be achieved. The people who are important in your life will have time set aside for them, do not worry. Also, if they truly are the kind of people who love and care about you, then they will understand you are making sacrifices to achieve your dreams. Communicate openly and honestly about this and I know the right kind of people in your life will support you.

Now, I’m going to add some of the other sections of my life like exercise, productive time, and scheduling and reflection. For me, productive time is to block out time for general housekeeping items as well as building my business.

However, I always make time for loved ones throughout the week and keep weekend nights open if anything were to come up with my friends. The great part about block scheduling is you can move, add or decrease the time of a block if need be.

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For me, working out first thing in the morning is important to start my day off right. I have been running for most of my life and I intend to live an active lifestyle for as long as my body will let me. Saturdays are usually my day off, so I left that day without any exercise.

As an aside, I would like to point out how I shifted my weekday breakfast and morning travel times a little bit. I also added a shower time for after exercise because that must be accounted for as well.

The reason I explained this is because when you are building your block schedule, a similar situation may arise. You might initially forget about a day to day task or overlook a responsibility. The nice part about Google Calendar is you can easily visualize and adjust to your needs and time restraints.

I’d also like to point out how on weekdays I give myself less time for showering and breakfast because of the busier nature of workdays. In my opinion, it’s good to let yourself relax more on off days so you won’t feel like you are always in a rush.

In my days, I also added some time to account for preparing for bed. As I talk more in-depth about in my free ebook, a nightly routine to wind down is a great way to get better sleep. In my experience, 30 minutes is enough for me. Make sure you find out what works for you and adjust accordingly.

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🤔 Final Thoughts

The example of a block schedule I used will not be perfect as you go week by week. It is important to put time into your schedule and remember that as changes happen it’s okay to adjust.

My plans are very different from week to week because of the various factors I have going on in my life. For the most part, the schedule is similar and I can plan and get a lot more work done than if I did not use this method.

I have two different days of the week where I put in “Plan Week”. The reason for this is because things come up throughout the week and having a scheduled time at the beginning and middle of the week to adjust your productive time is extremely beneficial to keeping you on task. It is a good time to adjust things you never changed in your calendar or task management system. This way, you will have a more accurate representation of what your days were like if you need to look back on them for any reason.

“Productive time” hours will fly by if you do things the right way. Find a passion and set goals that matter to you and the results will be amazing. Try and start things for the wrong reasons and you may burn out quickly.

The important thing to remember is balance is everything. If you have some days where you feel overwhelmed, don’t procrastinate and wait till the last minute. Start by tackling small things one at a time and take intentional and calming breaks where needed.

Make the most of your days while also understanding nobody is perfect. Some days are going to be less productive than others and that is perfectly normal and okay.