From the moment you wake up to the moment your head hits the pillow at night, entrepreneurs spend their days jumping from task to task with no end in sight. With a to-do list that feels like it’s never ending, it can be hard for business professionals to achieve balance within their work week while still feeling like they are on top of their game. Although grinding 60 hours a week may help you feel accomplished for a little while, the fact of the matter is, you WILL experience burnout, fatigue and exhaustion. As a business owner, you have to take control of your day and have working systems in place in order to protect not only your mental health, but your business as a whole.
One of the best ways to achieve a better work-life balance is by learning how to use time blocking. Time blocking is perfect for those who:
Juggle many different projects/responsibilities
Spend too much time in “reactive mode”, aka responding to emails and messages
Find their day chopped up by meetings
Battle constant interruptions throughout the day
Struggle to find the time and mental space for big-picture thinking
Time blocking is a simple strategy that focuses on segmenting your day into defined chunks of time. For example, instead of checking your email throughout the day and interrupting your tasks as soon as a new one comes in, you would block off 8:00-8:30 am for managing your inbox. This will prevent multitasking and interruptions from disrupting your workflow throughout the day. As a result, you’ll fly through your to-do list and increase your productivity.
Although multi-tasking may seem like a great way to accomplish a lot during a smaller window of time, it actually decreases your overall productivity. There have been numerous scientific studies that warn against the negative effects of multitasking. A few of these facts include:
Studies show that the human brain can’t handle more than one task at a time. Even though we think we’re multitasking, our brains are actually switching rapidly between tasks. (The Myth of Multitasking. Scientific America. 2009, July.)
Only 2.5% of the population actually process tasks simultaneously. (James Watson of the University of Utah)
In a study of Microsoft employees, workers took on average, 15 minutes to get back to intense mental tasks, like writing reports or computer code, after responding to emails or instant messages. (New York Times)
It actually takes more time to get things done when you try to multitask. People who are interrupted – and therefore have to switch their attention back and forth – take 50% longer to accomplish a task. (John Medina, Brain Rules)
Multitaskers make up to 50% more errors. (John Medina, Brain Rules)
Time blocking guards against multitasking by ensuring that you are placing 100% of your focus and energy into one task at a time, therefore resulting in a much higher quality of work. Time blocking also helps you:
Fight against procrastination
Balance urgent tasks
Become more realistic when scheduling your day
Achieve more tasks in less time
Most importantly, this will encourage self care, mental health and work-life balance. When time blocking your schedule, it’s essential to schedule in work breaks. While it may be tempting to block off every single hour of the work day, that actually ends up being counterproductive. Add some flexibility into your schedule by leaving some empt times throughout the day. Use these blocks to take a walk, meditate, chat with a loved one or take a coffee break. These short breaks are essential to your mental well being and will help you accomplish more in the long run.