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How to Use Time Blocking to Be More Productive: A Guide for Freelancers

  • By Hanson Cheng
  • April 19, 2021

Being on top of things and having perfect productivity is a dream of every freelancer.

But accomplishing that during the Covid-19 pandemic is way more challenging than it used to be. We must work from home, which makes slacking off a lot easier. Unfortunately, that can hurt performance, lead to poor results and sabotage your career.

In this article, we’ll look at the 10 time blocking ways to supercharge your productivity and stay on top of your game.

What Is Time Blocking?

Time blocking is scheduling your work into smaller chunks – time blocks.

Using this approach will allow you to get an outline of your day, keep you on track, and lead to higher productivity. It takes away all the guesswork and thinking about what tasks you should do next.

That way, you focus only on the things that matter and waste no time. No wonder it’s used by the most successful people like Elon Musk and Bill Gates.

It gives you better clarity, minimizes distractions, and creates a sense of control.

Let’s now discover actionable steps you can take to implement it into your workflow.

#1 Outline What Tasks Need to Be Done

Planning beforehand will save you lots of headaches and make the execution of time blocking a lot easier.

Visualize your usual workday and write down all the tasks you do regularly. Your list can look like the one below:

  1. Replying to emails
  2. Reaching out to other businesses
  3. Creating blog posts
  4. Promoting blog posts on social media
  5. Team meetings

After you got all of that listed out, it’s time to include other less important tasks you do every day, like commuting to work or eating.

Once you have that, it’s time to divide it into shallow and deep work.

#2 Understand Shallow & Deep Work

When it comes to time blocking, there are two types of tasks you can do.

Deep work is highly focused on tasks that help you move to your goals and directly impact your business’s success. If you are a marketer, this can include CRM, marketing automation, and producing content.

Shallow work focuses on tasks that are urgent but not important. This includes things such as responding to emails and communicating with your team.

If you look at your schedule, you should make sure you spend most of your time on deep work and devote only a tiny portion of your time to shallow work.

If you do a lot of shallow work, don’t worry, we’ll look at ways to minimize it later.

#3 Estimate the Time It Takes to Finish

Just because you want to look clean and professional, doesn’t mean you have to use the same freelance proposal template every time with zero changes. 

Here are a few ways you could consider customizing the look of your proposal while still keeping it professional:

  • Adjust colors to match your brand or your client’s brand.
  • Add your client’s logo next to yours for a more personalized approach.
  • Start with a custom salutation and name-drop of your client contact.

2. Focus on pain-points with matching solutions.

Estimating the time each task takes can be very difficult, especially in the beginning. An easy way to figure it out is to use remote work software with time tracking.

It works similarly to a stopwatch and will let you know how much time you spend working.

It’s one of the best ways to estimate the time each task takes. (here are a few of the best solutions.)

You should also make sure that you add a little bit more time than the time the actual task takes. This is to prevent disrupting your time blocks because of surprises and unexpected things that can come up. 

It will also prevent you from being stressed because of a lack of time.

#4 Create a Schedule

You have a list of tasks, and you’ve assigned a time to each one of them. You should now add them to your calendar and create a schedule.

Ideally, it would be best if you started with the most important tasks as soon as possible.

This is because you have the most energy in the morning, and your willpower is at its peak. 

Obviously, some tasks have a fixed place like lunch or breakfast – you won’t be eating lunch at 5 o’clock.

You can use the basic Calendar app for scheduling or choose other time blocking apps. 

#5 Outsource Unimportant Tasks

Examine your schedule and spot unimportant tasks that only take your time.

After you identify them, you should answer one simple question – “Is it worth my time?” And if your answer is no, you should outsource them.

For instance, let’s say that creating social media posts, responding to comments, and promoting posts takes you around 5 hours a week. That is a lot of time you could use on more important things.

And so, you should outsource these tasks to a social media manager.

It will save you time and help you focus on the things that matter. Do the same with all other unimportant tasks like answering emails or setting up appointments.

#6 Make Time for Breaks

Don’t put one task after another with no breaks.

Working non-stop won’t get you anywhere and will only decrease your productivity. Make sure to reward yourself for your hard work with a break after each time block.

This doesn’t have to be long. It can take anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes.

Taking breaks will help you stay on track, have better motivation, and feel less tired. Just make sure you don’t rest for too long, or you risk resting more than working.

#7 Utilize Pomodoros

You shouldn’t take breaks only after time blocks but also during them.

Let’s say you’re a marketer creating a sales funnel. This can be very tricky because you have to create your buyer’s persona, use the right funnel software solution to build up the landing page, and optimize it to get as many sales as possible.

But working on it a whole day non-stop is very ineffective. It’s a lot better to use Pomodoro.

Pomodoro is a method for keeping you as productive as possible by dividing your work into smaller, 25-minute chunks. After each session, you have a 5-minute break, and then you continue working.

This makes you work on 120% because you are the most focused while working. And after you lose your focus after 25 minutes, you have a break where you recharge.

This is a small addition to time blocking that can make a big difference. For instance, if you have a time block where you work for 150 minutes, divide it into 6 Pomodoros and get things done faster.

I guarantee you that despite the 5-minute breaks, you get more work done faster.

#8 Create Time For Learning

Working hard is essential, but you should also think about moving ahead in your life.

You don’t want to be working till you’re ninety, right? That’s why you should start looking for passive income ideas and make money work for you.

One of the best ways to accomplish that is by starting investing in gold or cryptocurrency. And the easiest way to do that is with IncomeInsider. It’s a site that helps beginners start with investing and diversifying their income.

It’s one of the best ways to learn about investing and start it with minimal risk.

This step is crucial because, after a few years of working, you can burn out. Having a side income from investing will help you prevent that and make your time blocking a lot more bearable.

#9 Schedule a Catch-Up Day

Not every day is perfect, and you’ll surely experience unexpected situations at some point. You can have the perfect plan that counts with situations like this. But what if your internet connection or electricity gets turned off?

You get way behind your schedule, and there will be no time for catching up.

That’s precisely why you should reserve a day for catching up. It will allow you to prevent feeling stressed and help you stop worrying about missing deadlines.

And in case you are all caught up, you can use this day to reward yourself with no work.

#10 Work on Your Craft

You should always strive to improve your craft and get the same amount of work done faster. You can easily accomplish that by improving your skills with online courses. (here are our best picks)

You should always strive to improve your craft and get the same amount of work done faster. You can easily accomplish that by improving your skills with online courses. (here are our best picks)

They’ll help you find out the newest trends and methods for working more efficiently.

Make sure to reserve time for that in your schedule and add at least two 60-minute time blocks for learning each week.

#11 Bonus Tip: Use The Newest Technologies

Technology is moving at a rapid pace.

You should make sure that you’ve adapted to the newest trends and your workflow is as efficient as possible. It won’t help you with time blocking per se, but it will reduce the time it takes you to finish work.

You can then get ahead faster and gain a competitive edge.

For instance, let’s say you’re a marketer sending sales proposals. Doing that manually for each of your clients would be a pain in the ass. It’s much better to use sales proposal software and automate everything.

Remember, the whole time blocking isn’t about working harder, rather smarter.

Ready to Pump Up Your Productivity?

Maximizing productivity and working as effectively as possible is hard, especially when working remotely.

In this article, you’ve discovered time blocking, a useful method used by the most successful people to stay on top of their games.

We’ve gone over 11 ways to apply it to your workflow to help you get things done faster.

Use it to your advantage, stand out from other freelancers and get your business to the next level. The best time to start using it is now.

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