Time Blocking: A Method for Boosting Productivity

Time blocking is a strategy that helps you save time and become more productive. Here, we tell you how to implement it, step by step.
Time Blocking: A Method for Boosting Productivity
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 01 March, 2024

Time blocking is a time management strategy designed so you plan out your day in limited blocks of time. Of course, it’s also possible to plan every day of the week or month. However, the base time unit is one day.

One of the distinctive elements of time blocking is that, unlike other strategies, such as time-boxing, it focuses on protecting your rest and free time. In fact, these spaces are clearly differentiated in your daily planning and play a really relevant role.

In addition, time-blocking aims to avoid three of the great daily evils: procrastination, multitasking, and lack of time to complete tasks. Like other strategies, it doesn’t work by itself, nor immediately. Indeed, it’s normal that, after initially implementing it, you have to make adjustments and adapt it.

I guard my time fiercely and without apology .”

-Gary Keller-

Woman working
The time-blocking technique focuses on protecting your rest and relaxation time.

Time blocking

Today, many people have to work extra hours to complete their tasks or are forced to leave pending tasks for another day due to a lack of time. When this happens, something is wrong. Either they’re overloaded or they’re not managing their time well. It’s usually the latter.

Time blocking is a simple and intuitive strategy that doesn’t require any software or computer programs. It’s based on common sense. Separating your time into blocks helps you better organize your activities and make time to do everything you need to do. It’s like your old school timetable. There was a block of time for math, then another for biology, etc. It also included blocks for recess, lunch, gymnastics, etc.

The logic behind time-blocking is the same. You focus on one task, or a group of tasks, for an hour at most. You also differentiate your time for rest and complete a full day in six or seven hours, maximum. With this strategy, you not only define what you have to do (like a checklist), but WHEN you have to do it.

Using time blocking

Some claim that using time blocking can increase productivity by 100 percent. However, if you want to take advantage of this method, you have to make sure you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed due to the fact that every minute of your day is accounted for and you feel like a hamster on a wheel.

To avoid this, firstly, remember to group tasks together that are similar, especially smaller ones. For instance, don’t plan a block of time ‘answering emails’, but ‘communications’ instead. This means that you can include phone calls, WhatsApp messages, etc as well as e-mails. It’ll help you better manage your tasks.

Secondly, don’t make micro blocks, but complete blocks. You may want to be really detailed and create a block or subblock for each task, but this almost never works. Therefore, going back to the previous example, leave it as ‘communications’ and not separated into  ’emails’, ‘calls’, ‘WhatsApp’, etc.

The third tip is to make sure that you plan everything. If it’s not on your calendar, it simply doesn’t exist. Put in those minor tasks you should’ve done months ago, but didn’t because you didn’t schedule them. Include everything.

Finally, you must take into account the times when you’re at your most productive for carrying out the most complex tasks. If it’s first thing in the day, schedule your most difficult tasks for then. If you feel like a zombie after lunch, plan your simplest activities for that time.

Men working
Time-boxing prevents procrastination.

Free time: the key

Several fans of time-blocking ensure that planning is done based on breaks and free time, and not the other way around. In other words, the first spaces you should schedule are those reserved for yourself, your family, and relaxation.

Firstly, set a deadline to finish your daily work and say goodbye to overtime. Secondly, leave blank blocks of varying durations. They’ll allow you to adjust the agenda if there are any interruptions or unforeseen events.

You should keep in mind that no time management tool is exact. For this reason, you’ll probably have to make certain alterations during the day. Don’t worry, that’s how it works. But, without a doubt, you’ll find that, as soon as you start to use time-blocking, you’ll become more precise in your planning. Give it a try.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Sánchez Pernia, P. (2011). Herramientas para gestionar proyectos y tareas.
  • Tselyaev, V. I. (2007). Quasiparticle time blocking approximation within the framework of generalized Green function formalism. Physical Review C, 75(2), 024306.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.