Time blocking is the productivity hack that is missing from your day. If you aren’t scheduling your tasks in your calendar you are most likely being reactive instead of being proactive.
Blocking time on your schedule does take time, but with some smart technology, you can automate the task of time blocking or simplify it greatly.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking or calendar blocking is the act of scheduling items from your master task list into your calendar. It helps you to set priorities and see the reality of the time you have available. It was talked about in the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. Time blocking works because you are focused on one task at a time and can plan to be detraction free.
When to plan your day and time block?
One thing that holds people back from time blocking is it feels too rigid. Rember if your priorities shift you can shift your time blocks. Plans generally are not set in stone. I use Pilot Frixion Erasable Pens when planning on paper.
With that in mind, plan when it feels right to you. I like to plan weekly and then review my plans the day before to see if I need to adjust anything. Some people like to plan for their day that morning. There is no right or wrong. Just make sure you schedule your planning time on your calendar.
If I’m scheduling my blocks by hand I would plan for at least 20 minutes. It might not take that long or it may take a little longer. Plan for at least 20 and then you can make adjustments after you have had a few planning sessions.
What are the best apps to automate time blocking?
There are many time blocking apps out there. The best include a task scheduler and will auto-schedule and automate your time blocking. Most apps will sync with your Google Calendar or Outlook 365. While some of the apps have a free version they really shine with their premium subscriptions.
Without further ado, here are..
The 4 BEST Timblocking Apps
Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android
By far the most accessible of the apps. No matter your platform SkedPal has a version for you. I have been using SkedPal desktop and don’t know how I ever got anything done without it. I like it so much that the link I proved is an affiliate link. If you sign up for SkedPal we will both get 10% off.
My favorite feature of SkedPal is the time map function. The time maps allow you to truly schedule items to the times of day you would prefer to get a particular type of task done.
You can import your tasks from Google tasks or any to-do list app that has an export function. You then assign a priority to the tasks and a time map. Using the information you have supplied SkedPal sets to work scheduling your day.
Web, iOS, Android
While this app won’t auto-schedule your tasks it does compare your estimated time to the actual time you spend working on a task. It does allow for project management by assigning tasks to the appropriate category.
There are plenty of integrations including Zapier, Trello, Google Calendar and Office 365. I think my favorite integration is with Trello. I love Trello when working with teams and collaborating.
There is no place to keep a master task list in HourStack, but you can add blocks to your schedule. I also wish you could align the blocks with the time of day. It is definitely a handy tool if you know how much time you have allocated in your day for focused work.
Web, Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Chrome, Firefox, watchOS
TickTick is available on 10 platforms making it accessible to almost everyone no matter the device you use. I love how easy it is to drag and drop tasks from the sidebar into your calendar.
One feature that stands out is the Pomodoro Timer feature making it great for those who utilize this popular time management technique.
You are able to manage projects with lists and even track the time spent on tasks. This is a great tool to allow you to see how much time a take actually takes.
Web, iPhone, Android, Mac
Time Hero like SkedPal truly automates time blocking. You can import tasks and quickly batch add tasks. The user interface is very intuitive and easy to navigate.
One feature that really stands out is the ability to link tasks so they are done in the proper order. I also like that you have the ability to set work hours so tasks aren’t being scheduled at all hours of the night.
With integrations for Outlook and Google calendar Time Hero will base your tasks around your already scheduled events.
Time Hero is also great for teams. Incorporating reporting and scheduling based on team schedules.
There are many different apps out there to help you plan and schedule your tasks. My favorite is SkedPal and I will be signing up for the annual subscription at the end of my trial.
Which one will you try?
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