Time-Blocking Is the Productivity Hack You Need to Get More Done — Without Going Crazy

It's time to swap out your notebook for a calendar.

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Few things are as satisfying as crossing an item off your to-do list. But if you're consistently struggling with crossing all of the items off your daily to-do list (and it's costing you sleep and/or sanity), listen up: Fast Company recently introduced us to a productivity hack that might be just what you need to help you get more done in a day.

Known as time-blocking, the productivity hack basically involves thinking of the day's to-dos in terms of time instead of tasks. So, rather than making a simple list of tasks you need to work through no matter how long they take, you separate your day into 30-, 60-, or 90-minute sections and assign each to-do item to a specific period of time. (Read: It's time to swap out your spiral notebook for a calendar.)

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Even the experts stand behind time-blocking. Cal Newport, PhD, an associate computer science professor at Georgetown University and the author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, told Fast Company that the strategy is way more efficient than traditional list-making.

"This follows because it allows you to schedule work for the time where it makes the most sense — batching together small things, tackling hard things when you have the long stretches to make progress, and so on," he said. We're sold!

Ready to start powering through your list calendar? Before you get started, take a quick peek at these time-blocking tips:

Schedule your biggest tasks for time slots when you have more time and energy.

Not a morning person? Save your big to-dos for the afternoon. Know that Fridays are always super-busy in your office? Leave your schedule a little more flexible on those days.

Leave a few buffer periods open throughout the day.

It's basically human nature to underestimate how long certain tasks will take. Leave a few 30-minute chunks unscheduled throughout the day to give yourself a little cushion when something inevitably runs over.

Say "buh-bye" to distractions.

To help you better follow your day's schedule, turn off push notifications and set your phone to silent. Work won't let you go the whole day unplugged? Set aside a short "power hour" during which you promise to be distraction-free.

Remember it's OK to adjust the schedule as you go.

The key to making time-blocking work for you is not getting caught up in a rigid schedule. Things come up and schedules change, so readjust your time blocks and task assignments as the day passes.

[h/t Fast Company]

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