Like any time management strategy, time blocking is not without its own drawbacks & criticisms. Let’s look at a few and help you assess whether they’re significant enough for you to skip time blocking all together.
Time blocking takes time
The fact is, time blocking does take some level of time investment, especially in the beginning, and you might not have any time to spare right now. If that’s the case, you might prefer theme blocking instead. This strategy involves setting a focus for the day instead of by time block. This article will walk you through how to do it successfully.
Also, if you do have some, just not much, time to devote to time blocking, remember to start more general than you think you need to and don’t forget to follow the recommended steps listed above that starts with simply a hypothesis. Spending too much time on the plan, when you know you’ll need to update it, can be very discouraging, so start with success in mind by going general and flexible and optimizing from there!
You prefer to go with the flow
If you struggle to adhere to schedules in general and prefer to “go with the flow”, time blocking might not be your cup of tea – at first. People who describe themselves this way often like to enjoy their freedom and do not like being told what to do (and definitely not when to do it!), even by a calendar. If that’s you, I’m right there with you!
But what I, and many entrepreneur clients have found, is that if the ultimate goal is “spend more time doing what I want, when I want”, time blocking will actually help you achieve this goal because it helps you optimize the time you spend doing what you don’t want to – and we all have things we don’t want to do when it comes to running a business. With that said, you’ll want to be really careful to ensure you build in “blank” or “flexible” time blocks into your schedule. These blocks should allow you to go with the flow, but keep your flow from causing you to ditch your to do list completely.
You have a primarily reactionary situation
As an entrepreneur, our days don’t always fit neatly into blocks. Clients have emergencies, crucial deliveries are misrouted, technology picks that moment to fail, and, well, I probably don’t need to continue the list. While we entrepreneurs are thrown a variety of challenges regularly, it turns out you actually can expect the unexpected to some extent.
First, while some urgent items might not be able to wait even a few minutes, most actually can and part of running a business is aggressive prioritization. In other words, not everyone (or every fire) will be able to get your time at all times and sometimes, people will not like that. Hopefully, you’ve already set this type of expectation, and if so, the key here is to add reactionary time blocks into your day. For example, if you need to be on top of your inbox fairly frequently, maybe you can’t get away with checking your email once a day, but you can open your inbox once an hour, or every other hour, and limit it to a very short time block, while adding things that aren’t truly urgent to your “reply later” time block.
Another example of a reactionary situation is if you have kids or other dependents (elderly parents, etc.) who might need things urgently as well. And after all, what is entrepreneurial freedom if not the freedom to spend time on those we love, right? If this is you, carve out “urgency time blocks” (or whatever you’d like to call them) throughout your week. If your dependent tends to have an emergency every day, then every day. You’ll be able to plug them in throughout your week as needed this way, and if you don’t need them at all that week, be sure you have a running list of “to dos” you can accomplish during that time instead of handling the urgent situation. Likewise, if an urgent situation does occur, swap in the urgency block and swap out whatever other block you had scheduled.
Difficulty getting motivated when that time block starts
Maybe you are in a very creative industry or maybe you are very much a “flow” person. Once the “flow” hits, you want to ride it as far as it will take you, without being knocked out of it by a time blocking notification. And on the flip side, maybe your flow has taken a hiatus that day and when the <insert item here> time block rolls around, your brain simply cannot focus or get in the flow to make it happen…or at least not make that item happen.
There’s good news for you! Time blocks are not set in stone and once again, what is entrepreneurial freedom if not the ability to mold our schedule to our brains instead of forcing our brains to adapt to our schedule? With that said, our brains do tend to respond to routine. Studies show that routines have a significant effect on our brains (and vice versa) in aspects ranging from sleeping, eating, and exercising and this means that time blocking is a master method to optimize in a way that is aligned with our own biology.
This is why, when you develop the right routine for you, you’ll tend to get hungry when it’s eating time, get energized when it’s workout time, start waking up when it’s that time, and eyelids start getting heavy when bedtime is approaching – if your routines are dialed in.
So, if you’re new to time blocking, focus on finding the best time of day and during the week for the tasks you have BUT don’t change the blocks too quickly because your brains need time to adapt and create a routine around the time blocks too. Eventually, you might find that creativity really does start to hit daily at 10 am (or 10 pm as the case may be). Or, you might not. And if you’re experiencing more misses than hits, it might be time to tweak your time block routine and try a new hypothesis.
The Bottom Line.
While time blocking is used successfully by a variety of business owners and high-achieving individuals, it is important to think through all of the drawbacks and criticisms and how you might mitigate them.
Don’t forget to perform a weekly review and add buffer time to your blocks, especially in the beginning. Check out the Schedule Success System here for a weekly review template or make your own! But if your time blocks go off the rails almost immediately, remember that this is not a pass/fail situation. Adjust, update and try again. If you’re new to time blocking check out our step-by-step guide on how to get started with time blocking.
If you have any questions, drop a comment or join our off social media community: Doer Entrepreneurs Free Community.
Happy time blocking!
What to Read Next
- Article: What is Time Blocking? Get Started in 3 Steps
- Article: Time Blocking Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
Grab the free Ultimate Time Blocking Ebook here:
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Resources & References
- Article: Hate Rigid Schedules? Meet Your New Go-To Scheduling Method: Theme Blocking
- Free weekly review planner: Schedule Success System
- Study: Is daily routine important for sleep? An investigation of social rhythms in a clinical insomnia population
- Study: Meal Timing Regulates the Human Circadian System
- Study: Circadian Rhythm, Exercise, and Heart