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Time Management Exercise: Calendar Blocking

So, what exactly is calendar blocking? Put simply, it's reserving blocks of time on your calendar for specific tasks. This exercise can help you save time, get well-organized and become a more productive version of your current self.

If this sounds like something you might benefit from, you're right! Set aside some time to follow the steps below and get the process started for yourself, you'll reap the benefits faster than you think.

Getting Started First, select your calendar tool. Using Microsoft Outlook is ideal, but a simple day planner or desk calendar can work, too! When choosing your calendar tool, keep in mind that a weekly view is best. You'll need ample room for writing in as many details about your day as possible!

Next, make a list of commitments you have in the coming weeks. A few things that may appear on your list are:

  • Work
  • Exercise
  • Study Time
  • Family Gatherings
  • Date Night
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Doctor Appointments
  • Birthdays, Holidays and Important Occasions
  • Carpool Reminders
  • Car Care Appointments (oil changes, break checks, etc.)
  • Cleaning & Laundry

Take the time to prioritize the commitments you have on your list. For example, work and study time would be high priorities, while extracurricular activities might fall on the lower end. This exercise will help in in the next step – building your calendar.

Building Your Calendar

Once you've brainstormed and prioritized your list, it's time to put it all on your calendar. Start with the most important commitments such as work, doctor appointments and study time. Then, make your way down the list of priorities.

Remember that it's important to know the difference between a flexible commitment and a mandatory commitment when you're glancing at your time management tool in the future. To help with this, Outlook users can assign a specific color to each prioritization, while day planner users might grab a box of highlighters in assorted colors.

Here's a look at what an effective blocked Outlook calendar might resemble.

Calendar Blocking

Making it Work

Anyone can color in areas of a daily calendar to make it look pretty and efficient, but making your calendar blocks effective is more difficult. Here's how you can make it work.

"I'm having trouble sticking to the allotted time in my blocks!"

If you have a watch, use it! Or, try using the stopwatch on your phone to ensure you move on to your next task on time. In order for calendar blocking to be effective, you must hold yourself to these time limits.

"I blocked this time and I don't remember why!"

Are you having trouble remembering what you're supposed to be doing during your "Work" block today? Next time, include as many details as possible for each block. If you have a list or summary of items to complete, you're more likely to stay on task.

"I gave myself too much time!"

If you find yourself completing tasks before the allotted time has expired, adjust your calendar! You may not realize how efficient you are at cleaning the bathroom or completing your reading assignment. The good news is now you have extra free time!