Different definitions of time blocking

There are several business podcasts that I check every week. I don’t listen to every single episode because the content doesn’t apply to what I’m doing or it’s not something I need or want right now.

However, the latest episode of Being Boss does NOT fall into that category.

Emily Thompson hosts this podcast and her topic last week was time blocking. 

She did a fabulous job describing how she uses it (you can listen to it or read the transcript here).

It’s not the way I describe it, but it is one approach.

If you’ve heard me talk about time blocking before, you know that I recommend NOT scheduling your tasks into your calendar.

When Emily time blocks, she does a version of scheduling tasks into her online calendar. Personally, it would drive me BATTY, but it works for her and might work for you.

I also came across a new Time-block Planner by Cal Newport. While I won’t be buying his planner (I prefer wire or disc-bound so I can keep them open to one page), I do LOVE how he lays it out. It’s similar to what Emily does, but on paper. 

And it’s very easy to do something similar in a regular notebook.​​

You can watch his quick video describing it here.

What I love about Cal’s method is no block is shorter than 30 minutes, even if there are tasks that are shorter than 30 minutes. He groups tasks together that can be completed in 30 minutes. 

You could make your blocks any size you’d like. I’d recommend sticking to 25 minutes or longer.

I also would recommend giving yourself an empty 30 minute or so time block at the end of the day to allow for the things you can’t anticipate (a potential client call, your sister calls, something else unexpected happens).

Neither of them talks about having time blocks pre-defined to make sure you’re spending time in different areas of your business. Some examples of pre-defined blocks are business development, marketing (a large chunk of your time), client time/work, and admin.

When I talk about time blocking, I share that you want to have different sections of your week reserved for each of these blocks. This way, you are always making time for admin (sending those invoices! or scheduling social media) and business development (goal setting, weekly reviews, learning new skills, or updating ​​​​your knowledge).

Do you time block? If so, how do you do it? If not, do you think you will after seeing these examples?

Comment below and let me know.

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #116 / When to make time when you're too busy

When to make time when you’re too busy

Have you ever seen an event or training that you wanted to go to but you were just too busy?

You tell yourself that it’d be a great thing if you could go, but being away for even a day is super hard.

You’re just too busy.

A year ago, I was invited to attend a group that meets every Tuesday morning.

It was right up my alley, something I really wanted to attend, but it meant losing a morning of work every week and it wasn’t business related.

I was just too busy to not be working every Tuesday morning.

A couple of weeks later, I was thinking about this group and wishing it met in the evenings so I could attend. I was really interested in it.

Then I realized, that one of the reasons I started my own business was so I could go to groups like this if I wanted to!

I’ve been attending this group for over a year now. It’s very personally fulfilling and I rarely miss it.

We all have personal values and priorities.

This weekly group lined up with one of my top personal values and when I realized that, it made it much easier to make attending this group a top personal priority.

And that made my too busy reason disappear.

I often find that when I say I’m too busy to do something, what I’m actually saying is that thing isn’t a higher priority than the other things I’m doing.

Or, I’m choosing NOT to make that a higher priority.

I’ve learned that anytime I hear myself saying I’m too busy to do something, it’s time to step back and look at my priorities.

It’s easy to use too busy as an excuse to stay in my comfort zone, not leave my house (home is my favorite place), or not learn something new (that will give me more things to do).

So, going back to seeing an event or training that you want to go to but are too busy for, is it something that you need to make a priority?

There are a number of reasons it might be a priority, here are three:

  • The topic is something that you want/need to learn more about
  • You already know about the topic, but know that hearing it again will bring a new level of understanding
  • It’s a great networking opportunity

Next time you find yourself saying I’m too busy, ask yourself, take a step back and check-in with yourself just to see if it’s something that’s a high enough priority to make room for.

If this is something that’s tripping you up in your business and you want some help with that, then reach out and let’s talk. The easiest way to do that is to leave a comment or fill out the Contact Me form here.


What are the unimportant things you want to spend less time on?

I’ve been thinking about the quote I used in last week’s post:

Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life. – Brian Andreas

What needs to change so there is enough time for the important things?

What immediately pops to mind is that you need to know what the important things are. I talked about this a bit in last week’s post.

The less obvious thing you need to know is what are the unimportant things? Knowing this can be just as difficult as knowing what the truly important things are.

For me, it’s recognizing that watching YouTube videos over breakfast are a huge time suck and I end up having a really long breakfast. It’s closing my email window and checking it once every couple of hours instead of once every 15 minutes (and doing the same for Facebook). It’s recognizing that there are some social media options that I don’t get and it’s okay for me to not understand them right now. It’s realizing that spending 15 minutes (or more) trying to get the formatting perfect for something that I’m going to be the only one looking at probably isn’t a good use of my time. It’s not picking up my phone to play a quick game, because I’ll spend at least five more minutes playing than I anticipated.

Lots of examples above of what some of my “time wasters” are. I get so much more done when I don’t do those things, or recognize early that I’m starting to do them. And at the end of the day, I just feel better – my attention hasn’t been splattered a lots of different places.

Now it’s your turn. What are the “unimportant” things you want to spend less time on so you can spend more time on your important things?

Share in the comments below.

Successful Projects and The Project Management Triangle

Project Management Triangle1Have you ever heard of the Project Management Triangle?

You can see it in the image on the right.

But what does it mean?

It means that every project (or goal) is a combination of time, cost and scope.

Broken down further:

  • Time – How long will this project take and when do you expect to complete it?
  • Cost – How much money do you have to complete the project? Or to invest in it?
  • Scope – What is everything that needs to be completed to mark this as a successful project?

For a successful project, you need to have each side of the triangle well defined. And if one edge of the triangle needs to be lengthened or shortened, at least one other side will be affected.

For example, if you need something competed faster you’ll need to decrease the scope or increase the cost. And if you need something done with less cost you’ll need to decrease the scope or increase the time. And if you want more done (increase the scope) you need to increase the time or the cost.

You might be wondering what the heck this has to do with you! You’re a business owner and entrepreneur, not a project manager!

Well, I’d argue you are a project manager. Every goal you have, every strategy you’re using to reach that goal and every to-do list you have is a project or part of a project that you’re managing.

While you don’t need to think about everything in terms of the triangle above, it does help to consider it.

Why? Because it gives your projects (goals, strategies and to-do list) a grounded frame of reference. And generally, one side of the triangle is fixed.

For example, let’s say you want to update your website. You need to start with the fixed side of the triangle. What do you already know about the project? The finish date? The amount you have to invest? The work you want done?

If you know that you want your website completely redone (the “fixed” side is scope), that’s going to be a larger investment in time and money. However, if you have a specific budget to work with (the “fixed” side is cost), that will help determine what will get done now (scope) and the amount of time it will take.

The other great thing about this is the triangle will point out when you don’t have a well-defined project.

Let’s pick a New Year’s favorite of eating healthy. For many people, that’s all there is to their goal (and we know how successful most of them are). If they went through and asked themselves about the cost, time and scope, then they’d have a defined plan.

This is also a good example of how the edges of the triangle move.

Let’s say you want to quickly learn how to eat healthy. Maybe you’re not even sure what the scope of that is, but you know someone who’s a health coach and specializes in this. If you invest your money and a little time in working with her you’ll know exactly what the scope is and have help creating a solid plan.

However, if you don’t have money to invest, you will invest a lot more of your time in determining the scope of the project and create a plan for yourself with more trial and error.

Have you used the Project Management Triangle before, maybe without realizing it? How might you use it in the future? Share in the comments below!

Finding Time for Your Big Projects

girl taking notesAre you someone who knows exactly what’s on your plate? The things that need to get done daily and weekly or even monthly get done. You keep up with current clients, bills are get paid and all those other things that you regularly do in your business get done.

And you’re frustrated. Why?

Because even though you’re staying on top of all the details, you don’t have time for your bigger goals, the bigger projects that will move you into the next phase of your business.

You don’t want to stop doing the things that currently pay the bills. But you also want to find time for those other projects.

So, what do you do?

How do you add time to your week so you have time for those projects?

You take a step back and review:

  1. Time leaks – How are you currently spending your time?
    Are you spending too much time checking email? Facebook? Twitter? YouTube? Where are you spending too much time online?

    When do you tend to spend too much time on those sites? Is it triggered by something? What can you do to spend less time on that site?
    What tasks take you a long time to complete?

    Why do those tasks take so long (be kind with yourself!)? Are they tasks that you don’t like doing or are not in your skill set?

  2. Systems
    What are the things you do every week or every month? Is there a system you can create around them?

    Maybe you have a series of steps that you take each new client through. Do you have those steps documented, emails drafted and attachments all in one spot so you can quickly (and warmly) welcome them?

    Where can you add systems in your business?

  3. Hire it out
    There are some tasks that you certainly can do, but aren’t in your skill set. These could be some of the tasks you identified in “Time Leaks.” You can do them, but if you paid someone else to do it they’d do it faster and maybe even better.
    Or these tasks might be in your skill set, but your clients don’t pay you for that work.
    For example, I’m very comfortable with technology, I used to be a programmer. When it was time to put together my website I could have spent time to learn the ins and outs of WordPress and done it myself. However, I decided my time was better spent elsewhere and paid someone else to do it for me. That saved me hours of work.
    What are those things in your business?

An alternative to all of these things is to spend more time at work. While occasionally this is a necessity, it’s probably not something you want to regularly be doing.

So, what will you do to that will free up time in your work week?
Share in the comments below!

© Photographer: Dreamstime Agency | Agency: Dreamstime.com