Time blocking is a simple strategy for planning out your entire day into specific “blocks”.
It is reported to reduce distractions and improve focus and productivity.
Improving time management has also been shown to help you boost your sporting performance.
We know that successful entrepreneurs and elite athletes share many of the same skills and attributes, and there are many things that each group could learn from the other. Bill Gates and Elon Musk, for instance, are two of the most successful tech entrepreneurs in the world. They have each been responsible for building multi-billion-dollar businesses and, in doing so, have used a specific time–management technique to ensure they get the most out of each and every day. The method they use is called “time blocking”.
Here, we take a look at how this system could help you better manage your time…
DURING TRAINING, I BALANCED FAMILY TIME, CHORES, SCHOOLWORK, OLYMPIC TRAINING, APPEARANCES AND OTHER OBLIGATIONS BY OUTLINING A VERY SPECIFIC SCHEDULE.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is a simple strategy for planning out your entire day into specific “blocks”, where you set aside an exact amount of time for each particular task. So rather than checking your phone every time you receive a message or a notification, you allocate a set period of time to do this during the day. The same goes for everything from eating and training to relaxing and spending time with your friends or family.
According to time-management expert Kevin Kruse, author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, it is a far more effective strategy than simply making a to-do list. As part of his research, Kruse interviewed more than 200 billionaires, Olympians, straight-A students, and entrepreneurs, and asked them about how they best managed their time.
US gymnast Shannon Miller – who won seven Olympic medals – was among those who advocated the “time-blocking” method. “During training, I balanced family time, chores, schoolwork, Olympic training, appearances, and other obligations by outlining a very specific schedule,” she told Kruse. “I was forced to prioritise… To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute.”
Why should I do it?
According to Georgetown University professor Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, allocating every minute of your day to specific jobs or activities allows you to make much more efficient use of your time.
“This follows because it allows you to schedule work for the time where it makes the most sense – batching together small things, tackling hard things when you have the long stretches to make progress, and so on,” he told FastCompany.com. “The other advantage is that it provides you more accurate feedback on how much free time you actually have most days and how long certain recurring tasks actually take.”
It ALLOWS YOU TO SCHEDULE WORK FOR THE TIME WHERE IT MAKES THE MOST SENSE – BATCHING TOGETHER SMALL THINGS, TACKLING HARD THINGS WHEN YOU HAVE THE LONG STRETCHES TO MAKE PROGRESS, AND SO ON.
PROF. CAL NEWPORT
TIME BLOCK THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN YOUR LIFE FIRST. YOU SHOULD FIRST GET CLEAR ON YOUR LIFE AND CAREER PRIORITIES, AND PRE-SCHEDULE SACRED TIME BLOCKS FOR THESE ITEMS.
How do you do it?
According to Kruse, there are several important concepts to successfully time blocking your daily schedule. “Time block the most important things in your life first,” he writes. “You should first get clear on your life and career priorities, and pre-schedule sacred time blocks for these items.”
Kruse also emphasises the importance of scheduling every aspect of your day. “Instead of checking emails every few minutes, schedule three times a day to process them,” he writes. “Instead of writing ‘Call back my sister’ on your to-do list, go ahead and put it on your calendar or, even better, establish a recurring time block each afternoon to ‘return phone calls’. That which is scheduled actually gets done.”
This is something that you could help your athletes do, or even do it for yourself. So as well as important tasks such as training, recovery and eating, it’s important to schedule small things, like showering and getting dressed, and personal time – be that walking your dog or spending time with your friends and family. It may seem overwhelming at first, but time blocking gives you the freedom to structure your entire day and refine your schedule so that you can maximise the time you have.
What are the benefits?
Time blocking has a number of clear benefits. Firstly, it helps you get more done each day so that you can schedule in some free time without feeling guilty. By getting everything done in your schedule, you also feel less anxious and stressed. According to Kruse, uncompleted tasks can weigh on our minds.
“This can lead to stress and insomnia,” he says. “However, when we have all of our tasks placed into a specific date, time, and duration, we sleep more soundly knowing everything that needs to get done is in its place.”
Time blocking will also minimise distractions for athletes, allowing them to focus solely on the task at hand; it will them greater control over what they’re doing and when. By allowing them to focus on their priorities, while also building in time for other activities, it will facilitate a better life balance.
WHEN WE HAVE ALL OF OUR TASKS PLACED INTO A SPECIFIC DATE, TIME, AND DURATION, WE SLEEP MORE SOUNDLY KNOWING EVERYTHING THAT NEEDS TO GET DONE IS IN ITS PLACE.
How could it help my sporting performance?
A research study among elite athletes in Australia found that an incredible 91 per cent of those who had received assistance with their time-management skills felt that it helped contribute to an improvement in their sporting performance.
With the potential benefits of time blocking including things such as better sleep, reduced stress, and a better life balance, it’s clear how effective time management could positively impact your performances in training and competition.
So, why not give it a go – for both yourself and your team?