For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been experimenting with the idea of time blocking my day, and am happy to say that for the most part, it works.
The idea of time blocking was popularized recently by Cal Newport, a computer science professor and author.
The premise is simple – plan out every single minute of your day, and you are now in control of your day and the outcome.
If we were having a conversation, this is where you would (likely) say something like this:
But James, that’ll never work! I have meetings and people pulling me into design discussions and OMG I’ll never be able to make it work!
To which I respond: If you don’t make time for your own work, nobody else will. It's that simple.
James, I don’t know what I’m doing in 15 minutes, let alone for the entire day!
I think you do. If you sit down and think for a few minutes with a pen & pencil (that's a must!) and write out anything that comes to mind, you’ll know what you have to do for the day. Your page will be messy ("walk the dog" right next to "send pitch deck to Balsa Ventures" right next to "fix bug #432"), and not everything there should be done, but you'll have an idea of what is truly important and can get started.
I'm not going to claim that it's a piece of cake to engage in time blocking – our entire modern world is built around distraction. But without an emphasis on hours at a time spent on big, knotty problems you will forever be behind and at the mercy of others.
Additional resources on time blocking: