On Monday, I wrote a post about my belief that we need not fear over committing and should learn to say YES rather than no. It sparked an interesting discussion with a friend of mine who asked: “How will I get it all done?”

My answer is simple in theory but definitely not easy in practice and that’s to play with blocks of time.

If you’ve never worked within a block schedule, it might look like it requires more discipline than you’re used to. It does. but that discipline buys you a lot more freedom and creativity as well. Here’s how to start.

Gather Your Projects

Putting a list together of all of the projects that need your attention is an important first step. It will allow you to see where you need to put your focus and when. I use Google Keep for this, but scratching it out on a legal pad or journal works too. List everything you’re working on with its due date and you’re ready to start.

Put the Big Rocks In First

I do not have space and you do not have the patience for me to retell the great Stephen Covey’s big rocks and aquarium story, you get it. the only way everything fits is if the big rocks go in first.

When we play with blocks of time, the first things we schedule are our big rocks. These are client meetings, meetings with our superiors and appointments that take top priority. Get these in first and everything else will fit in around it.

Schedule Appointments With Yourself

After we’ve listed all of our scheduled appointments with others, it’s time to schedule appointments with ourselves. I like to work in 30-minute blocks and these are sacred promises that I make to myself.

Schedule time to work on:

  • Projects from the master list
  • To process email
  • To make phone calls
  • To run errands
    • To read
    • To write
    • To think

Place these blocks directly on your calendar. Once they’re there, focus only on the things that you promised yourself that you would do.

Plan Weekly, Adjust Daily

Setting a plan a week ahead allows us to take a larger view of everything we need to accomplish. Spending Friday afternoon mapping out a game plan allows us to be in control over our schedule rather than our schedule controlling us.

But like any good game plan, it requires daily adjustment. Meetings change, emergencies happen and things will throw off the best schedule. This is why we adjust every morning. A word to the wise, however, make your adjustments first thing in the morning. Knowing what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it before you ever show up for work gives us a feeling of empowerment that will allow us to attack the day. 

This is the basic outline for a good block schedule; know your projects, schedule the big things first, schedule time with yourself to complete your projects and make your plan a week ahead. There will still be moments when we wonder what the hell we’re doing and we’re still going to have times when we don’t know how we’ll get it all done, but by playing with blocks of time, we have the control to say YES! and keep moving forward.

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