It’s Monday morning. You have a fresh to-do list and you’re ready to tackle it – that’s great! Finding a way to keep track of what needs to get done is a good start but many people stop their planning and organizing. There’s more to consider.
We’ve all been there – a mountain of work and a steep, never ending to-do list. It’s hard to enjoy your work when you always feel like you’re rushing to complete an assignment you forgot about while completing the one originally needed for that day. You may be using a planner or a task management system, but neither seems to assist in getting as much as you thought you would complete in a day or week.
Make your work week less stressful and exhausting. Here are a few tips to help wrangle those tasks, assignments, and deadlines.
How Much Time Do You Really Have?
It’s important to be realistic about how much time you have to complete your tasks. Let’s say you have 5 tasks. This doesn’t sound like many, but stop to think how long it takes to complete each one. If each requires 2 hours, you’ll need more than one work day to complete them all. On the flip side, you may be staring down a list of 16 tasks but they each take 30 minutes or less. This could easily fit into a single work day.
Sometimes our minds deceive us on what we can really accomplish. We look at our assignments and get overwhelmed. Get a handle on the amount of time needed to complete your work through something called time blocking.
To me, time blocking is similar to a game of Tetris. You can visually organize your tasks to maximize the most effective use of your time with just a little thinking ahead. If you let your tasks build up, game over. To do this, you need to utilize your calendar!
Start with your high priority and urgent assignments and block out time to work on it during your workday or in smaller blocks throughout your work week. Then, fill in less pressing tasks in the remaining open time slots. Be sure to give yourself ample time when blocking out tasks. This way if you get done earlier than estimated, you’ll have more time to work with which is a win!
Make sure you don’t overload your day, avoid burnout and block out time for breaks such as to eat take a quick walk or simply look away from your computer. It’s also a good idea to block out a little time for planning and scheduling your next day or week in order to make this method a habit.
Personally, I like to use Google Calendar to schedule because I can set reminders to ding when my next time-block is supposed to start. This helps me stay on my scheduled routine. I also attach any necessary assets to the event’s description so I don’t have to search for what I working on.
Why Time Blocking Works
Time Blocking helps you visualize your work day and be more productive knowing that you can focus on one task at a time. You’ll become more motivated to complete your assignments. You’ll know whether you can take on more assignments and if a deadline is realistic. And crossing off items on your list will give you a sense of accomplishment and further alleviate your stress!
Will unexpected events or tasks pop up that throw a wrench in your schedule? Of course! Life is unpredictable, but finding a process that works for you will help you from sinking too deep in your work. The more you use time blocking the more you will know what you are capable of accomplishing in a day. You will start to notice patterns like when you’ve hit your daily slump and are least productive. During that time, it would be best to schedule less complicated tasks.