Time blocks are not a new concept.
In fact you are already using them, and don’t realize it.
When you go to work, you are working during a time block. When you go to school you are in a time block. When you participate in recreational activities. Yep, that’s a time block too.
So the concept isn’t new. But, optimizing your time blocks for maximum effectiveness is new for a lot of people.
Back in 2018, I had just closed my insurance and investment brokerage, and was restructuring my company and transitioning to being a solopreneur when I decided that I would go back to shcool and get my Management degree.
Here’s the same framework that I used to optimize my time so that I could get the most out of each day. So whether you work for someone, or you work for yourself, this same framework will help you get more done, reduce stress, and create more time for you to enjoy the things you like to do.
Plan your work for when you are best suited for each type of task
Throughout your day you have various energy cycles, or circadian rhythms. A circadian rhythm is an internal process that regulates your sleep/wake cycle and can also be affected by environmental factors such as light and temperature. It’s a complex process.
For our purposes, we want to know that they exist, and optimize our daily activities to maximize our productivity with these processes in mind.
There are two broad groups of people. Early Birds, and Night Owls.
Early Birds typically feel more energy, and are more productive during the earlier part of the day.
Night Owls are the opposite. They’re just getting started when the Early Bird is wrapping up their day.
Structure your day into four categories of activities
There are generally four categories of activities. An easy way to remember these is with the FARS acronym.
- Focus Activities are those activities that require your greatest attention: working on a project, studying for an exam, or anything where you want to maximize your learning and memory. For example, writing this newsletter is a Focus Activity.
- Administrative Activities are those things like checking email, social media messages, doing your banking. On the job, this might include submitting reports, and paperwork.
- Rejuvenation Activities include anything that will improve your physical and mental health. Getting out for exercise, taking a lunch break, sleep, and so on.
- Social/Service Activitiés are those activities like client meetings and social gatherings. Really, any activities that involve other people.
Create Time Blocks using the FARS Framework
Essentially, you want to structure your day and your week using the FARS framework. Block off certain hours for each type of activity, and then schedule your tasks into each timeblock.
You will want to schedule your Focus Block when you are at your best. Your mind is clearest, and you feel like you have a lot of energy. For some people, who are early risers this might be first thing in the morning. For night owls, it will typically be later in the day. For me, as an early bird, my best time is early in the morning between 6:00 and 9:00 am. That’s because I typically get up between 5:00 and 5:30am
It’s recommended that the Administrative Block be adjacent to the Focus Block in that some Administrative Tasks may require greater focus and in that case there might be some overlap between the two.
It’s important to schedule Rejuvenation times to get rest, and generate energy. In order to maintain Peak Productivity it’s necessary to build time into your schedule to take care of your physical and mental health so that you have the energy to complete your most important work.
Service/Social time should be broken down into two sub categories. If you’re a business owner, or professional, this block would include the time you spend with clients, or in meetings. You will notice that in this framework, that rarely are meetings scheduled during other blocks. Social activities are times that you spend with friends and family in social settings.
This might take some time, and some trial and error. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time. As you learn and grow, you’ll find what works best for you.
Color Code Your Time Blocks
You’ll find that by color coding your time blocks that its much easier to visuals the framework on your calendar.
- Focus, color code blue (the sky’s the limit)
- Administrative, color code red (red tape)
- Recreation and Rest, color code yellow (mellow yellow to chill)
- Service, color code green (we get paid for our service)
Start by color coding your digital calendar, or you can download the Time Blocks worksheet for free along with a video lesson that show you how to set it up.
Even though using time blocks seems restrictive at first, you will soon learn that doing certain tasks during certain parts of your day will increase your productivity, and give you greater flexibility because of these productivity gains.
Remember, discipline increases flexibility.