Juggling between school, work, blogging and a social life can get pretty intense. Not to mention trying to throw a healthy routine in the mix. Back in my rookie days, I would rely solely on my memory, maybe a couple calendared events here and there, when it came to my schedule. But by incorporating the use of time-blocking and google calendar, my productivity has been better than ever.
Google Calendar –
First let’s talk about your new best friend. Google calendar is connected directly to your Gmail, making it easy to access with any device, anywhere. The color scheme is extra cute, with several options of pastels colors to coordinate events. This makes it easy to stay organized and know exactly what you have planned for the day at a quick glance. Pick a color for work meetings, school events and/or assignment due dates, workouts and even drive time. My drive time is yellow, so if I have a phone call to make or something I can do while driving, I’ll know when I’m able to do that based on my calendar color. I try to literally plan my whole day between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. into my calendar to keep myself on task and prepared for the day.
Multitasking is great for maximizing productivity, but there are certain things you can and can’t do while multitasking. The phone call while driving example is a good time to do so, along with checking emails while walking on the treadmill or listening to a podcast while getting ready. But in order to avoid multitasking more demanding tasks, time-blocking is the way to go.
Time-blocking is a method that trains your brain to focus on one task for a given amount of time – and only that one task. It’s very common for people to look at a list of things needing to be done and start working on all of them throughout a large time period, bouncing from one task to another. This makes it hard for your brain to focus on what you’re trying to do because as soon as it’s acclimated, there’s another switch. By time-blocking you avoid the clutter and tell yourself the task in front of you is THE MOST important thing for X amount of time.
Every morning I’ll check my calendar, (usually on the treadmill or on the Stairmaster) and see what is on the agenda for the day. Then I open my Notes app in my phone and write down each individual task that needs to be done, most often through the 5-6 hour slot when I’m in the office, along with phone calls, workouts, laundry, even checking emails. Then I put in parenthesis how long each task will likely take. At work, I’ll put a timer on my phone with the allowance I’ve given a task and when the timer goes off, it’s time to move to the next item on the list. I can’t tell you how helpful this tool has been for me. Productivity maximization through the roof!
(Amazon has a cute little white block that will serve as your timer as well, but your phone timer will work just fine.)
The key idea is to stay focused on one thing at a time. By temporarily blocking out the entire day’s to do list and giving the task at hand your undivided attention, you’ll be able to accomplish much more in small bites than if you were to try and swallow the day whole.
If you have any productivity enhancing hacks, share below in the comments!