Do you ever get that feeling at the end of the day that time just got away from you? That between answering emails, engaging on social media, and eating lunch (you didn’t forget lunch, did you?) you missed a crucial part of the day… the work?
This feeling is common among yarnpreneurs! Sometimes it just seems that there’s too much to do. Especially if we have a day job or more than one business, it’s very easy to let the day-to-day get away from us.
So today I’d like to share a productivity tip that I find extremely useful for managing my time while juggling two businesses and two jobs!
It’s called time blocking and the concept is very simple. Basically, you allot certain chunks of time to either certain activities or certain businesses.
For example, every day from 9am-11am is one of the time blocks I use to work on The Yarnpreneur Society. The tasks I might do during that time block may vary, but no matter what, that time is blocked out for that business.
While the concept of time blocking is simple, it can be difficult in practice. It requires planning to get the schedule right for you and it requires discipline to stick with it long enough for it to become a routine. I recommend trying it out in small increments at first, so it’s not a shock to your system and current routines.
I also recommend making sure you’re flexible in the beginning, at least until you get your schedule right. It can take some trial and error to find what schedule works for you, so don’t force it in the beginning… it has to fit into your life or it will never work!
Now that you know the basic idea behind time blocking, and have some tips for implementing it in your own schedule, I’ve got a special tip that will take it to the next level.
You see, sometimes it’s not enough to just block out chunks of time. Often, we still get distracted or pulled away for “more important” things. Maybe it’s an email that you noticed come through that “can’t wait”. Maybe it’s just a task that led us down the Facebook rabbit hole.
No matter what, it’s easy to still allow distractions in… even when we’re time blocking!
So here’s the secret… buffer blocks.
I learned about buffer blocks from the 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran. I instantly thought the idea was appealing.
Buffer blocks are time blocks that you setup every day. Typically, you’ll have one towards the beginning of your workday, and one towards the end. If you truly need it, you can stick one in the middle too, but ideally, you’ll just keep to the two.
Buffer blocks encompass all of the activities that normally derail our regular time blocks. Things like checking and answering emails, responding to Facebook comments, making calls, following up on our to-do list, organizing or filing papers, etc.
These types of small tasks can commonly pull us off track during the day. “I’ll just file this real quick” turns into an hour or two of minutiae… none of which is really helping you reach your goals!
Now, here’s the catch. When your buffer block is over, you have to quit your email program. You have to shut down any distractions and you have to move into your next time block. Buffer blocks are only useful if we use them as boundaries!
Tip: I recommend using the last 5-10 minutes of your buffer block to go over your to-do list and objectives for your next time block. It’ll make you much more productive when you do start working, if you know exactly what you need to work on.
I hope this has been helpful in explaining exactly what time blocks are an how you can implement them for your business! Add in those buffer blocks and you’ve got a recipe for success!