Everything You Need to Know About Time Blocking [Free Templates!]

by | Mar 6, 2020 | Business, Productivity

20 min read

Let’s see if you relate to this:
I used to flounder during the day.

With all these tasks as an entreperneur and not sure where to start, I was just picking and choosing based on how I felt. Sometimes I chose based on how quickly I felt like I could get them done.

Suddenly it was the end of the day and I wondered where the heck all the time went?

Because surely, I was productive all day, right?
I was doing productive things, why didn’t I get the right things done?

I felt guilty, and like the time was passing so quickly that I couldn’t grab onto anything to gain traction in my business.

I felt helpless to my own time.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Nowadays, I don’t have a problem.

I know exactly what tasks I need to work on each day.

Not only that, but I thrive on freedom in my schedule. With the time blocking method, I can completely create my schedule with freedom as my priority.

Dang it – why is it so hard to just stay on task and complete the things you want to do?

I’ve got a few reasons as to why this happens, and I’ll tell you my secret that I use to stay on track, and focus on the real important tasks, AND the ones that seem to show up out of nowhere.

You can do both of them.

I’ll show you how, with time blocking templates!

That’s what this post is about – how time blocking templates can totally change your day around and you can be 100% certain that your highest priority tasks are done, with time to spare.

In this post, I’ll answer questions like:

  • What is time blocking?
  • What does time blocking look like?
  • What are the benefits of using time blocking templates for your time?
  • Why should you time block? How it can increase your productivity
  • What are the consequences if I don’t time block?
  • Is time blocking the right method for you?
  • Examples of time blocking templates
  • How to get started with time blocking templates in your life
  • The different types of time blocking templates you can choose from
  • The best apps for time blocking if you don’t like paper or excel templates

So let’s get started.

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What is time blocking, anyway?

Time blocking is a unique productivity method.

It’s like a mix between writing your to do list and scheduling stuff in your calendar.

But it’s not just a normal ‘schedule’ that you follow, or a to-do list that you try to tame.

It’s mixing them together that actually give you benefits that leave you ready to tackle the day or week, rather than stare at that overwhelmingly long to do list wondering how you’re going to get it all done.

Okay..sounds intriguing…

What does time blocking look like?

Time blocking looks like your typical weekly view or daily view (whichever you chose) with various colored blocks to block out time.

Creating colorful blocks in your calendar leans towards a ‘bullet journal’ vibe with colorful blocks, while being simple enough that you aren’t spending hours decorating your planner with stickers and highlighters.

So if you’re in the in-between camp like I am (don’t want something too plain or simple, but also don’t want to spend too much time decorating stuff), time blocking is great!

This example is in Clickup, which is my favorite project management tool to run my business!

What are the benefits of time blocking?

  • Helps keep you focused on what you’re supposed to do
  • It helps you stay realistic about what you can actually accomplish
  • It helps me personally to realize how much time I should take for a task
  • It also gives you a guide to know what your overall week looks like
  • Prevents the squirrel brain from making you think something else is more important – TRICKY SQUIRRELS!
  • It helps you determine which tasks are most important
  • And finally, it allows you to finally take control of your time

Time blocking helps you to stay on track from all those shiny objects that occur during our workdays.

If you’re the type of person who has a hard time staying on track, despite having a to do list with 10 things on it for the day, or even 32173892179 things, time blocking can help you!

In fact, our messages, notifications, random fires to put out or emails we get, we’re all bombarded by craziness each day.

Did you know that every time we’re interrupted it takes 25 minutes for our brains to get back on track? We cannot multitask heavy work activities like we used to think!

Using this method as a productivity technique can skyrocket your productivity if you allow it to work for you.

It’s worth trying out!

But before you start getting excited about trying out this new method, let’s look at what time blocking looks like in your daily or weekly schedule, and in various forms.

Examples of time blocking templates

How to get started implementing time blocking templates your life

To get started, you’ll want to consider whether you want a physical or digital time blocking planner.

Then, you’ll want to start with your ‘larger rocks’ and work down to your ‘smaller rocks’.

I’ll explain more later.

After that, you’ll choose a max of 3 priorities to focus on each day.

Then, you’ll start filling those in for your day!

I’ll walk you through finishing up Time Blocking for the first time with some pro tips, and then I’ll list a few apps and templates you might like.

Choose whether you want to start time blocking on a digital or a physical planner

You can actually choose between the planning style you’re most comfortable with. That’s one neat thing about time blocking. It’s so flexible!

Do you work well with digital planners?

Use an Excel file or a digital planner on an iPad, or maybe a software like Clickup.

Do you work well with physical planners?

You can find digital time blocking templates or even use something like the Momentum Planner to type it up digitally and print it out for the day every morning.

Or perhaps you have a physical paper planner with a weekly or daily view that you want to highlight.

Totally up to you!

Plan your week ahead of time

If you have goals set, appointments, or tasks that are due this week, you should start with those. These are your big rocks!

You’ll want to put the most important priorities into your planner first.
This is to make sure they don’t slip by within the smaller tasks that end up filling your day.

TIP: The more accurate you are with estimating the amount of time for each task, the better and more accurate your day will actually be.

 

If you end up under-estimating the time it takes to do a project, the rest of your day could end up toppling over.

 

To combat this, you’ll want to put in extra spaces, and always add more time than you think you will need.

Use the Eisenhower Matrix to sort your tasks

If you aren’t sure which tasks are the higher priority (maybe they all seem like high priorities, I get that sometimes!) then you can use the Eisenhower Matrix.

This method is a simple sheet of paper that allows you to sort between four priorities:

  • Urgent/important
  • Urgent/not important
  • Not urgent/important
  • Not urgent/not important

Urgent/important, urgent/not important, not urgent/important and not urgent/not important.

I have created one in within my planner called The Weekly Summit which you can get for free, right below! If you want to use the Time Blocking method, you can just use the first page of The Weekly Summit which has an Eisenhower Matrix on it.

 

I created that page as a brain dumping page along with the matrix, so you can choose how you want to use it!

That way, you can brain dump all the stuff you’ve got going on in your head and begin to sort them.

Then, your priorities are right in front of you!

Snag the Eisenhower Matrix in the Weekly Summit below!

Then, you can start filling in your priorities into your time blocking sheet.

So like I promised in the intro, how do we make sure we get those big rocks and small rocks into our daily lives? Here’s the secret…

Add spaces within your blocks

As I mentioned above, you’re going to run out of time if you don’t add in extra time or over-estimate the amount of time it takes.

This is why we add space between.

Plus, things always come up when you aren’t expecting them. You get a phone call, someone stops by your office, a kid gets sick and has to be picked up from school, you forgot something, etc.

It will happen!

It’s better to put some leeway into your schedule before this happens, otherwise you might get discouraged thinking that the time blocking method isn’t working for you properly.

Simply leave a few blank spots within your time blocking document.

Focus on 3 top priorities each day

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.

This method of choosing only 3 priorities has been a HUGE game changer in terms of my focus and productivity.

I think a lot of us fall into the trap of trying to get tasks done as quickly as possible, but this can be a deadly productivity mistake.

I know you have the best intentions to get everything done on your list – I totally get it.

But if you get overwhelmed easily (like me!) or find yourself never finishing up the tasks on your list, it’s time to change that by testing a new method!

This method is just like the headline says – choosing 3 top priorities to get done each day.

All other tasks are to be done after these tasks are done.

Batch your tasks together

This is my ultimate secret to getting ahead in my business.

See, you can spend so much time trying to play catch up and trying not to drown that you start to panic. 

You will continue trying to swim upstream.

Instead of playing that fun game, you can use the batching technique along with time blocking to amp up your entire work week.

If you aren’t sure about this – give it a go!

All you need to do is combine the similar tasks together into doing it all at once.

It minimizes what scientists call task-switching.

So if you are used to checking your email 18 times per day, or every single time you get a notification, your brain takes around 25 minutes to switch tasks from the one you were working on, to the email task.

Then another 25 minutes to switch from the email to another task.

All in all, that adds up REALLY fast.

Faster than an episode of The Office!

That means you’re getting less done, because your brain is trying to allocate enough resources to get those things done efficiently without skipping a beat.

If you can batch all of your email tasks together, and then all of your social media tasks, and then all of your writing – your mental energy will be more efficient.

Therefore, you’ll be more productive!

So when you’re doing your time blocking, add in all of the tasks into blocks. You could choose a day of the week to do admin things, or a half a day to do customer relations.

Or even an entire day dedicated to writing the months blog posts. 

Find what works for you but stick with it long enough to see if it works before you change strategies!

Lastly, my biggest tip for time blocking is the one that will help you gain that freedom you crave so you don’t burnout!

Add break blocks into your time blocking template

 Remember when I said to add in spaces? You also need to fit in breaks!

You won’t perform well if you fill up all the hours in your day down to the minute.

In fact, science shows that when you take breaks, you end up performing up to 2 times better!

 

Final tips for time blocking like a pro

Take some time at the end of your day to plan tomorrow

One of the best ways you can get a jumpstart on your productivity for the day is to plan it the previous evening.

Michael Hyatt recommends having a work shutdown routine, where you can fill in your time blocking template for the next day.

Speaking of Michael Hyatt, I use his planner, the Full Focus Planner, to time block my day, week, month and year! This planner connects my long term goals down to the nitty gritty hours of my day.

That way you don’t have to use precious mental energy the next morning deciding what to do.

Your most productive biological time is going to be in the mornings – but if you’re filling that precious time up with things that aren’t as valuable, your productivity will be lower.

That’s why I recommend taking 5 minutes at the end of your day creating your time blocks for the next day. It’s worth it!

How can we increase our time blocking strategy with other strategies to power up our productivity?

Using a timer to increase speed, focus, overall productivity

You may have heard of The Pomodoro Method, where you set timers and focus on working through your tasks until the alarm sounds.
After a few timers, you take a break.
Then, repeat!

Why would a timer make a difference in your productivity?
And does it really make a large enough difference in your day to warrant doing?

Actually – yes!

 

Chris Winfield wrote a post on the Pomodoro work week (how he completed 40 hours of work in 16.7 hours

He claims the best benefits from The Pomodoro Method, which I believe work in line with the Time Blocking method:

“Works with time, not against it;

eliminates burnout;

manages distractions;

creates a better work/life balance.”

That’s right in line with what we’re trying to do with the time blocking method.

Try them together to see if it can add an extra superpower to your time blocking!

Next, let’s see what sort of time blocking templates we can use!

What kinds of time blocking templates are available?

There’s so many.

Do you want a daily time blocking template?

Do you want a time blocking template that’s for weekly time blocking?

Do you need 15 minute increments, 30 minute? 24 hours? Or maybe 5 days, 7 days, or a biweekly time blocking template?

Okay okay – maybe that’s too many options.

Maybe you don’t want to plan your day down to the nitty gritty and wanna go bold by planning out a few key events coming up in the next few months?

An overview of your upcoming months can be very effective in keeping you on track as well.

It’s all what you want to start with!

I recommend starting with a ONE page template for each week, and then each morning you could start blocking each DAY.

There’s plenty of time blocking templates all over the web, however I’ve got a few right here to choose from, which are great for beginners just starting out.

Google Sheets or Excel time blocking templates

 

Clickup time blocking templates

Both weekly and daily views!

Clickup Time Blocking Template Example

 

The perfect daily planners that allows time blocking

Momentum Planner – This planner includes a digital PDF version or a physical planner. You can type it up in the morning and print it out, or you can write it out physically!

or

The Full Focus Planner – The planner created by Michael Hyatt – check out my full review here!

 

You can even have time blocking in your bullet journal!

 

Time blocking templates within free printable planner sheets

Here are a bunch of free printable time blocking templates and pdfs to download!

This website, Smartsheet, has a bunch of Excel time blocking templates that you can download for free!

 

The best apps for time blocking and planning online

  • Clickup– this one is my favorite!
  • Plan
  • WeekPlan
  • PomoDone

And there you have it!

Time blocking is one of my favorite productivity techniques that even the big dogs use to plan out their days.

There’s a reason why the time blocking templates work.

Science is now starting to show that focusing on one thing at a time is better for us, and especially our work.

The proof is in la vanilla or chocolate pudding (take your pick)!

Try it for yourself, combine it with one of the above methods, and find what works best for YOU.

If you find that it doesn’t work after a few weeks, don’t bother keeping it.

Everyone is different, so every situation is going to be different.

Test other methods and keep tweaking until you find what’s right for you.

Time blocking is a simple but powerful method.

We tackled what time blocking is, what the benefits were, and I outlined several time blocking templates that you can use for your own inspiration.

Take the time (har har har) to try using time blocking templates and you might be surprised how well it works!

 Don’t forget that you can snag my free planner template, the Weekly Summit, to get your week together, here!

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