Do you sometimes find it difficult to manage your time? It’s no wonder when colleagues, kids, and your significant other expect a lot from you. Your calendar can help!
Below, we’ll look at a concept called time blocking. You’ll learn how to start using it every day in specific ways with help from Google Calendar. Time blocking involves setting aside designated periods according to short- and long-term goals. Its benefits include better focus, a more prepared mental state, and reduced stress.
So why wait? Let’s get started!
Time to Ease Into Your Day (30 Minutes)
We live in a culture driven by immediacy. Sometimes, it seems fast results are more desirable than high-quality ones. If you feel compelled to dive into tasks immediately after coming to work, think again. Taking that approach could make you feel frazzled and result in an inability to do your best work. Use Google Calendar to block off time that enables you to ease into your duties.
Tackle the least-intensive tasks first and then gradually progress to the more demanding ones. Make one event in Google Calendar for each thing you have to get done. Use descriptive titles so you don’t get off track due to ambiguity.
Begin by clicking on the desired calendar segment and making an event title. Then, click the Edit Event button. The Create option seems correct, but the former gives you more customization options.
Be sure to mark yourself as busy if you don’t want to be bothered.
Finally, ensure your calendar entry is viewable by those who need to see it. Just click the Public radio button to the right of “Visibility” in the event settings.
It’s even possible to add events to your calendar directly from Gmail. The built-in technology detects when you’re reading an email that includes a time-specific obligation. It underlines words you can click on to see if there are conflicting events in Google Calendar. Click on those to get more information. There’s also a Create Event option in Gmail’s More menu. Click it to launch Google Calendar.
Giving yourself time to gradually reach peak performance should keep you from feeling overwhelmed. This time-blocking tip works especially well if you frequently get “locked up” thinking about the day’s schedule.
Time to React to Meetings and Communications (15-30 Minutes)
If you know you have a meeting tomorrow, plan out 15-30 minutes after the meeting that you can use to respond to what was discussed.
What actions do you need to take? Do you need to organize an event, make a process change, follow up with someone?
It’s better to get these tasks out of the way while they’re still fresh in your mind. Blocking out this time in advance not only makes you more prepared to listen for action items during a meeting or phone call, but it will also keep other tasks from getting in your way.
Use the previously mentioned availability and visibility settings. Then, others have no doubts you can’t provide immediate assistance during this reaction-driven time.
Also, be mindful of the Time Zone link near the top of the “Edit Event” settings.
If you communicate with people worldwide, it gives them more accurate perceptions of your day’s structure.
Unavailable “Deep Work” Time (2 Hours)
When deadlines loom and the associated pressure grows, sometimes you have no other option but buckling down. That means setting up a distraction-free office space — and then making sure nobody enters it.
There are physical indicators you can use to convey a lack of availability. For example, use a “Do Not Disturb” door hanger. Alternatively, mount a white board next to your entryway that says when you’ll be available again.
In terms of Google Calendar, show you’re deep in the workload and not available to others. Color-code your unavailability in a noticeable hue such as red.
Also, consider adding details to each “unavailable” block explaining why your office (and headspace) is off-limits. Provide details to demonstrate to others how seriously you take deep work time. Otherwise, people might think you don’t want company because you’re treating yourself to a long lunch break.
The Repeat check box, conversely, is great for getting into a habitual practice of deep productivity.
Click it and then make changes to the respective dropdown lists and check boxes. They let you edit duration and reoccurrence specifics.
Are you having trouble with this aspect of time blocking or even adding stuff to your calendar? Seek help from any of the numerous apps out there with precisely this problem in mind.
Time to Be Spontaneous (1 Hour)
You may feel well-equipped for planning, but unforeseen occurrences may still create challenges. Rely on Google Calendar to build in “cushion” time by using time blocking.
Maybe you’re anticipating an email in the morning from a person who always sets high expectations. If you suspect that individual will drop yet another responsibility onto your already-full plate, block off time to react accordingly.
Assume tasks like company meetings, important phone calls, and team huddles will last longer than expected.
Make the most of the time block by following a blueprint for handling unexpected events. Taking that approach should help you stay as focused as possible. The time you set aside in Google Calendar gives you flexibility for tackling unplanned circumstances strategically. Without that benefit, you might feel a problem is too vast to solve. Or there may be a realization you don’t know the first step to take in fixing things.
Use Google Calendar’s Notifications settings to help you stick to your plan. Find them directly under the “Event color” options on the Edit Event page. Change the dropdowns to indicate whether you want email notifications, popup boxes, or both.
You can also change your default notifications settings. Head to your Google Calendar main page and under My calendars expand the calendar menu by clicking the menu button with the arrowhead. Go to Calendar settings > Edit notifications.
Here you can change the existing default and click Add a notification to add additional defaults.
Remember: Depending on the situation, your best immediate response may be to do nothing. That’s particularly likely if it stirred up strong emotions. It’s perfectly appropriate to hold off on taking action until after you’ve evaluated the situation.
The End of the Workday (20-30 Minutes)
Productivity experts believe the close of a workday could determine the way you start the next one. In Google Calendar, reserve 20-minute blocks of time to do things that get you ready to thrive tomorrow.
Begin by reflecting on the day. What things went well and which have room for improvement? Don’t treat yourself too harshly about the things that didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. They’re in the past now. Plus, you hopefully smoothed some of them over with the technique directly above. If not, decide doing so will be among your priorities for the following morning.
The last 20 minutes of your time at work is an ideal opportunity to get yourself set for the day ahead. By using the first tip here, you can allow time to gear up for work. Instead of making yourself immediately feel swamped, you can transition into the workday at a reasonable pace.
Go back to the event’s Notifications section. Notice how there’s a great deal of flexibility in when notifications happen? You can ask Google to send them to you up to four weeks in advance if desired.
For our purposes, getting one an hour before your workday ends reminds you of this conclusion period. Set things up by using the drop-down list that refers to timing.
You can also use the Repeat feature to automatically block this end-of-the-day time out for you every weekday.
Wrap up your time at work by identifying the best ways to spend the next day. Pick the highest-priority tasks and then review your Google Calendar and make sure it looks sufficiently blocked out. If not, devote a few minutes to improving it.
What Other Time Slots Do You Set Aside?
Time blocking can be so helpful in terms of keeping your schedule realistic and productive. However, in addition to blocking out the time slots mentioned here, there are many other things you could use time blocking for, too!
What else will you block out on your Google Calendar this week? Tell us in the comments section below!