How to Use Time Blocking to Stop Procrastinating and Relieve Stress

Do you catch yourself procrastinating a lot? It used to be a major problem for me before I started following the time blocking scheduling method.

Procrastination is one of those habits that is really hard to break.

Why do we procrastinate?

There are many reasons that we procrastinate. This New York Times Article argues that procrastination is about emotions.

A lack of focus or being a perfectionist can lead you to procrastinate as well.

Using procrastination as a way to temporarily relieve stress is one of the most common reasons that people put things off longer than they should.

That stress might come from a fear of failure, or just simply feeling like you don’t have enough energy or time to get everything done.

This article is going to dive into one of the methods of time management that has helped me become better at not procrastinating (or is it worse at procrastinating??).

Not enough time

Do you ever get stressed out because there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done that you want to?

You are not alone. According to the American Institute of Stress, the #1 cause of stress is job pressure due to work overload, bosses, or coworker tension.

77% of us regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress.

Can you believe that? More than 3 out of every 4 people are walking around with so much stress that they are having physical symptoms.

If you are someone who experiences stress due to an overloaded schedule, then the method of scheduling called Time Blocking might just be what you need to get out of your slump.

What is time blocking?

Time blocking is taking your calendar and breaking it down into chunks for you to plan every minute of your day.

You achieve this by dividing your day into smaller chunks of time, normally 30 minutes, and giving each chunk a label for what you will be working on.

Most of us just have an open ended to-do list that seems to continuously grow no matter how hard we work at it. Time blocking helps solve that never ending list by putting it in a window of time to complete.

Time Blocking Calendar
Here is an example of using time blocking within Google Calendars.

Why does time blocking work?

I think all of us remember doing those big presentations in High School.

It would be an end of the year presentation in front of the whole class. The teacher would tell you about it 3-4 months ahead of time.

But you would wait until the night before to actually put a lot of effort in to getting it finished. I know I’m not the only one who did that!

There is something known as Parkinson’s law that explains this better:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”

Cyril Northcote Parkinson 

If you believe this law, then it doesn’t matter how much time you are given. You are going to use it all.

That’s why scheduling your day using time blocking works so well.

You’re giving yourself allotted periods of time using a time blocking template to get everything done that you want to.

If your work fills that time, then that’s OK, because you planned it that way.

How does time blocking stop procrastination?

Time blocking is one of the best methods for helping you overcome procrastination for multiple reasons:

  1. We are bad at estimating how long tasks actually take
  2. We get caught up in the whirlwind of a day, and forget to do what’s really important
  3. We don’t schedule creative time into a day, so our brains don’t have time to recharge
  4. We get burnt out from stress

Using time blocking scheduling for your day can help with all of these things.

Benefits of time blocking

  • It becomes much easier to estimate how long tasks will take as you practice.
  • You’re able to remember what’s important because you write it down and put it in a block of time.
  • You can schedule creative time into any chunk of your day that you wish.
  • Your stress levels will lower because you aren’t constantly looking for the next thing to do. You already know what to do because it’s on your schedule.

One of the biggest advantages of time blocking is that you give yourself permission to say no to things that aren’t scheduled.

This helps when someone asks you to do something, but you don’t have the time. You can simply show them your calendar and explain how you’ve carefully planned your day.

Time Blocking Template

If you use a digital calendar like Google Calendars, then you can pretty easily fit time blocking on to that platform.

If you prefer to go with a hard copy, you can sign up below for a PDF of time blocking template to be emailed to you!

Time Blocking Template
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Using Time Blocking to Increase Productivity

Time blocking can also help you stop procrastinating by using your natural productivity cycle.

We all have natural energy cycles throughout the day. Time block scheduling can help you identify the times of day that you are the most energetic and creative.

You can schedule your most complicated work during the hours that you are going to perform best.

And you can schedule your twitter or instagram time into blocks where you know you’re naturally inclined to have low energy.

I’m too busy to Time Block!

If you think that you don’t have enough time to create a time blocking schedule for yourself, then you need it more than you know!

A lot of us work in very reactionary environments. You have phone calls and emails bombarding you all day. You just don’t know how you’ll ever find the time to start scheduling your day this way.

I’ve been there.

It is hard to implement this at first. Especially if people are used to you responding to them instantly when they email or send you a message.

But they will get used to it. You will get used to it. You’re going to be less stressed, more productive, and less likely to procrastinate.

You’ll have dedicated time each day to react to every message, email, and phone call. You can set aside an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. It is totally up to you!

This method of time management is great for people who need more structure in their lives.

There are other time management techniques out there that you can use in tandem with time blocking. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish when you follow a plan.

Wrapping it up

Time blocking is a scheduling technique that can help you procrastinate less and have less stress.

Time blocking is segmenting your calendar into chunks, and planning what you will do during those allotted times.

Using the time blocking method will take some practice. You will have to find what works best for you.

You will procrastinate less when you block off your time because you will have less stress about what you need to get done. There will be plenty of time to get it all done because you will be the one who decides when to work on it.

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve tried time blocking or have another method that works better to keep you from procrastinating!

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