For decades, corporate America has convinced you that you needed to pride yourself on your ability to multitask. In the 80’s and 90’s it was prized as being the most important resume builder you could add because employers wanted someone who you juggle 12 balls everyday and flawlessly keep them there regardless of whether they needed to eat, sleep, or pee. However, multitasking has been proven to cause several detrimental side effects, including decreasing IQ, diminishing emotional intelligence and decreasing brain density over time. Those same studies also proved those who multitask a lot get less done every day than those who focus on one task at a time.
WHAT!? I know. Just one more thing you’ve been lied to about over the years. I also know that your goal is not to be less smart, less emotionally intelligent or get less done every day so now that you know, you can make a change. Shifting your thinking from one of multi tasking to one of blocking time is going to help you guard against distraction and it will allow you to multiply your productivity by forcing you to make scarcity level decisions and learn how to work more efficiently within the time given.
All of us are horrible at two things. Knowing how long a project will take and/ or allocating too much time for that project. A project or task will take the amount of time to complete that you give it to complete. It’s called Parkinson’s Law. “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” and if you were to stop and think about it, you’ll find that it’s absolutely true. If you give 4 hours of time to a project that should only take you 2 hours, you won’t get it done in two, it’ll take you the entire bit of that 4 hours. It’s not that it truly took you that long, it’s because you were able to allow yourself ways to get distracted during that time in order for that task to take 4 hours. On the flip side of that we often get over zealous and assume a project can be completed in less time than it actually should take.
Like the time my husband thought we could paint the exterior of a 2700 square foot house over Memorial Day Weekend… It took us a month to get done!
And at this point I can imagine that blocking your time in order to better maintain focus, 10X your productivity, get home to your family sooner each day and no longer have to hop back into your VPN after dinner is sounding better and better by the second, right?
What is Time Blocking?
Time blocking is the act of making an appointment with yourself to get your most important work done so that you can prioritize progress on individual tasks. Doing this will help you create healthy boundaries, break the bonds you have with your email and creates healthy levels of productivity in all tasks by shifting you from a state of reactivity to a state of proactivity.
Learning to block your time appropriately brings time management mastery to your life. Some of the most common signs of work stress are chronic fatigue, constant irritability, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and anxiety. Having a time management plan in place from the outset allows you to take control of your schedule instead of it taking control of you (proactive as opposed to reactive) and helps mitigate if not completely get rid of those chronic stresses.
Time Blocking For Reducing Stress
When you’re stressed your habits tend to start to get away from you. I see this happening with my clients all the time. Lack of time mastery inside of increased work or life stress increases the likelihood that good habits aren’t being prioritized. This means you’re less likely to prioritize getting your sleep in each night because you might be working long hours. Your water intake drops off in lieu of increased coffee consumption because you’re tired from not sleeping enough the night before. And because you aren’t sleeping enough, you’re hitting the snooze button multiple times each morning then running out the door late and not eating a healthy breakfast before you get to work. See how the snowball happens?
How Time Blocking Helps Guard Your Habits to Help You Lose Weight
This snowball literally becomes most people’s fall off the wagon moment because with less sleep, more caffeine and more processed food comes more stress, more inflammation, and more weight. Oftentimes cancelling out all the success that you’d seen. The way to be successful long term in your health is to make it a priority no matter what. Guard your time inside of your schedule, prioritize healthy habits and continue putting effort into those habits day to day. Then, regardless of a deadline getting shifted, a kid getting sick or it being a holiday or social gathering you’re always crushing life. So how does all this lead to weight loss? That’s actually the easy part. When you’ve scheduled in your bed time and wake up time and they are consistent you’re likely getting enough sleep to help your body recover fully which helps lower inflammation and promotes fat loss. When you’re sleeping well you wake up energized and don’t need coffee therefore lowering the stress your body is experiencing and making you less likely to crave sugar meaning you’ll make better food choices. When you’re drinking less coffee you’re probably also drinking more water which means your digestion, energy, and nutrient absorption will also be better. Having more energy means you’re less likely to skip the gym and drinking more water and eating more nutrients promotes overall health, lowered inflammation, and more weight lost. It’s a win- win all around.
Here are my tips for getting started!
Book End Your Days
The first things that go on your schedule are your bedtimes and wake up times. Those should be consistent throughout the week and from week to week. Your body really does thrive on routine.
Deep Work First
Deep work is the work you need 100% concentration, quiet and flow to get done. Deep work blocks should also get put inside your “magic time.” That one time of day where you’ve got lazer like focus and your creativity is usually flowing. This is also the work that is the most important for moving you forward and that needs to happen first.
Shallow Work Next
Your shallow work is the incidental stuff that can be handled amidst the chaos of other things happening. Not multitasking kind of chaos, but office or home hustle and bustle kind of chaos around.
Don’t Forget Meals, In Transit Times And Groceries
These things are actually more important than your deep work tasks, but I’d also recommend trying to sit down and eat a meal in the middle of your most creative time of day when you could be getting all the things done. Transit times matter so that you stay on time getting everywhere you need to get and are limiting the stress you experience as a result of chronically being short on time. I mention grocery shopping here because you can’t eat well if you don’t shop. Regardless of the fact that you can get a salad at McDonald’s, it’s not going to do the same thing for you as a salad made at home from fresh vegetables… and we both know you’re not choosing the drive through salad anyway so there’s that 😉
Regardless, I want you to make sure that you fully embrace fueling yourself properly as being paramount to your ability to be productive in any given day.
So your next step now is to take these suggestions to your calendar and put them into action. Then test them for a period of 7 days to 2 weeks. Over that time you’ll find things that need to be tweaked and you’ll be able to hone your time blocks to optimize your time spent, lower your stress and maximize your productivity.