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If you’ve read any other blog post of mine, you probably already know that I’m a huge fan of calendar blocking!
If not, now you know it.
Calendar blocking is one of the most effective tools to be more efficient with your time and get your work done faster.
The way I teach my clients is to use Google calendar for time blocking.
And because I thought you guys might find that helpful, too, this is what I’ll share in this article.
I’ll walk you through how to use Google calendar for time blocking step by step so you can start using it asap.
What is time blocking and why is it so effective?
But first, let’s talk about what exactly time or calendar blocking (I’ll use the interchangeably throughout this article) even really is. Plus, why it’s so effective.
So, calendar blocking is a really simple time management method where you block off certain hours of the day to work on very specific tasks.
This makes batching far easier, which in turn will help you get work done far more efficiently.
If you’re not familiar with batching, here’s how to use content batching and save hours every week.
Helps avoiding task switching
Now, what I love so much about time blocking in combination with batching is that it helps to avoid task switching.
As discussed in one of my previous articles, task switching is equally bad for your productivity as multitasking. So, both work methods are to be avoided at all cost!
The most efficient and effective way to get work done is through monotasking. This means that you only work on one task or several very similar tasks for a certain amount of time.
When you implement calendar blocking, you’ll block off time chunks during the day where you’ll do exactly that.
For instance, if you’re a blogger, one block could be used just to write articles. Ideally, you would dissect your article writing process in preparation, writing and editing.
This is what I do, and I find it highly effective.
So, during a writing block, I only do the actual writing of an article. I’m not going to do any research and I’m not editing. I’m just writing without ever going back and re-reading parts.
This allows me to write articles of 1,500 to 2,000 words in 50 minutes to 1 hour!
The whole process from researching to publishing takes me about 2 to 2.5 hours per article. That’s a significant increase from the couple of days it took me in the beginning…
Gives you a good overview of how much time you can spend on different tasks
Another part I love about time blocking is that it gives you a great overview of how much time you can actually spend on your different tasks.
This is very helpful for my workaholic friends out there. What I used to struggle with a lot is that I would always overload my days and have endless to do lists.
Not only is this very frustrating. It’s also increasingly hard to set boundaries if your to do list is not even doable in one day.
If you put your working hours into your calendar, you’ll see how much time you’ve got available right away.
Ideally, you’d even schedule in some leisure activity in the evening, which will make boundaries far easier to stick to.
Great for batching
As mentioned before, another great advantage of calendar blocking is that it works great for batching.
Especially as entrepreneurs, we have the freedom to use our time as we please. Make use of that and block off several hours at least once per week for content batching.
You’ll be far more efficient if you block off 2 to 4 hours once per week to write 2 to 4 articles all at once instead of having it scattered all over your week.
But it’s not only great for batching tasks that need a lot of focus. It’s equally beneficial to batch low-focus tasks, such as email.
What I like to teach my clients is that they block off 30-minute chunks once to three times (ideally) per day where they only check their emails and reply to the quick ones that take less than 3 minutes. Then they’ll move the ones that take a longer reply to another folder called “need action” and determine during what block they’ll work on that.
That’s a huge time saver!
Check out my article about email management to learn more.
How to use Google calendar for time blocking
Okay, now that you understand the benefits of time blocking, let’s look at the exact steps you need in order to use Google calendar for time blocking.
It’s super easy, so just follow along and implement the instructions one step at a time.
1. Determine your high energy and low energy hours
First of all, you need to determine your high energy and your low energy hours.
Maybe you know that straight away because there are certain hours during the day where you never seem to be able to get work done. For me that’s about an hour after lunch. I literally almost fall asleep!
But if not, don’t worry. Start with my suggestion and observe your concentration throughout your day.
Then, reschedule the blocks according to your focus capacity after about a week or two. So, here’ my suggestion:
- 1 high focus block in the morning from 8am to 11 am
- 1 low focus block from 11am to 12pm (for instance for email and admin stuff)
- 1 break block from 12 pm to 2 pm
- 1 high focus block from 2pm to 4pm
- 1 low focus block from 4pm to 5pm
Try this for a week. You’ll probably notice very quickly if these blocks match your energy level. If not, change them around.
2. Make each high focus block at least 2 hours long
High focus blocks will help you go very deep into specific tasks. In order to get that amount of depth, you need time. This is why I recommend making each high focus block at least 2 hours long. This will allow you to get significant amount of work done, especially if you’re batching.
You can still make short breaks. I highly recommend using the Pomodoro Technique, at least to get started. With this technique you work for 25 minutes without interruption and then you take a 5-minute break.
Use those short breaks to get something to drink, go to the bathroom or get some fresh air in the yard.
Avoid scrolling through your phone as this is very distracting. Better do that during a longer break.
Here’s how you can schedule a new block in your Google calendar:
Click the date and time on the calendar where you want to add a block. A window pops up:
Next, give it a title. You can either name it something like “high focus” and then just add the specific tasks you need to get done during that time block. Or you can just add the tasks.
After that you can adjust the time frame for the block:
Now scroll down and choose a color. I recommend always having the same color for the same kind of blocks, meaning all your high focus block should have the same color.
Below that you can choose if you want to get reminders. I always turn them off because I know when my blocks start. But that’s up to you.
That’s basically all you need.
So now you can save your new block and move on to the next one or the next step.
3. Add several low focus and break blocks in your calendar
Next, it’s time to schedule your low focus and break blocks. It’s very important to schedule break and leisure blocks in particular as you need to make them a priority.
You won’t be able to focus for 12 hours straight. So, your high focus block will be significantly more effective if you take regular breaks to regain some mental energy.
Ideally, have at least one 1 to 2-hour break block in the middle of your day. Then, try scheduling also several shorter break blocks of 15 to 30 minutes.
Plus, also figure out what kind of tasks you need get done on any given day that don’t require high focus. These are often tasks like checking email, admin tasks or being active on social media.
Figure out how much time you’ll need every day and schedule them during times when your focus isn’t the highest.
4. Make them weekly recurring
Initially, you’ll probably need some time to figure out the best times and durations of your blocks. But once you found all of your sweet spots, it’s best to make them weekly recurring.
This way, you don’t need to reevaluate your weekly to dos every single week. You’ll just need to tweak it a little in the beginning of the week, in case something urgent comes up and you need to reschedule blocks.
To do that in Google calendar, open one of your blocks you want to make weekly recurring. Then click on “Does not repeat” and choose how regularly it should be recurring. I like to either use weekly or custom.
If you’d like the block to be daily recurring but only on certain days of the week, click “custom”. This allows you to choose on what days of the week the block should appear. It also allows you to choose occurrences and the interval.
5. Use different colors
Another thing that I highly recommend to make your calendar more useful is to use different colors for different tasks.
I like to use it in the simplest way, meaning that work has one color, break blocks have another color, leisure, irregular activities have one color and urgent things are red.
That’s about it.
However, I’ve just started experimented with different colors for high focus and low focus blocks as mentioned earlier and I quite like it. Try what works best for you.
6. Decide how detailed you want to block your time
Now, when it comes to calendar blocking, you could theoretically time it down to the minute. Meaning that you schedule in every 5-minute break.
That’s not the way I teach or do it myself because it gets very confusing and messy in my opinion. So, I rarely schedule in anything that’s less than 20 minutes.
But if you like to be super specific, feel free to do so. Anything that will help you stick to your blocks and use your high focus blocks as efficiently as possible is allowed.
7. Only be available for meetings at certain times
Okay, now this is an important part.
Next to emails, meetings and calls are another huge source of distractions these days. However, if you want to work as efficiently as possible, you’ll need to get rid of distractions.
In order to do that, you need to determine certain times when you’ll be available for meetings and calls.
And that’s it! You need to be strong with your boundaries here. Don’t let anyone schedule a meeting with you outside these hours, unless it’s an emergency. For instance, I’m only available for calls on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon with very few exceptions.
Reducing those interactive tasks to certain hours allows you to batch them as well and it avoids interrupting you during your high focus hours.
So, determine when you want to be available and schedule blocks for that as well.
8. Include at least one admin block per week
The last block that I highly recommend scheduling in is one admin block per week. If that’s not enough, schedule several blocks but make them short, meaning no longer than 1 hour.
Admin tasks rarely help you move your business forward. So, either hire a VA for them ar keep them short and concise.
Related article: How to delegate tasks effectively as a leader
However, I recommend scheduling in at least one block so that you can also batch those tasks together. This will help you avoid switching around if you suddenly remember that you need to pay a bill during a high focus block.
If something like that comes to mind, simply add it to your admin block to dos and move on with your task at hand.
Alright, so this is how to use Google Calendar for time blocking.
As you can see, it’s pretty simple and really easy to implement. You don’t need any super fancy skills to add those blocks to your calendar.
What’s far more important is that you figure out when you can focus best. Then, block off that time for tasks that need a lot of focus and only work on those during this block. Don’t let anything interrupt you and avoid switching around. You have other blocks for low focus or admin tasks. So, only get to those when it’s time.
Once you found your perfect schedule and manage to stick to it, time blocking can be a huge efficiency booster, trust me!
Ready to take your time management and productivity to the next level? I offer productivity coaching for content creators and professionals. Click here to learn more!