I've tried every productivity method under the sun and there is very less that stuck with me. One thing changed and improved my day so much, you guessed it, it's time blocking.
Budgeting your time
It doesn't start with time blocking. More or less it's a mindset shift. Starting to budget your time like you would with money will change your relationship with time forever.
You wouldn't spend money on something that you don't want or need at all, yet you do it with your time. Time, compared to money, is a finite resource.
Think about what's important to you and where you want to make your investment. With which people, movies, or tasks you want to spend your time with?
How it works
It works both digital and analog and I also switch often between a digital calendar and a paper notebook. When I use pen and paper I dedicate at least two pages for every single day. That feels good and leaves room for thoughts.
On the left side I will write the weekday and the date. Below that I will ask myself the question of what's important today. The answers either come from my brain, my to-do list or my calendar.
When I am done with that part, I will start on the next page with the actual blocks for the day. By writing what's important on the page before I am making sure that this gets reflected in my time blocking.
Each line means 30 minutes, depending on the notebook I am using this can vary.
I am a huge calendar nerd; therefore I have already scheduled a lot of my day upfront, as well as routine tasks like writing and working out. So, my first look always goes into my calendar app.
The day below is very untypical meanwhile, I have put a lot of effort in keeping my calendar free in the morning.
Honesty is an important point; If you know that a meeting will require ten minutes preparation or is likely to always take 15 minutes longer, it needs to be reflected in your planning.
After putting the blocks from my calendar in I will schedule the highlights from the page before. During writing them down on the left page, I've already broken them down into one hour blocks.
My personal schedule also appears there as well. You can see two 2.5 hours of margin there, that's time for dinner, chatting with my spouse and so on. Here people get time blocking or time management wrong, where it's not about depriving yourself and being busy all day, it's about making time for the things that matter to you. By putting my highlights in there I am making sure I am taking the time for it.
It's not about squeezing the lemon even harder, it's about making time for the things that are important to you.
I have also placed a block there that's called "Ad-hoc / Slack /Email / Calls". In this time I am open for distraction and getting into calls, answering all the messages that came in throughout the day and so on. Barely any message deserves immediate attention. If I got no messages or calls to make, even better, I am done.
You can also see that I am scheduling my "workout + coffee" and things like "gardening" there. It may sound stupid first, but it's the same intention as blocking the time with my girlfriend. I am making time for it intentionally so that nothing else will take that time away.
If you have any question about time blocking or need help, let me know, I'd love to chat.