I am yet to come across someone who doesn't wish for more hours in a day. In many ways, time is a great equalizer. At least something is uniform universally. Yet, some people always seem to manage their tasks brilliantly and while they too wish for more hours, they aren’t constrained by it.
So what is it that they are to do? Well, I can’t say for sure, but I can tell you what works.
Blocking your calendar!
To-do lists are an easy way to cheat. You try to make a comprehensive list; sometimes you put down too much or too little or take the easy ones off first and feel happy with the number of ticks. Half of us don’t even prioritize the tasks on our to-do list. Do you use different colours to mark out what’s urgent and what can wait?
Well, let’s keep that list aside for now and use a much more powerful tool. Our calendars. Put everything on it – reading, writing, walking your dog, absolutely everything. Block it with 30-minute chunks of what you need to get done in a day. Keep 3-4 hours open during your work hours for others to block in case the need arises. If a task needs more than 30 minutes, then go ahead and put more time aside.
Here’s why it works:
- Ensures you get stuff done: Not only do you know what you need to do, you now also have put aside some time specifically for the task. Therefore, when your reminder rings, you know what to do next instead of glancing at your to-do list and wondering which task to pick first. Because, you also have a specific time slot, you know that you need to finish the task or at least get most of it done within that time span, which leads me to….
- Minimizes distractions: Since you are working around a time constraint, you cannot really afford to squander time browsing various websites, checking your Instagram feed or checking your email too often. An additional benefit is that since you know you have blocked the time for a specific task, you can say ‘No’ to others when they need that specific slot on your calendar unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you are blocking time on a shared calendar, everyone else knows when not to disturb you.
- Helps prioritize: Because you know just how much time you have left when you start blocking your calendar, you can set a more realistic picture of how much you can actually get done in a day, week or month. When you realize you can’t possibility fit in everything you wanted to do in a day, it pushes you to start prioritizing. Most people prefer to slot critical tasks for their peak productive hours – be it early morning or late evenings.
A full calendar may seem intimidating at first for those who like to see a sparsely populated one but believe me; this single life hack may actually lead to you to become one of the most productive people you know. Give it a shot. You can come back and thank me later!