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Blocking out Time

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  • Blocking out Time

    Does anyone actually block time out throughout the day? i.e

    9.00 - 9.30 Emails
    9.30 - 10.30 Invoicing

    Etc, etc

    Does it work with GTD?

    I can't remember whether it's addressed in the book or not.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Foxman View Post
    Does anyone actually block time out throughout the day? i.e

    9.00 - 9.30 Emails
    9.30 - 10.30 Invoicing

    Etc, etc

    Does it work with GTD?

    I can't remember whether it's addressed in the book or not.
    I do block out time when I need to. It's my way of keeping the incoming world held back for a bit. The most important block of time is for your weekly review. Once that's in order everything else is easier.

    Not sure if there's anything in the book. The GTD Connect conversations on weekly reviews certainly mention it. There is a great example near the end of a business traveller who had a lot of input from an extended trip but didn't have the time to process it all until it was suggested by his coach to block the processing time into his diary. That was a key example for me.

    If you do your emails every morning I wonder if blocking time helps. Likewise for invoicing. I prefer to know I have to do invoicing today and then fit it in around any meetings that are already scheduled. If I don't think I'll get there once I look at my calendar I'll block in time then.

    David

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    • #3
      Of course. It's just one of the instruments you can use.

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      • #4
        In the book there's a bit where it says which criteria you should use for choosing what to do next. You're meant to look at your context, available resources, available time and your personal energy levels in that moment. Taking those things into account, you review your lists and make an intuitive decision about what to do. Blocking out time means you will have time available and I assume you're generally in front of your computer during that time too, so the context is right. So assuming your energy levels are right for dealing with emails in the morning then the blocking off would probably work quite well for you.

        One of the reasons in GTD why you don't just fill your calendar with NAs to be done on particular days is that you don't know if the situation will be right for doing a particular NA at a certain time, and you don't know what's going to pop up. I don't block off time for dealing with emails, but my morning routine is to check for anything urgent, get my inbox to zero (updating my lists as needed), then review my lists and choose what to do next.

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        • #5
          I think it's a great idea, and I recommend it to clients. There's a nice article here, FYI: Taking Control of Your Days with a Time Map. Uses: Block out project or reading time, and time to process results of meetings and travel.

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          • #6
            Make time for important work, not routine

            Blocking out time for projects, aka scheduling a meeting with yourself, is necessary for a lot of people to make progress on their most important projects. I also know that some people routinely observe a "quiet hour" or "planning and solitude" and find it helpful. However, if you have a job that requires serious mental horsepower at times, don't squander your best hours on email and routine paperwork. For most people, routine stuff is best done in between the important stuff. If you know that the most important, most engaging things are under control and on track, you are more likely to easily handle routine matters effectively and efficiently at other times. On the other hand, if you schedule time for routine stuff, especially early in the morning, it is likely to drag you down- your brain knows you have more important things to do.

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            • #7
              I don't recall time-blocking being recommended in the GTD book. In fact, I recall that the calendar is described as sacred territory only for "hard landscape" items that must occur at that time or on that day or not get done at all. That would go against the idea of time-blocking.

              Everything that is not "hard landscape" should be accomplished "as soon as possible" and chosen from among the various options according to the decision models described in the book.

              I think that is closer to a pure GTD method, but as always, the methods are flexible and if you find time-blocking helps you, then you should do it. I would just try to minimize it so you don't clutter your calendar with non-hard-landscape items and go numb to your calendar, or possibly miss doing something more important from your NA list.

              Comment


              • #8
                The only formal time management training I've had was a two-day Priority Management Systems seminar I signed up for a couple decades ago. We were trained to list all of the tasks we wanted or needed to complete in a day, prioritize them, estimate how much time we would need to complete them, and then schedule blocks of time for individual tasks or groups of tasks on our calendars. I discovered two things:

                No day has sufficient hours in which to fit the blocks of time necessary to complete all of the tasks that I want or need to complete.

                My most productive days tend to be those days when I schedule blocks of time to work on those things that need to get done.

                I started using Outlook 2007 two or three weeks ago and one thing I especially like about it is the ease with which I can block out time on the weekly calendar for different activities.

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                • #9
                  Until recently I worked for a firm that blocked out what was called "quiet time" for a couple of hours each morning which allowed all members of staff (about 50 of us) to have some time each day where we did not have any interruptions from other staff and, where possible, from clients. Clients were advised by reception that the requested staff member was unavailable unless the matter was urgent - ie could not wait to be dealt with after the 'quiet time' period had finished.

                  This practice allowed all staff to have a couple of hours to themselves to put their head down and concentrate on getting through some of those 'need to focus on' actions (whether big or small).

                  We had a number of younger staff just starting on their professional careers and although not really a GTD practice it essentially forced all staff to think about what their NA's were for the day and how to best use the day - what could they do without the input of others, what input did they need from others prior to being able to do their tasks etc.

                  The practice seemed to work well

                  Take Care

                  Kim

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                  • #10
                    Yes, by all means, I think it is helpful to block out time for particular projects. I do it all the time to make sure that I move forward stuff on all of my context lists. For instance, I really don't like making phone calls, so I'll block out 30-60 minutes of time where I do nothing but make phone calls. Or I might tentatitively schedule the 7-8 pm hour to take care of stuff on my home list. The discipline really helps.

                    I think GTDers sometimes misinterpret the mantra "the calendar is sacred territory" - as if one can't be creative with one's tools. Whipping up a quick daily schedule, as far as I see it, has little to do with the hard landscape of the calendar. Indeed, the book strongly recommends making lists on the fly - and that is the way I see my daily schedule. I'll jot down a list of hours (on a separate sheet of paper from the calendar) and then tentatively block out time - knowing, of course, that my plans will likely change. I surely don't think it's "pure" GTD to use only the calendar, the context lists, and nothing else. A quick and dirty hourly schedule is a good tool to help you use your lists.
                    Last edited by madalu; 05-30-2007, 05:36 AM.

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