How I Structure My Day With Time Blocking
Finding structure in your days while working from home can be difficult for a lot of new and even seasoned freelancers.
I don’t know about you but I am a very easily distracted person and often find myself not completing one tasks because my attention gets pulled away by social media alerts and random pop-ups every 15 minutes.
But since discovering time blocking, I’ve found my days to be much more productive. It helps me organize my time and focus on what needs to be done.
If you’re looking for more routine and productivity in your freelance days, here’s a look at how I structure my day with time blocking.
Write It Down
I’ll start each week by writing down every task and deliverable I want to complete by the end of the week. This includes everything from scheduling doctor’s appointments, client calls, writing assignments - all of it. Not just work-related things but every task that needs to be accomplished.
Rate From 1-3
Then I look at the list I’ve created and prioritize them by importance of completion from 1-to-3.
Priority 1 - Must be completed and is time sensitive/on deadline
Priority 2 - Ideally completed but deadline is flexible
Priority 3 - Can be completed at any time
Once I’ve done this, I’ll take a look at the 1-rated items on my list and then rate them again in order of priority with 1 being the most time sensitive and onward. I’ll do the same for the 2- and 3-rated items.
From here, I’ll estimate how much time is needed to complete the top priority tasks.
Determine Your Most Productive Hours
This will be different for everyone. Some people are most productive right when they wake up. Others are most productive in the evening. It’s up to you to determine when you are the most focused and produce the highest quality work.
For me, this is usually between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m.
I like to get the majority of my work done in the morning and then I’ll dedicate the afternoon to emails, social media, client calls and other administrative duties.
Your most productive hours should be used to complete your top priority tasks.
Block Your Day
Now that you have your most productive hours and priorities in place, look at your day and estimate how much time it will take you to complete your top priority tasks. From there, block hours of your day for other tasks and administrative duties.
7 - 8 a.m. | Breakfast, check emails, read news
8 a.m. - 12 p.m. | Priority 1 tasks
12:00 - 12:45 p.m. | Lunch, walk dogs
12:45 - 1:15 p.m. | Check emails, send updates
1:15 - 3:15 p.m. | Priority 2 tasks
3:15 - 3:30 p.m. | Break
3:30 - 6:00 p.m. | Priority 3 tasks, end-of-day emails
The important thing to remember is that time blocking is meant to help you develop structure in your day. It might take you longer or less time to complete certain tasks and that’s OK. By mapping out your day with time blocking, you can have a better idea of what you’re able to accomplish and how much time you’ll need to do so.
Turn Off Alerts
This may be difficult for some but I’ve found it’s especially necessary to be successful with time blocking: Turn off your alerts.
I’ll actually put my phone on “do not disturb” mode and open a separate window on my computer that’s free of any social media websites when working on Priority 1 tasks. The key is to eliminate distractions and focus.
It’s OK to miss a phone call or take a little longer to respond to a text message. Your clients will appreciate that you’re dedicated to your work and taking necessary measures to deliver top tier results.
Pro Tip: If you plan to dedicate a certain time to producing work everyday, let your clients know the hours you won’t be available for calls or texts proactively. Communication is key and will be appreciated.
If sound is an issue where you live, invest in a white noise machine or turn up coffitivity (a free website that loops coffee shop chatter to help home workers feel like their in a social setting).
Ready, Set, Focus!
Now that you have your tasks prioritized and your alerts turned off it’s ready, set, focus!
When I’m working on Priority 1 tasks I’ll even set a timer so that after four hours, I’m able to take a break and check back in with reality. I usually have missed calls and texts messaging that I’ll asses and determine if I can keep working or if I need to move on and spend time on replies.