Time Blocking. Ever heard of it? Me either, until I watched Cal Newport discussing this very concept in this 99U presentation. Newport is actually talking about how following your passion may not be good advice. (You will have to watch and decide for yourself) The focus of his talk was not time blocking, but since he mentioned it as a terrific productivity tool I thought I would find out more.
Newport claims that by methodically and systematically planning his work day into blocks of time, each one assigned with specific tasks, increases his productivity level and focus. Each day he dedicates somewhere around twenty minutes planning for the following day. He refers to calendars, and looming deadlines, to prioritize tasks and obligations. Blocks titled Deep Work are set aside for more strenuous assignments, he also plans blocks for Reactionary work, where he can reply to calls and e-mails.
Some people may feel that this type of planning sounds too rigid or restrictive to become a habit. Newport feels that the more organized you are with your time and where it is being spent will actually allow you more freedom. He reminds us that you are still in charge of your time and its your choice how you spend it. Newport also points out that by time blocking you can become better aware of how much time tasks often take. Another benefit of time blocking is that it eliminates distractions. The chances are if you give yourself a certain amount of time to finish this specific task, you will focus on it, and it only.
Newport even compares it to a game of chess. We could look at this race of productivity against the clock as a game. Every time you accomplish your time blocked goal, You Win! I cannot help but point out that Newport claims (by using the time blocking method) that in a normal 40 hour work week he produces a 60 hour work week worth of productivity. I would call that a success. Its your move.