Working From Home, Tip #3: Block Time

Block time is super important for our productivity. If you’re not familiar with it, it just means you schedule time in your day for a certain thing. Things like working on your presentation, writing content for your blog or social media, researching a new project, checking email, making outbound calls., scheduling meetings, or even taking meetings.

Again, it sounds like common sense. But it’s not common practice. If it sounds simple, it’s because it is..and here’s the key:

If you block time to return phone calls at, say, 3:30-4:30 in the afternoon, you don’t check social media AT ALL during that time.

If you schedule block time at 10am to work on a presentation or write a song or a blog or create email automations for the month, you don’t answer the phone or return texts or check your email during that time.

If you’re working on social media at 11am, you don’t hop back and forth to email or todo lists during that time. You only focus on social media work.

Period. The end. You’re purposefully not drifting along, trying to work through the day according to how you may feel at the moment. And I know… for those of us who are creatives, it sounds confining and miserable and restrictive. But it’s not, I promise. By having structure, you actually have more freedom. More creativity. More free time.

For instance, in my life this is how it plays out. If I’m working out in my home studio or office, especially if it’s a creative block of time where I’m writing or doing video or working on a presentation, I intentionally leave my phone in the kitchen. My kids know that, unless there’s vomit or blood, don’t interrupt me. I’ll be available in 45 minutes (more on that in Tip #4). Until then, I need my full attention where it is so that I can give my full attention to them when I’m there. It has to work both ways. (FULL DISCLOSURE: Our school-age kids at home are 11 and 17… and they’re pretty good at being self-starters and self-sufficient. If you have younger kids in the house, I know this can be super difficult! What have you found that works for you??)

By the same token, when I’ve blocked family time, I don’t answer work texts or calls (unless it’s an emergency… which it almost never is.) I’m not going to schedule a work meeting during dinner with my wife. I’m not checking email or writing copy for a blog when I’ve blocked time for a family movie night. I treat scheduled family time just as importantly as a doctor appointment or a meeting with the CEO of a large company. Maybe even more so.

The problem is some of us still believe the lie of ‘multitasking’ and don’t realize that every time you switch tasks, you eat up precious mental energy and calories, and contribute to mental fatigue. And once you switch tasks, it can take up to 20 minutes to get back into the flow of what you were working on before you were interrupted. By jumping from task to task without completing them, you’re sabotaging yourself, sabotaging your productivity and your energy. As a result, your mood and emotional state will suffer because you feel less productive at the end of the day. How many times have you beat yourself up emotionally because you felt like the day was a failure or not as productive as it could’ve been. Or because you feel you didn’t do your best? It’s demoralizing.

Block Time has helped me create more. Produce more. Do more. And have more energy and focus for my loved ones once my work day is done. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll give it a shot!

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