Episode 033 – Time Blocking for Writers

This week I share with you the benefits of time blocking and how to implement it into your life. Get more done and keep all areas of your life ticking over with this simple but effective method of time management.

I hope you find this episode inspiring and helpful.

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Infographic summarising article content. Text reads:
Time Blocking for Writers
Organise schedules for writing, business tasks, and personal commitments
Provides clarity, efficiency, productivity, and stress reduction
Encourages prioritizing creative hours for writing
Balances business tasks, creative time, and leisure
Emphasizes flexibility in a structured schedule and digital tools for planning
Enhances work-life balance, focus, creativity, and satisfaction

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Welcome to Writer Roadmap, the podcast for writers seeking inspiration, guidance, and support on their creative journey. I’m your host, Holly Lyne. Last week we talked about writers block and in today’s episode, we’re diving into a productivity powerhouse—time blocking. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the juggling act of writing, managing your author business, and keeping up with personal commitments, then this strategy might just be your new best friend. Let’s break down how time blocking can transform chaos into a well-orchestrated symphony.

Time blocking isn’t a new concept, but it’s gained a lot of traction among successful writers and entrepreneurs for a good reason. It’s about dedicating specific blocks of time to different tasks or categories of tasks, making you the master of your schedule rather than its servant. So, how can we apply this to our writing lives? Let’s explore.

General Benefits of Time Blocking

Clarity and Direction: Time blocking clears the fog of the overwhelming question, “What should I do next?” By having a clear schedule, you know exactly what you’re supposed to be working on and when, which cuts down on procrastination and decision fatigue.

Efficiency and Productivity: By dedicating specific times to tasks, you minimize the transition time between activities and the temptation to multi-task, which is notoriously inefficient. This focused approach can lead to higher productivity and a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Whenever we switch between tasks, it can take us 15 minutes to an hour to shift our brain into focus on the new task. By blocking out significant chunks of time to dedicate to a specific task or type of tasks, we minimise those switches and become more efficient with our mental energy.

Stress Reduction: When every type of task has its time slot, you can stop worrying about when you’ll get to everything. This compartmentalization of your day can significantly reduce stress and anxiety, making it easier to be present with the task at hand. It can help to ensure that important things don’t slip through the cracks, which also reduces stress.

The Basics of Time Blocking

  1. Segment Your Day: Start by dividing your day into blocks dedicated to different activities. This could mean setting aside specific hours for writing, business-related tasks, and personal time. The key is consistency and intentionality.
  2. Make a note of any appointments: Make sure you’ve allocated travel time if you need to and include everything you need to do for family or your day job. For example, when I set up my monthly and weekly calendars, I ensure that all of my children’s home education activities go on first, along with medical appointments or anything else that is fixed for specific times.
  3. Prioritize Your Writing: As writers, it’s crucial that we prioritize our craft. Block off your most productive hours for writing. For many, this might be first thing in the morning when the mind is fresh and distractions are few. For you, it might be afternoon or evening. If you don’t know yet when you have the most creative energy, try writing at different times of the day and keeping a record of how you get on. Once you have data, you can decide when your prime writing time is.
  4. Business Hours: Allocate specific blocks for managing the business side of writing—marketing, emails, social media, and so on. This ensures that these necessary tasks get done but don’t encroach on your creative time.
  5. Leisure: Finally, and importantly, schedule downtime! Make sure you’re allowing space in your day to exercise, read, connect with loved ones or whatever else is important to you.

Making Time Blocking Work for You

Flexibility Within Structure: While time blocking provides structure, it’s important to remain flexible. Some tasks will take more or less time than you anticipate. Adjust your blocks as needed, but always aim to return to your planned structure. If you consistently find yourself shifting blocks around, take a realistic view of your schedule and adjust it to ensure that you are giving each activity the time it needs. If there aren’t enough hours in the day, you will need to remove something from your plate. This might be hard to hear, but it’s important not to keep overloading yourself. That way leads to burnout. I don’t want you to burn out. So put something down, please.

Use Tools: Utilize calendars, apps, or planners that support time blocking. Digital calendars are especially useful for setting recurring blocks and reminders.

Batch Similar Tasks: Group similar tasks together to maximize efficiency and focus. For example, dedicate a block to all social media activity instead of checking it intermittently throughout the day. If you can, use a scheduling app to post for you if you’re using a strategy that relies on posting multiple times per day. Then schedule one time block to check and reply to comments and commenting on other people’s posts. As another example of batching, I’m writing this podcast episode as part of a batch of episodes for the month! I do all the writing back to back, then all the recording, then all the editing and so on. You could do the same with creating images for social media, writing captions, composing newsletters and so on. We can batch-produce all sorts of tasks and it can be an incredibly efficient way to get things done. It just requires a touch of advanced planning. If that’s not right for you, then that’s fine, set aside time each day instead.

The Benefits for Writers

  • Enhanced Focus: By dedicating specific times to write, you can minimize distractions and enter a deeper state of focus, making your writing sessions more productive.
  • Better Work-Life Balance: Time blocking helps ensure that there’s a time for everything, reducing the risk of work bleeding into personal time and vice versa.
  • Increased Creativity: With your mind at ease knowing that all aspects of your life have their allotted time, you can free up mental space for creativity to flourish.

Navigators, time blocking might just be the strategy you need to manage the multifaceted demands of being a writer in today’s world. By giving every task its time and place, we can reduce stress, enhance productivity, and maybe even find some extra moments for ourselves. Embracing time blocking can transform not just how much you write, but how you feel about your writing and your life. It’s about making intentional choices with your time, ensuring that what matters most to you gets the space it deserves in your life.

As we close today’s episode, I encourage you to think about how you can apply time blocking to not just improve your productivity, but also enhance your overall satisfaction with your writing and your life.

If you’ve had success with time blocking, or if you’re planning to give it a try, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Join us on Patreon at patreon.com/hollylyne and share your story with our community.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Writer Roadmap, and share this episode with fellow writers who might be searching for a better way to manage their time. Until next time, keep writing, keep planning, and keep navigating your path with purpose and precision.

Writer Roadmap intro and outro music used under license from Pixabay. Music track “Salangseuleoun” was Created by “Dayfox”.

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