Block Out Time

In the last few blogs, we’ve been sharing time management tips and lessons learned over the years.  These are things which have helped me with time management and have been key to success. We started with the 1.  The Hard Stuff—the importance of getting the difficult jobs done first. Then we talked about 2. Only Touch Something Once—the importance of not wasting any energy by going back to the same small task over and over. Today, we’ll block out time.

3.  Block Out Time

Think, for a minute, about the expression, “block out.”  Usually, blocking out is a negative action.  A dictionary defines “to block out” as to ignore something or to obstruct a clear view of something. We are using the expression here, of course, with the secondary definition:  “to clear the way for,” or “to make time available,” or even “to carefully lay a foundation for.”

But think about it.  How many times have you sat down to do a big project, and then ending up practicing the first definitions of “block out?”  It’s almost human nature to find things which distract us from the task at hand.  Small tasks, people interruptions, a few phone calls, a quick check of email, and we are suddenly losing sight of our purpose.  Perhaps one of the very most important keys to success, and one of the most difficult, is learning the art of truly blocking out time for a project, free of distraction and interference from both the world and our own selves.

Use the T3L2 Guide:

T1-Task: Decide which tasks you need to time block.  These are the big projects: things with deadlines, preparations for client meetings, presentations, and reports.  Your most important time-blocking work is that which requires your undivided focus and energy.

T2– Time: Block your time out in advance.  Choose a date and hour for a project, and write it on your calendar.  Write it on your secretary’s calendar.  Write it on everybody’s calendar.  Your staff will bring you fewer interruptions if it is clear that you have scheduled this time for an important task.  Many small business leaders schedule a “meeting with myself” in order to get things done.  Schedule in advance, so both you and your staff anticipate the time block.

T3 – Turn Off!: For many of us, this is the most difficult part of time blocking.  To be effective, we must turn off our electronic distractions:  shut Block Out Time Blogdown email, silence cell phones, and ask our secretaries to really and truly hold our calls and inquiries. Yes, being available to clients and employees is important—but you can’t be good with them if you haven’t spent time doing your homework.  This is an excellent time to use a good answering service! A good answering service can provide personal, real-voice responses to your clients who call your cell or the land line, and you can work free of worry.  In fact, the answering service can even free up your secretary or receptionist to assist you, or to work on his own project during that blocked out period of time.

L1 – Length: Choose the length of time you want to block out.  Schedule a start and end time. Keep in mind that it will take your brain at least 15 minutes to settle down and get into the project at hand.  2 hour blocks of time are best—you’ll be able to make significant progress, or even complete your task, but you won’t get panicky about being out of touch with your staff.  For longer projects, you might schedule two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon, with time in the middle to touch base.

L2 – Location: Sometimes, you’ll have to get away from your office to get your difficult work done.  Consider a conference room, free of distractions.  Perhaps you will work well in a park, or in the back of a coffee shop. It’s okay to step away—your answering service has got this!

Let me know how it’s working for you. If you need help blocking out some time visit us as to see if we can assist you in meeting those deadlines without interruption!

Challenge:  What distractions prevent me from Blocking Out Time?  How can I employ T3L2 this week?

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