Time Blocking and 5 Other Productivity Techniques that Actually Work
You can have all the right intentions to get through your chore list but how often does it really happen? Productivity does require proper planning. It doesn’t simply ‘happen’. With time blocking, chore apps like Enzo and some of our other tips, you’ll soon tick off more to dos…and have more free time.
Few things are as satisfying as drawing a line through yet another item on your daily to do list. But if you often have more items left over than you actually managed to complete, don’t worry! You’re not the only one battling to maintain productivity throughout the week. And…we have some secrets to share.
Even with a lot of motivation and good intentions, most peoples to dos often get moved to the next day. And then the next. But with expert techniques, including time blocking and SMART goals, you can soon be more efficient.
What is Time Blocking?
With time blocking, you take a very proactive approach to managing and planning how you’ll spend each part of your day. You allocate specific blocks of time for certain types of tasks, instead of simply having a random list of things to do and trying to handle whatever you jotted down next.
You stick to the time blocking schedule, referring back to the plan to ensure you stay on course. This helps you manage your time and keep focus.
How does it Work?
Time blocking works well in various home and work environments. It can help you achieve more because you’re not switching between unrelated tasks and different contexts throughout the day. This could help you experience less fatigue, and you’ll use less mental energy, feeling fresh and being able to think clearly throughout the day.
Also, time blocking forces you to move on to other tasks once the specific time is over. This prevents perfectionists from spending too much time on a certain project.
Time blocking is optimized with approaches like task batching where you group similar tasks together and focus on them during on time block. For example, you can do all necessary research for projects in the morning and create spreadsheets or reports during another block of time.
Because the tasks are related, it’s easier to stay focused and it saves some mental energy. Also, you don’t have to list each of the individual tasks on your calendar. The blocks of time can seem less overwhelming than hundreds of tiny tasks.
In practice, for time blocking you can follow this process:
- Make a list of all you need to do the next day.
- Identify similar tasks and create groups accordingly.
- Based on past experience, gauge how much time each group’s work will require.
- Create a block on your calendar to allocate the appropriate time for those tasks.
- Start off the next day by following the time blocking guideline.
Regroup at the end of the day and carry over uncompleted tasks, if there’s anything you didn’t finish.
Some people feel it’s not a very realistic approach, since your job may require a more reactive approach.
For example, you may receive urgent emails throughout the day, so you can’t ignore your inbox until the block of time allocated to ‘communication’. However, you can apply the principles to parts of your day to feel more in control.
In a home environment it can be an excellent approach to getting chores done, especially for a deep cleaning weekend where all family members or roommates join in.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
Focusing for hours on end can bring on fatigue and some people may simply find it difficult to concentrate for long. The Pomodoro method is named after the well-known kitchen timers that look like tomatoes.
You work for sprints throughout the day and take short breaks in between. You’re bound to get more done and you may feel less drained as the end of the day draws near.
How does it Work?
You need a to do list on hand already and you’ll perform one of them during each interval:
- Set a timer for a certain time. Many people agree 25 minutes is an appropriate length, but you can adjust this if you know a certain task will take a little longer and you don’t want to lose focus halfway through.
- Start the timer and get to work on the chosen task.
- When the timer goes off, set it to go off again after 5 minutes.
- Take a break by getting up, having a drink of water or getting a breath of fresh air.
- When the break-time is over, set the timer for a work session again.
- Follow this rhythm throughout the day.
Chore Tracker Apps
What is a Chore Tracker?
Often, the challenge is to manage multiple people who need to work together or perform tasks that affect other parties. This is typical of a large project in an office but is also relevant in a home setup with others, like roommates, who need to perform chores. A chore tracker helps to:
- List chores
- Allocate it to responsible parties
- Show when a chore has been completed
- Remind users of upcoming chores
It takes on much of the management grunt work so one parent or a certain roommate doesn’t have to continuously remind others of their daily chores. And because it’s accessible on mobile, you can get reminders or add new tasks no matter where you are.
How does it Work?
A user-friendly app like Enzo will have all relevant parties connected via the app very quickly:
- Download the app to all participants’ mobile devices
- Set up the app with all relevant parties
- Add tasks
- Allocate responsible parties
- Set due dates
- Show when you’ve completed a task
What are SMART Goals?
How you set goals play a big part in whether you’ll reach them. SMART goals have a better chance of becoming reality. This refers to them being:
- Time related
How does it Work?
You can have a big goal to achieve but break it down into smaller milestones. Completing one of these will seem less daunting and you can celebrate small victories as you move closer to the final outcome.
Now ensure each of the milestones align with the SMART guideline above. It must clearly state what’s expected and you must be able to measure the outcome. Without the latter, you can’t analyze and improve.
Furthermore, you need to be realistic, because if a goal really isn’t achievable, you’ll simply face disappointment down the line. Pick goals that are relevant to your overall dream for your life, otherwise it doesn’t carry much meaning. And by setting due dates and creating a timeline, you’ll have more motivation and drive to stick to your plan.
What is a Not-to-do List?
This is simply a list of things that is keeping you from achieving your goals. If you can avoid some of them, you’re very likely to be more productive and efficient.
How does it Work?
Look back at the past few weeks and consider what has hampered you completing your to do lists every day:
- Do you have bad habits like social media scrolling that rob you of time?
- Are you doing your roommates’ chores because they’re abusing your kindness, and therefore not getting to your own work?
- Does your boss request work you don’t have the skillset for, which you should rather ask the team for assistance for?
Compile a list of not-to-do items and start finding ways to manage these scenarios better. Soon you’ll have more time to focus on what you’re really supposed to be doing.
Eat the Frog
What is ‘Eat the Frog’?
Frog? This simply refers to that task that’s the most difficult or the least enjoyable in your day. You most likely move this to the bottom of your to do list, try to avoid it, or procrastinate until you can’t ignore it any longer. But then there’s usually a lot of stress involved in getting it done, right?
What you may not realize is that subconsciously you’ve been stressing about that task all along. So, you’re using valuable energy. Experts advise to rather take care of that first thing in the morning.
How does it Work?
Look at your list of chores or tasks and identify the worst one or ones:
- What makes you cringe?
- Which chore have you been putting off for days?
- Is there anything you feel is too daunting to take on?
Now, schedule that as your first task of the day and get it done. Even if it takes a little time, the rest of the day you’ll feel lighter, more positive—because it’s not nagging at the back of your mind—and motivated because you realize you’re capable of more than you think.
It will take time for these approaches to become second nature. Also, you need to try out time blocking and other methods to determine what suits your personality, work environment and personal preferences. But practicing at them is worth it!
Those who make productivity techniques part of their daily lives feel more accomplished at the end of each day—and you’re bound to be less stressed because there will be fewer to do items moving onto tomorrow’s list.
With Enzo and its user-friendly approach, you can experience more efficiency at home with your family or roommates and getting chores done. Download it today for free—on Android or iOS—and try it out!