If you don’t block time on your calendar for what is most important, without meaning to, you will find yourself in reactive mode, and small things will crowd out your big goals. Blocking time doesn’t mean that you have to schedule your entire day, leaving no room for pop up meetings, people who need your help, or work that shows up and needs your attention. It means you have a plan, and you work that plan as best you can.
If you schedule three 90-minute blocks of time a day for your most important work, you will find that you get more important work done, that the work is a higher quality, and you complete your tasks and projects faster than you would have otherwise.
Those three 90-minute blocks total just 4.5 hours out of the entire 24 hours that make up your day. If you work an 8 hour day, that leaves you 3.5 hours to be reactive or responsive. It’s a tiny bit more than half of your day that you are controlling, and it is time you are protecting from distractions, the unimportant, small work that does nothing to move you closer to your goals.
If you block the first 90 minutes of your day, the time between 8:00 AM and 9:30 AM to complete the most important task you need to complete, at the end of that task, no matter what else happens, you will have been productive. Not as productive as you might have been, but doing what is most important first to completion protects you from a day where you are busy but nothing gets accomplished.
Putting the second block late morning doubles up the odds that you generate important outcomes by focusing on the most important task or outcome, or having done that, the second most important. If you block 10:30 AM to noon, you can take a break to reenergize and refuel, knowing that if your work day ended now, you will have done more than most of the people you know, and a good portion of your peers. This is true, even if you spend the hour between 9:30 AM and 10:30 AM glued to your email inbox.
Drop the last 90-minute block somewhere in your afternoon. Make it 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM. Either bang away on your most important project, or having finished the first and second most important tasks, move onto number three. Blocking time to do what is most important ensures that it gets done.
But what if your plan is derailed by the likely reality that you are interrupted by something that is both urgent and important? Don’t worry about it. Do what you need to do, and then get back to your most important project, task, or outcome as soon as possible. You are not playing for perfection here; you are playing for greater productivity and the chance to do meaningful, purposeful work, work that makes a difference.