Unlike many other productivity hacks, time blocking is a technique that can increase efficiency without the need to spend extra money. It is a successful and proactive tactic that any professional can use to yield greater results.
Over the years, time blocking has received greater attention, with some of the world’s most powerful CEOs and entrepreneurs, such as Elon Musk, crediting the technique for their success. This time management tactic has proven beneficial for financial advisors as well.
Between having a family and working a full-time job, it can feel difficult to be fulfilled in both your social and work life. For example, prioritizing family time when an important project stands in the way, as well as other distractions, can be daunting.
Life is unpredictable and work is constant. Learning how to manage your time properly can help you work as efficiently as possible. Not only will you be more diligent about your work, but results will begin to occur naturally, leaving you with ample time for your family or social activities.
If you are a financial advisor looking to balance your work/life schedule, time blocking is a way to completely change and improve your time management strategy.
What Is Time Blocking And Why Does It Work?
Time blocking is an effective time management technique that involves scheduling your day in short increments. Although it may seem constraining to have your entire day planned out, this technique has proven effective for many when it comes to increasing efficiency and producing greater results.
Time blocking is also a valuable way to ward off any work-related stress that follows you home. While you are using time blocking, you can continue through the workday knowing you succeeded through each block and accomplished your daily goals.
The reason why time blocking has proven to be effective is because it forces you to focus on the task at hand. Scheduling every minute of your day protects you from distraction while simultaneously increasing your focus.
Focusing on one task at a time instead of multitasking can make you 80% more productive, said Cal Newport, author of Deep Work. Along with this, when you know you have time designated for checking your phone and social media, you will be less tempted to check it in the given moment.
Elon Musk’s Time-Blocking Method
As a father of six children, it is evident that Elon Musk is quite the family man. He also exercises regularly and has his own interests aside from work. Despite his endless to-do list, Musk is able to avoid distraction and manage his hectic schedule effectively through his use of time blocking.
Time blocking works slightly differently for every person. For example, Musk plans his day in five-minute time blocks. His days are preplanned and fully booked to eliminate distractions. During each time block, he has an assignment scheduled for himself, such as having breakfast or responding to emails.
Musk is undoubtedly one of the busiest men alive, he remains outrageously successful. While five-minute increments may be extreme for the average person, Musk demonstrates the incredible impact time blocking can have on efficiency.
Time Blocking For Your Practice
Time blocking is an effective time management technique that can be customized to each person. Although most days do not go as planned, time blocking can keep people on track and their priorities in check.
The first step to incorporating the time-blocking strategy is to plan in increments that work for you. In my practice, we focus on how to create the ideal workweek. Instead of using five-minute blocks like Musk does, we find that half-hour blocks are the most effective. For you, those time blocks could be 20 minutes or possibly an hour. Find an increment that increases your efficiency.
Begin by making lists of what you enjoy doing, what you want to do and what you simply have to do. Decide what can be delegated to your team or if it might be necessary to hire some extra help. Take notes of when you are meeting with vendors and clients or when you have other mandatory obligations. Once this is all marked down, set aside times for the smaller tasks, such as checking emails.
When engaging in time blocking, designate a block for checking social channels. Only when you’ve reached that time block should you check your notifications. Otherwise, keep devices on do not disturb. Another helpful tip is to group similar tasks. For example, consider scheduling similar meetings during the same day of each week.
After the time is blocked out and your schedule is made, create a folder for each type of task that must be completed. This way, when you arrive at a time block, such as preparing for a meeting, you have all the information accessible in that folder.
Time blocking isn’t only about organizing your schedule. As an advisor, it’s also important to organize the work that needs to be done. When I hit a time block designated for client calls, I make sure to use the time for this task only, even if I don’t have a particular call scheduled. Instead, I’ll go through my client list and reach out to a client I haven’t talked to in a bit. This is something I never would have found time to do previously.
As my practice evolves, so does the practice of my team. My team has set up their own time-blocking schedule based on their day-to-day tasks. Each member’s time blocks are entered into our system to provide a basis of scheduling for the remainder of the day. This system saves my office staff countless hours of emailing or calling back and forth to find the perfect time to host meetings.
Additionally, time blocking has given me the freedom to relax and enjoy the conversations I have with my clients rather than worrying about all the other assignments on my to-do list. I meet with clients three days a week and leave Mondays and Fridays for accomplishing the rest of my work-related tasks.
Although it is not always possible to align meetings at exact times, an office runs most smoothly when all members of a team are able to hit their ideal, time-blocked week with 90% accuracy.
Organizing the week into time blocks promotes a productive environment in less time while better serving clients. In addition, time blocking makes it possible to be there for your family.