7 Proven Steps to Master Time Blocking
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- Align your tasks and goals
- Delegate effectively
- Plan for your capacity
- Focus on the important rather than urgent.
- Participants need to be committed to making changes and set aside time to implement the course.
Are you ready to improve your productivity by more than 50%? Double it? Tired of everyone else's priority taking priority over yours? This course is for you!
Time Blocking is one of the fundamentals of time management. If you want to get important things done you have to allocate time to them. It isn't rocket science.
It is important however to have a system to follow and fall back on when things go sideways.
Time blocking provides the proactive structure to spend your time where it adds the most value and it helps you block out distractions, get clear on priorities, create greater focus and even create greater balance.
This course offers you a proven system to follow step by step. The steps will take you from goal setting to the actual setting of the time blocks to align the goals and tasks. Each step broken out provides value as a stand-alone module in enhancing your time management and productivity practices.
By breaking these steps out you will get a better understanding of what drives your success, where you are currently spending your time and evaluate the gap. You will learn delegation techniques to help take some of the tasks off of your to-do list and add them to someone else's in a way that adds value to your time management and time blocking strategy.
Worksheets provide a basis for you to implement what you learned in each module. Clients have told me they boosted their productivity by over 50%. Get started and you too can have these results.
- Business Leaders
- Anyone who is ready and willing to change the way they plan their days and as a result become more productive
Time Blocking is a fundamental time management principle that helps you gain control of what you do with your time. This 7 Step proven process will provide the best results in the time blocking. This process will ensure you aren't just blocking but blocking the right things.
Time Blocking helps define what you do with your time, there are still aspects that control HOW you show up for that time, see the energy management course also available.
"Most people over estimate what they can do in a one year but grossly under estimate what they can do in ten years." Bill Gates
Value creation for yourself and others begins with you and your vision. When you see great potential in your future it raises your current potential.
Vision creates real ownership and positive accountability. Jim Collins is credited for coming up with the concept of “The Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG) in his book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”. BHAGs are meant to shift how we do business, the way we are perceived in the industry, and possibly even shift the industry itself.
Remember strategies are cross-contextual and the way you do business will affect the way you live your life. A BHAG is nearly impossible to achieve without consistently working outside of your comfort zone and displaying complete passion, commitment, drive, and intensity. BHAGs are bigger, bolder, and more powerful than regular long and short-term goals. They typically take a 10- to 30-year commitment, but they are exciting, tangible and something everyone wants. It is this great vision that keeps us innovating and creating value for others and ourselves. This is the core energy source for personal motivation, drive, ambition and what fuels your ability to find solutions when challenges arise.
You need to get your team on board with it. They need to want it; if they don’t, they won’t work for it. Of course, having a BHAG isn't enough. You need to take that vision and break it down into goals and plan how to realize them.
Some people and companies have big visions but are so big and there is a gap in understanding the connection of the strategies of how to make that happen.
You may have heard of SMART goals. These are rules on how to define the goal based on the elements that help us to create clarity for communication and measurement.
Although SMART goals are widely understood as a part of goal setting, it is surprising how many people, fail to get specific with their own goals. This self-sabotage may be due to an unconscious fear of failure.
The logic behind SMART goals is that the more specific your goal is, the easier it will be to create an action plan to achieve and communicate it. It may be hard for your team to create and follow a plan for a goal that is abstract, such as “The goal is to expand our business next year”. Alternatively, “The goal is to land 3 ‘New Clients with projects over $50K’ and to increase referral sales by 30%” is much more specific and easier for the team to understand and make the connection to the bigger picture which might be to be number #1 in the industry.
Review your goals and assure they are SMART:
Goal setting IS the principle of starting with the end in mind. Once those goals are clearly defined, they have to be broken down into small pieces or deliverables. These are called Milestones. Milestones are broken down further into steps. It is this specific breakdown that keeps you and those supporting you from getting caught up in overwhelm. Just as J.P. Morgan Said "No problem can be solved until it is reduced to some simple form".
By working backwards from the time-driven goal to the steps that must be taken to achieve it, you are able to validate its achievability, the available resources, and /or plan for other alternatives. That is why SMART goals are an important part of time blocking. Time blocking then schedules the time necessary for the individual tasks to reach those goals.
Good effective goal setting isn’t just about identifying goals, it is also about understanding the value the goals will deliver; the HEART and SOUL of the goal. The HEART and SOUL aligns and connects your vision to your goals and gives you the resourcefulness to find solutions for problems and to demonstrate flexibility in overcoming obstacles.
We have all had goals that we made but were not really committed to or were not willing to do what it took to reach them.
Connecting to what AND why creates the ownership and accountability that connect you and your team to the goals at another level. Here are the elements of the HEART and SOUL of your goals:
To become even more accountable, ask yourself the following questions: What will you need and/or are you willing to sacrifice to meet your goals? What and how will you be rewarded when you meet your goals and what do those rewards mean to you?
Accountability is what will keep you (and your team) going through those sacrifices, and to ensure that you take the time for rewards. The more connected you (and your team) are to your goals and why you want to achieve them, the greater the level of discipline you will be able to create and establish an environment to support your success.
For example, one of my clients noticed that her employees would meet weekly for a review of the numbers and week after week the goals were not met. It appeared to her that the people worked hard. They were loyal employees, but at the same time it appeared they didn't care about not reaching the goals. At the meetings they said nothing. The owner was frustrated to say the least.
I asked her a series of questions about how the goals were set and what process she used to incorporate the team in the formation and achievement of these goals. If people have their goals dictated to them even if they are SMART goals, there is no HEART and SOUL for them. They aren't connected to the goals nor the company or the company's mission. People support what they create.
They had all memorized and could repeat the mission and values of the company, but that didn’t mean anything to them especially because they didn't feel like the organization lived these values.
The strongest form of ownership comes from a deep sense of belonging. Google proved this in an extensive study of the key elements to highly productive teams. It wasn't the skills, brains or diversity - it was collaboration, connection and trust that come from a sense of belonging that produced highly productive teams. Connecting with HEART and SOUL to the goals is an essential part of that process. Skipping this step may save time but will sabotage your success.
We changed my client's meetings to workshops and encouraged them all to discussed key business drivers like quality, customer loyalty and referrals. This new facilitation allowed them to bring their ideas, implement their ideas and report back to the group. Their engagement went through the roof, their loyalty as team increased and the results improved.
Motivation will increase when you and your team connect to the purpose and contribution.
Planning and making time to connect to your purpose is often one of those areas that falls by the wayside while we do things we decide are more important. People see this important work as too time consuming and look for short cuts, but taking short cuts always comes back to bite you in the butt. The time you spend up front in creating a connection for your team will go a long way in securing their accountability and engagement, making all the difference in your company's overall productivity, your family's overall fulfillment, and your project's overall success.
Look at your time blocking from a weekly or month perspective as this will create a more strategic perspective. Many programs talk about time blocking on a daily basis. If you stay at this level you are still in more of a reactionary, or tactical mindset that when you step away and look at the bigger picture.
Often the areas that drive your business are important but not urgent. That is why they often don't get done and much of the purpose around time blocking and scheduling. We aren't just looking at the most important items for the day but the drivers of your business or goals.
A woman who runs a magazine came to me because she was stressed out and overwhelmed. Her business was not making money. The stress, as well as the volume of the work, was affecting her relationship with her husband and her health. She had hit a wall and recognized she had better get help because she couldn't live this way anymore. Have you ever felt that way?
Together we identified what the major drivers of her business were and broke them down further.
We looked at the number of customers she sold advertising to. This number was not growing but she was acquiring new customers. She was losing more than% of her customer base on a yearly basis. She was working like a dog to cover that gap by obtaining new advertising clients. During the Drivers process, we found out that she was not spending any time on customer loyalty. The time spent on customer loyalty programs is a direct factor affecting the number of customers and amount spent per customer. By adding this category to her time allocations (the next step in this process) and implementing some new effective and efficient strategies around customer loyalty, she was able to reduce the churn rate and now enjoys less than 10% loss in her customer base annually. This action alone put her business back in the black.
You may think your business is unique and that what works for other businesses won't work for you. It is my experience that companies all over the world have the same business drivers, even yours if you want your company to be profitable.
The profit drivers are:
- Number of customers,
- Frequency of purchase,
- Amount spent per transaction.
Some scalability drivers are:
- Defined Processes
- Employee development
- customer service.
Each of these drivers has factors that influence them. We want to focus our time on these drivers and the factors that influence them and the time required to make them work for you.
If you are not using this course for your business. Identify the drivers of your success in reaching your goals.
Before you can schedule, you need to know what the capacity is you are working with, and align that with your strategy and goals at a high level. Leveraging capacity for greater productivity means starting with the end in mind and working backwards.
In this step of the process, we start to align the required hours for each category with your actual available resources.
Let's say you are a small business owner with three lines of business. Look at each line of business and determine what the potential is in each one and develop your goals as defined in the first step of the P10 Time Blocking process. Decide what percentage of your capacity do you want to allocate to the categories and drivers of running that business (sales, marketing and delivery)?
Now take your total time capacity and work your way backwards. Do you have enough capacity to perform the necessary operations? If each of those lines will require 45% of your capacity, you have a problem because you cannot operate at 135% capacity. You are over- stretching and it is unlikely any of them will be successful or productive.
If this is the case, you need to make some cuts or get some additional support. On the same note, if you are ramping up your business, you must anticipate and be aware of what excess capacity you might need to ensure you can produce and/or deliver whatever it is you are offering. You can really harm your reputation by poor capacity planning.
Start planning with 80% capacity and work backwards (If you start with 100%, you are at risk of overloading). As you allocate resources to each of your lines of business, subtract that percentage from the whole. You may find that you don’t need as much as you thought for each line, or you may find that you need to table some projects for now, until you have the capacity to attack them successfully.
The process of drafting your capacity plan visually is critical. It is similar writing out the steps of a process. The only way you can optimize your plan is to lay it out first and see what it looks like. When it is out in front of you, you will have a better perspective of what is missing and/or where you may have over or under-estimated. This exercise sets you up for the next steps of re-allocating some of the tasks to others and re-thinking your approach. Consider if some of those tasks ought to be delegated.
When you put a value on your time, you begin to evaluate your decisions from a different perspective. So let's put a dollar value to your time.
For consultants who get paid on an hourly rate or monthly stipend, they can easily see the value of their time because one less hour working is directly proportional to the 1-hour salary opportunity cost. Just because you don’t charge by the hour doesn’t mean you can’t value your time as though you did.
Here is the interesting thing: by delegating you actually raise the value of your time. For consultants who get paid on an hourly rate or monthly stipend, they can easily see the value of their time because one less hour working is directly proportional to the 1-hour salary opportunity cost.
Just because you don’t charge by the hour doesn’t mean you can’t value your time as though you did. Here is the interesting thing: by delegating you actually raise the value of your time. Answer these questions:
- What is the sales effected / resulting from your work?
- What is your annual salary?
- How many hours per week do you work (on average)?
Your annual salary divided by the number of hours you work will give you your hourly compensation, but it leaves out the opportunity cost. You really need to take the amount of income you bring to the company or the potential income you could bring in to develop the value of your time and how to determine what activities to outsource.
For example: My client, Joe, brought in $10 million to his company. his salary lets say is $200K. If he takes his salary he would calculate an hourly rate of $92 after vacation is taken out. The fact is his hourly value is much higher, $4,630 and hour.
For Joe, This process opened his eyes to his potential and the cost of his resistance to delegate and other wasted time. I know this is an extreme case and your difference may not be as high but the difference still opens your eyes to see things from a new perspective.
If you are calculating this for personal time, consider what your time is worth based on the opportunity cost of what you would rather be doing. What is the value of the 3 hours a week you could get to spend with your kids versus the value of the task, such as cleaning the house?
Consider the value of the task to you in performing it such as clearing your mind, giving you time to think or creating an experience with your family by all doing it together. The trade-offs on your personal time are an important consideration. Monetizing your time and creating a concrete value helps to create awareness and give us a basis for comparison to create priorities.
Do your calculation and write it down.
Now you know what your hour is worth, what are you going to do with that knowledge? You could keep doing what you’ve been doing, and you’ll get the same results you’ve been getting. OR you could start using your time effectively, by delegating the tasks that don’t need your direct attention!
One common trait of the mega-successful is that they delegate. That is the millionaire mindset. They know where their strengths are and they leverage their strengths and the strengths of others. They know how to ask great questions and how to allow someone else to have the answers. Delegation is freedom. Essentially, these millionanires learned to focus on their goals and objectives and not solely on the activities underlying their goals.
The number one way to avoid stress and overload is to enlist the support of others.
You CAN buy time with delegation.
Doing everything yourself is impossible and improbable so at the end of the day, there is no one to blame, except you.
I know it may make you feel significant to think no one else can do some of the work you do at the quality you do it, but with some instruction and shadowing and understanding of your thought processes, someone else can learn how to do it. In fact, in many cases I have seen the new person come in and do it better.
Usually the tasks that can be delegated are not the most important to the business. When you end up trying to do it all yourself, you end up making a number of mistakes and diverting your attention from the most important areas of your business or life.
By creating checklists and defining a process not only get the job done well and allow you to focus on the most important tasks and activities. Besides, what if you were no longer able to do the job because of an illness or some other reason? Would someone else take it over if you couldn't do it or would the business just fold? You had better start planning now so that others can do your job. The best leaders are happy to replace themselves. Honor the value of your time and recognize that certain tasks are better off being done by someone else.
"I don’t have anyone to assign it to"
"I don't have the money to pay someone"
Do these phrases sound familiar? I know exactly how you feel, I have the same problem from time to time. I get stuck in that story. Every-time it comes back to bite me in the ass! Recently I thought I could handle a printing project, so instead of outsourcing the whole thing, I designed and organized it. I didn’t follow the full sequencing in the right order so I ended up delaying the project and it cost me a lot more money in rush fees and we almost missed the deadline. It also created a lot of stress and time that I needed to spend doing other things, all because I didn’t want to spend the money to outsource it. Heard that before? It is worth spending the money to get it right the first time, in the right sequence. You know this to be true, I am just reminding you.
What story are you stuck in?
There is a difference between Delegation and dumping. Use these rules to hold yourself accountable to a successful delegation process.
Now that you know the value of your time, the other thing holding you back from delegating is your belief in your ability to do it better or faster than someone else. You will still have control, because you are the owner of the task and process at the end of the day. You will define the standards and the outcome and you get the freedom of letting someone else do it for you.
· Determine your true natural strengths
· Do or Delegate?
· Don't Dump, Delegate.
· Assign Responsibility and Authority.
· Provide Constructive Feedback.
Creating some rules will help your staff keep you from micromanaging and give you control over the process. Sound good?
· Why the project matters
· Results are clearly defined
· Milestones are communicated
· Tasks defined
· Training and support materials
· Agreed criteria to review result
· Constructive language and feedback
Scheduling starts from the strategic focus we have developed in this process. Daily scheduling with a focus on the big picture is much more impactful and effective than without it. As you implement this new scheduling process, maintain the big picture and maintain perspective and connection to the goals that your activities are intended to be supporting. All of the modules leading to the implementation are a part of the performance optimization scheduling.
Here are some scheduling Implementation tips:
- Plan Schedule for flexibility - schedule less than 80% of the day
- Understand real deadlines - ask better questions and break it down
- Do most important items first - avoid procrastination
- Use time blocks and a timer - short bursts of focus
- Set goals for each time block - greater focus for each block
- Create wrap up time - prepare next steps
- Schedule administration time - limits interruptions throughout the day (email, calls, etc.)
- Schedule “down time” and transition time - increase energy renewal
- Schedule time to organize - keep clutter at bay
- Incorporate transition time
I know you know many of these principles, but are you consistently applying them? Getting clear, and getting the most important things planned and scheduled puts you back in control of your life, your goals, and your business. Just like any sport, you may know how to play but it is only through consistent practice that you will improve your skill and use of the resources available to you.
Practice Makes Permanent!
Like anything in life, your success depends on the attitude and the energy you bring. Make sure you start your time block with high energy to make it more productive. Here are some tips to get your block started in the best way:
- Check your environment for success
- Set an intention before you start
- Review your objectives of the block
- Sit up straight at the edge of your chair - work ready
- Anticipate and track distractions for current or future elimination
- Leave the last 5 minutes for wrap up and record the next step
All of these practices will help you bring your best energy before you start each block.
"Do what you say and say what you do" Dr Seus Honor the blocks you make - otherwise don't schedule a block. This means that if you have to change something you have to MOVE the block- not delete it. Things will change and you need to remain flexible. If you have anything that constantly gets ignored (like a recurring activity), remove it from your calendar. It is taking up your positive energy and working against you. Every time you look at it and ignore it, you may feel badly because it represents breaking an agreement you made with yourself or others. We are simple creatures, driven by pain and pleasure. In the short run, we will race 100 times faster away from pain than towards pleasure. Here are some ways to create greater accountability by using this understanding of the motivating powers of pain and pleasure.
- Ask a 3rd party to hold you accountable and meet regularly to review your progress - when we have to check in with someone else, we pay more attention.
- Compete with someone - This win-win situation helps make it fun and creates energy around a short-term goal. If you are competitive by nature, this works like a charm.
- Set a deadline - A deadline gives you a finish line to cross and gives specificity to the goal period. It also enables you to begin with the end in mind, which is a powerful force in creating success.
- Put up some money - Money talks. I find that having people make a sizable donation to a group they are not fond of-such as an opposing political party puts some energy into achieving the goal in order to stay away from the pain of making that donation.
- Visualize yourself already having completed it - This is an athletes trick. Many Oolympians vividly imagine themselves flawlessly performing their sport. The see, feel, hear and touch the collection of their gold metal on the podium.
Most people misdefine progress. They think it is simply the act of achievement and reaching a goal. However, progress is really about gaining traction. Traction is not only realized through direct achievement but also through learning and understanding. Traction gives you the ability to push forward. If the tires on your car don’t have traction the car won’t move forward. You might even slide backwards! You ensure that your car will have traction by maintaining the tires. If a tire is worn, or not working correctly you would repair or replace it. If you don't have traction and you want to move forward, then you know that you need to diagnose the issue and correct it. Just knowing that there is a problem and taking steps to correct it is it’s own kind of progress!
Progress is Perfection:
I once worked with a woman who wanted to write a book and blocked three hours a week to work on it before her kids got up. Her first statement at our next meeting was that she had failed. I
waited until she was done venting and I said, "I understand there are many things that come up to divert your attention. I also understand it isn't easy to follow such a structured plan when you aren't used to it and have built in distractions, kids." I began to ask a few questions.
"How many hours did you write?" I asked.
"One" she said with frustration.
Here is the kicker. I asked her how many hours she had written the week before. When no blocks were assigned.
She said "none" with a shrug
"Well, then this week was better than the last, and that sounds like progress to me." I replied.
There it was, she was so focused on what she didn't do, that she disregarded the progress she had make. It is how human cognitive processing works. According to the (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) NLP communication model, when processing we delete, distort and generalize. By pointing this out, she was now freed up to recognize her progress and feel good about only writing once.
Make sure you recognize your progress in all of its forms!
There are three types of distractions you should consider: physical, environmental, and mental.
You will want to identify where and when these distractions show up and plan to remove or reduce them. I promise you 95% of these distractions are things you have control over, but you have been allowing yourself to be distracted. Yes, you allow it.
Do the exercise provided to evaluate your distractions. In the next module, Review and Adapt write a plan to prepare and control your environment, to handle any physical challenges and to use the 10 Productivity Drivers to manage your mental distraction. A strategy to manage mental distractions is the most important. because it is where the majority of your distractions really come from. A simple question can be used to re-focus yourself in an instant.
As Jim Rohn said, "It is easy to do and easy not to do."
When you measure your progress more formally, you can create an accountability system. How will you measure you success?
If you have purchased the P10 Assessment as part of your package, you can use the 10 Core Drivers of productivity to help you stay on track. By checking in with these 10 core drivers you can get and stay in the “Productivity Zone”. They will also help you transform stress and shift unproductive behaviors quickly. A habit of consistent review makes us pay attention to those core drivers and in return, recognize patterns.
Rate yourself each week in each of these drivers when evaluating your time blocking. Recognize your progress and re-direct your focus regularly back to the influencing factors, and the fundamentals. Professional sports teams are constantly practicing and reinforcing the fundamentals because all success and flexibility stems from a mastery of the basic fundamentals. The initial rating gives you a baseline to work from.
Remember this is just a baseline so honesty is important to give yourself a realistic picture of where you are starting. Take a moment to challenge your answer, asking yourself if it is that true and what evidence you have to support it.
How you measure the gap matters: From this baseline you can see where you are making progress. This is a very different focus than focusing on the full gap. By focusing on the full gap you may become overwhelmed and feel defeated by the magnitude of the jump. Consider your measurement and the gap you are really looking to close to get to the next milestone.
With this focus you can have clarity in the specific steps you need to take to get there. If you don’t find clarity in the next step, scale the step down to what you can clearly identify.
You can take this to a deeper level by incorporating third-party coaching if you want to speed up your results. I use a personal trainer for my fitness because I need the external structure and accountability to keep me committed to my goals. That is what it takes for me. Be aware of what it takes for you.