To-do lists! They’re fun, aren’t they? The very act of making a to-do list turns you into a legitimate adult with real plans and goals. All the world leaders probably have to-do lists. I bet Kanye has one. And in my eyes, that makes me just as good.
There’s nothing like putting a line through something, safe in the knowledge that it’s no longer taking up any mental space. It’s great motivation. But at the same time, a long to-do list can be a major cause of worry. Is there any more terrifying sight than a list of tasks you have to do longer than Hagrid’s list of regrets?
Well, no more. There’s a more effective way of planning what you need to get done which entails only a mild amount of stress.
The art of time-blocking
Time-blocking offers you all the organisational help of a to-do list with much less of the angst that comes with questioning all your life choices. The average person is awake for sixteen hours a day on average. With a traditional to-do list, all those outstanding tasks stand imposing at the beginning of each day, challenging you to cram it all into a finite space of time.
The time-blocking method does things the other way round. The idea is this: instead of giving yourself a number of hours to do a task, give every hour a few designated tasks.
How to incorporate time-blocking into your to-do list
This is time-blocking in a nutshell:
- Get yourself (or make yourself) a planner with all your hours in the day on it.
- In each space of an hour, write down the task, or tasks, that you want to accomplish in the time.
- For example, from 9am-10am set yourself the task of answering all of your emails. From 10am-12pm, aim to bash out at least three job applications. From 12pm-1pm, eat lunch – to keep your energy up, y’know.
- You’ll immediately see where you have unrealistic expectations of yourself. If you’re not able to finish those job applications between 10am-12pm, give yourself a bit more time the following day by blocking out 10am-1pm instead.
There’s a lot of situations where we think we can get something down in a set amount of time. That’s the planning fallacy talking. But remember – everything takes longer than you think. The time-blocking method helps you visualise that.
It also keeps you focused on the task at hand, as you don’t start something and then leave it while you do something else. Instead, it forces you to think about what makes the most sense to do in each hour.
The bravest organisers among us will use it to organise when to complete certain tasks at the best times. Morning person? Schedule all your tough stuff for before lunch? Can’t think when you’re hungry? Do all your menial stuff between 12-1. It really is the way forward.
The first step out into the world of careers requires an organisational overhaul for most people. If you could be working more effectively, consider taking up time-blocking. It could make all the difference.