Skill Mastery & Mindset

Time management is a skill: Time Blocking

Philip Wallage
December 30, 2023
5 min read
Time management is a skill: Time Blocking

Every freelancer knows the tune: the crescendo of tasks demanding attention, the staccato interruptions of emails and calls, and the sometimes overwhelming fortissimo of deadlines looming. It's a daily symphony that can either be harmonious or chaotic. But what if there was a maestro, a guiding hand, that could bring order to this orchestra of tasks and responsibilities?

Enter time blocking, the unsung hero of the freelance world. It's the conductor that can turn your cacophonous day into a well-composed masterpiece, ensuring each section of your day plays its part beautifully. As we delve deeper into this art of time management, you'll discover how to make your days sing in perfect harmony.

The Canvas of Time: Understanding Time Blocking

In the vast landscape of a freelancer's day, time is the canvas. It's expansive, full of potential, but also finite. Just as an artist wouldn't splash paint haphazardly on a canvas without a vision, a freelancer shouldn't dive into their day without a plan. This is where time blocking shines, acting as the sketch that guides the masterpiece.

The Brush Strokes of Time Blocking

Time blocking is more than just penciling in tasks on a calendar. It's a deliberate method of allocating specific chunks of time to specific tasks. Think of it as painting with purpose, where each brush stroke is intentional and contributes to the bigger picture.

  • Focused Work: By dedicating blocks of time to specific tasks, you ensure that you're giving undivided attention to what's at hand. No more flitting between tasks and losing momentum.
  • Minimized Distractions: When you know you have a set time to work on something, it's easier to resist the siren call of social media or the allure of that new Netflix series.
  • Clear Boundaries: Time blocking helps in setting boundaries between work and leisure, ensuring that both get their due attention.

Colors of Prioritization: Deciding What Matters Most

Not all tasks are created equal. Just as an artist chooses colors carefully, deciding which hues will dominate the canvas and which will play a supporting role, a freelancer must decide which tasks are paramount and which can wait.

  • Urgent vs. Important: It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of urgent tasks, but they might not always align with your long-term goals. Time blocking helps in distinguishing between what needs immediate attention and what will drive your business forward in the long run.
  • Value-driven Tasks: These are the tasks that directly contribute to your business growth. They're the vibrant colors that make your canvas pop.
  • Supportive Tasks: While they might not be the star of the show, these tasks, like replying to emails or administrative chores, ensure that everything runs smoothly. They're the subtle shades that provide depth and balance to your painting.

As the renowned artist Pablo Picasso once said, Action is the foundational key to all success. In the world of freelancing, action is driven by prioritization. By understanding what truly matters and allocating time accordingly, you're setting the stage (or in this case, the canvas) for success.

The Sculptor's Approach: Carving Out Blocks for Different Tasks

Imagine a sculptor, standing before a block of marble. To the untrained eye, it's just a slab, but to the artist, it holds a world of possibilities. With precision and intent, the sculptor chisels away, revealing the masterpiece within. Similarly, as a freelancer, your day is that block of marble, and with the chisel of time blocking, you can carve out a structure that's both functional and beautiful.

The Foundation: Core Tasks vs. Peripheral Tasks

Every sculpture has a foundation, the central figure or theme that dominates the piece. In the realm of freelancing, these are your core tasks. They're the projects, assignments, or activities that form the backbone of your business.

  • Identifying Core Tasks: Start by listing down tasks that directly impact your revenue or business growth. These could be client projects, product development, or even networking activities that open doors to future opportunities.
  • Allocating Prime Time: Your core tasks deserve prime time. If you're a morning person and that's when your creativity peaks, schedule these tasks for the AM hours. Conversely, if you're a night owl, reserve your evenings for these pivotal activities.

Peripheral tasks, on the other hand, are the finer details of the sculpture, the intricate patterns that provide depth but don't necessarily define the piece. These are the tasks that support your core activities.

  • Batching Peripheral Tasks: Group similar tasks together. For instance, set aside a specific block of time just for emails or administrative chores. This way, you're not constantly shifting gears and can maintain a flow.
  • Setting Boundaries: Just as a sculptor knows when to stop chiseling to avoid over-detailing, know when to cap your peripheral tasks. It's easy to get lost in the minutiae, but remember, they should complement, not overshadow, your core tasks.

The Finishing Touches: Allocating Time for Breaks and Flexibility

No sculpture is complete without the finishing touches, the final polish that brings out its beauty. In the context of time blocking, these finishing touches are the breaks you take and the flexibility you allow.

  • Scheduled Breaks: Just as a sculptor steps back to assess their work, you too need breaks to refresh and recharge. These aren't just gaps in your schedule; they're essential intervals that boost productivity and creativity.
  • Buffer Zones: Not every day goes as planned. Sometimes, tasks take longer than anticipated, or unexpected events throw a wrench in the works. By building in buffer zones, you're giving yourself the leeway to adapt without derailing your entire schedule.

The Critique: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Every artist, no matter how seasoned, occasionally faces critiques. They're an essential part of growth, allowing us to see where we might have gone astray and how we can refine our craft. In the world of time blocking, even the most diligent freelancers can sometimes stumble. But fear not, for every misstep is a learning opportunity. Let's explore some common pitfalls and how to gracefully sidestep them.

Overloading the Canvas: Avoiding Over-scheduling

Just as an artist can overwork a canvas, leading to a muddled and unclear piece, a freelancer can overload their schedule, leading to burnout and decreased productivity.

  • Recognize Your Limits: Understand that there are only so many hours in a day. It's essential to be realistic about what you can achieve within those hours.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Instead of cramming numerous tasks into a day, focus on a few critical ones and give them your best effort. A few well-executed tasks often yield better results than many hastily done ones.
  • Re-evaluate Regularly: If you consistently find yourself unable to complete your scheduled tasks, it might be time to reassess and adjust your time blocks.

The Forgotten Sketches: Remembering to Review and Adjust

An artist often revisits their sketches, refining and adjusting as their vision evolves. Similarly, your initial time blocks might need revisiting and tweaking as you gain more insight into your work patterns and priorities.

  • Stay Adaptable: Your tasks, priorities, and even personal energy levels can change. It's crucial to remain flexible and adjust your time blocks accordingly.
  • Monthly Check-ins: Dedicate some time at the end of each month to review your time blocking strategy. What worked? What didn't? Use these insights to optimize for the upcoming month.
  • Seek Feedback: Just as artists benefit from critiques, freelancers can gain valuable insights from peers. Engage with fellow members of the Productizer Community to share experiences and gather feedback on your time management techniques.

Neglecting the Muse: Forgetting Self-care

In the pursuit of productivity, it's easy to forget the very muse that fuels creativity: self-care. An artist wouldn't neglect their tools, and similarly, a freelancer shouldn't neglect their well-being.

  • Schedule Downtime: Just as you block time for tasks, ensure you block time for relaxation and hobbies. This isn't wasted time; it's essential for recharging your creative batteries.
  • Physical Health: Whether it's a quick workout, a walk, or even regular stretches, ensure you're taking care of your body. A healthy body often leads to a more focused and creative mind.
  • Mental Well-being: Freelancing can sometimes be isolating. Make time for social interactions, meditation, or even just some quiet reflection. A calm mind is a fertile ground for creativity.

Joining the Time Blocking Renaissance in the Productizer Community

The renaissance was a period of rebirth, a time when artists, thinkers, and creators broke away from the confines of the past to shape a brighter, more enlightened future. In the realm of freelancing, we're witnessing a similar renaissance, where time blocking is leading the charge.

  • A New Dawn: Just as the renaissance artists transformed the world of art, time blocking has the potential to revolutionize the way freelancers approach their day, turning chaos into a harmonious symphony.
  • Community at its Core: The renaissance wasn't a solitary movement; it thrived on community and collaboration. Similarly, the Productizer Community stands as a beacon, a gathering of like-minded souls eager to share, learn, and grow together.
  • Embrace the Movement: The beauty of this renaissance lies in its accessibility. Every freelancer, regardless of their niche or experience, can harness the power of time blocking to paint brighter, more fulfilling days.

As we close this chapter, remember that every day is a canvas, every task a brushstroke, and with the palette of time blocking, you're poised to create masterpieces.

Weekly newsletter
Join +2.500 Creative Freelancers who receive actionable tips, every Thursday.
A 5-minute read, packed with solutions to scale your business.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.