This is one of those weeks when I’m supposed to accomplish two weeks worth of work in one. I’m excited about the upcoming trip to Colorado, but there’s much to accomplish before I board the flight. I’ve often marveled at how much I get done when a deadline is pressing in.
Focus is the name of the game. I love the result of being laser focused. My natural tendency is to be easily distracted. I’ve written about my self-diagnosis of BSOS – Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. That’s the tendency to hop from one appealing thing to the next. BSOS is a thief. Time blocking is my friend – it increases productivity.
Numerous studies have shown multi-tasking to be inefficient at best and damaging, at worst. A study at the University of London revealed the fascinating fact that multitasking reduces your IQ by as much as 15 points. In other words, the research defines your IQ while multitasking is equivalent to your brain function after smoking dope or pulling an all-nighter. This is slightly scary when I realize how much work I do when I am under the influence of too many distractions and divergent demands.
Overload is often the result of mismanagement of time. After all, each of us allotted the same number of hours in every day. The best leaders become masterful in planning and managing their time. When your schedule isn’t handled well, stress can result in anger, frustration, and poor health.
I have never claimed to be qualified to train on time-management techniques since I am constantly working on improvement in this area. However, one strategy that is consistently effective in getting me on task is time-blocking. Time blocking is the secret weapon of better focus. It helps you make the most of time by assigning specific tasks to very specific blocks of time. The increments can range from thirty minutes to four hours. For me, two hours has proven to be the limit for my time blocks.
The key is to pre-plan your week in blocks based on your highest priorities. It is necessary to block reactionary time periods for email and returning phone calls. The goal is to turn off anything that does not pertain to the assigned task while you are in that time block.
What about the myriad of apps available for productivity? Apps can become nothing more than a lot of icons crowding your device unless you first apply the personal discipline necessary to make behavioral changes.
Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Time blocking is a way to tame the tigers that try to put a choke-hold your efficinecy.
Time blocking can increase your focus, and as a result, your productivity. I am vigorously applying it this week. My reward awaits.