You’ve unintentionally wasted hours, days, even weeks of your life.
Don’t believe me? Tell me if this scenario rings a bell.
You’ve just got out of a meeting or class. The clock reads 3:02 PM. “I should probably get that project done,” you think to yourself. You pull up a chair and open your laptop, ready to crush that essay, grant proposal, data analysis, or whatever your industry calls on you to create.
Five minutes later, you receive an email notification. You feel compelled to respond to the message from your professor or supervisor. Upon hitting send, you realize you haven’t cleaned your inbox in a day or two, and skim through the entirety of your messages, responding to several along the way.
The latest email from Barstool Sports catches your eye, and after reading their latest cheeky take on the NFL, you wonder how many Facebook likes you’ve earned from sharing an article from The Onion earlier that day. You jump on Facebook for what you rationalize as a well-deserved break, and scroll your newsfeed ad infinitum, watching several videos and commenting on memes along the way, while responding to more emails on your phone.
Only a phone call breaks you out of your screen trance, and after a few minutes of chatting with your girlfriend, you return to Microsoft Word, ready to continue seizing the day.
Except you’ve made no progress on your project. And the clock now reads 3:38 PM.
You’ve lost a half hour of your day, and have nothing to show for it.
Is there a better way? Yes, and you don’t need to become a master of discipline to save time. If you want to get more done during the day, try simply committing to time-blocking.
Brendon Burchard, New York Times bestselling author of High Performance Habits, describes time blocking in a self-explanatory fashion: creating scheduled blocks of time where you do only one important activity.
Time-blocking increases productivity by eliminating procrastination. By setting a hard timeline of when you can work on a certain crucial task during the day, there is no possibility of being able to “get to it later.”
Consequently, you create an internal urgency to complete the task at hand in the time you’ve allotted yourself, or it simply won’t get done!
Time-blocking also improves mental health. Despite the myth of multitasking reinforced by the digital age, only 2.5 percent of people are wired to juggle more than one task at a time. Furthermore, a habit of multitasking correlates with depression and anxiety, especially when working with multiple forms of media at the same time, such as watching TV while typing up a paper.
Alternatively, focusing on one task at a time can keep the mind from wandering, creating a greater sense of certainty and fulfillment. In this sense, time-blocking can be seen as mindfulness for the workplace.
Imagine how different your day could look if you got serious about time-blocking. If you’re in the workplace, rather than find your direction by 10:45 AM and stumble your way through the day, what if you knew at 9 AM exactly what you will accomplish by 1 PM?
If you’re in school, instead of finding yourself slamming coffee during an all-nighter hours before the paper is due, what if you could say with confidence that the paper would be done a week ahead of schedule, because you’ve committed to exact times of when you’d work on the assignment?
Time-blocking can make the difference between a promotion and a layoff; between a 3.8 GPA and a 2.9 GPA, and between calm clarity and stressful uncertainty.
Life is too short to get distracted by Facebook, so get more important things done. Time-block the things that matter most.
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