Time blocking

We have been talking about how switching from task to task results in sub-optimal performance due to "attention residue" from the previous task.
Cal Newport suggests that in order to counteract this, we use "Time Blocking" to work on projects and tasks through the day and week.
The time blocking method asks you to divide your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task, or group of tasks, and only those specific tasks.
Instead of keeping an open-ended to-do list of things that you will get to as you are able to, the time blocking method invites you to start each day with a concrete schedule that lays out what you will work on and when.

I have been using time blocking and it’s variations for a while now (imperfectly, I might add!) and I have to say that when I work in time blocks, I notice several things that Cal Newport said would happen:

  • I don’t have to constantly make choices about what to focus on.
  • I am much more proactive and in charge over my schedule. I choose when to engage in reactive work (answering emails) and when to focus on creating value.
  • I am able to go deep and get into flow much more often since I have given myself the time and space to do so and am not moving from task to task.
  • I am able to focus my most creative time (generally first thing in the morning) into doing things of highest value rather than reacting to other people’s schedules and demands.
  • I can bring all of my mental resources to work on one thing rather than spreading my attention thin across several tasks.
  • At the same time, I am building the mental muscles required which make it easier for me to stay focused in the future as well.
  • It really helps with the feeling of overwhelm when I have taken on too much and helps me remember that no matter how many things on my plate, I can work on this one at the moment and make progress.

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