Time-Blocking for Beginners:

Ross Macfarlane
December 16, 2022

In the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workplace, one golden rule prevails: either you master your schedule, or it masters you.

How can you gracefully juggle meetings, emails, team chats, and "busy work" while still making time for the passions that drive you? While we can't all escape into digital solitude, we can embrace practical strategies to thrive in a world brimming with distractions.

Introducing the life-changing power of time blocking!

Time-blocking is an elegantly simple yet remarkably effective way to regain control of your workday.

Embrace time-blocking if you want to:

  • Break free from the shackles of "reactive mode" by reducing time spent on emails and messages.
  • Seamlessly integrate meetings into your day without compromising productivity.
  • Vanquish constant interruptions that throw your day off track.
  • Carve out precious time and mental space for big-picture thinking and strategising.

The secret sauce to time-blocking lies in working on tasks one at a time.

Instead of sporadically working through tasks from a to-do list, you simply assign tasks to specific blocks of time, working on that task and ONLY that task for the set period. Once the time is up you move onto the next block of time, and repeat this throughout the day. Once the day is done, you simply reschedule any unfinished tasks to new time-blocks the next day, as well as any new ones that have emerged.

With your day meticulously time blocked in advance, you can bid farewell to the constant dilemma of what to focus on. Simply adhere to your pre-planned schedule, and watch your productivity soar. If you ever find yourself veering off course or succumbing to distractions, just glance at your schedule and effortlessly return to the task at hand.

Though seemingly straightforward, the time blocking technique has a profound impact on your ability to accomplish tasks with ease.

It promotes focused 'deep work'
Cal Newport, renowned author of "Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World," is an ardent advocate of time blocking. He devotes 20 minutes each evening to meticulously plan out the following workday.

“Sometimes people ask why I bother with such a detailed level of planning. My answer is simple: it generates a massive amount of productivity. A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.”

When you allocate a dedicated time block to tackle a single project, problem, or task, you harness all of your mental prowess to concentrate on one objective instead of diluting your focus across multiple tasks. The more you practice "single tasking," the stronger your mental muscles become, enabling you to easily maintain focus and achieve deep work.

It enables you to complete "shallow work" more effectively:
Shallow work consists of urgent but less important tasks, like paperwork or most emails. Time blocking these tasks sets clear time limits and groups similar tasks, reducing context-switching costs. This allows you to complete them efficiently, leaving more time for high-impact work.

It helps you understand the way you spend your time:
Many struggle with time management and overcommitting. Time blocking makes you prioritise and intentionally manage time. It highlights the opportunity cost of new commitments, making it easier to say "no."

It eliminates the temptation to multi-task:
By allocating specific time slots for individual tasks, it encourages focused attention on one task at a time. This approach minimises distractions and context switching, thereby increasing productivity and the quality of work.

It helps you follow through on your goals:
Researchers Rogers and Milkman found that making concrete plans, including specific places, dates, and times, helps people follow through on their intentions, from exercising to getting a flu shot. However, many rely on vague intentions instead.

“Paradoxically, people frequently underplan when they begin with strong intentions. They mistakenly believe that their strong intentions are enough to propel them to perform desired behaviors, and that belief keeps them from using strategies that could help translate intentions into actions.”

The key point: Scheduling tasks and goals increases your chances of following through. Time blocking helps create concrete plans, ensuring daily progress towards your goals. As William Faulkner once said:

“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes at nine every morning.”

But will time-blocking work with your job?

Time blocking is criticised for not accommodating reactive jobs with unpredictable tasks. However, even minimal control over your schedule can be beneficial, regardless of your job, as Cal Newport suggests:

“Periods of open-ended reactivity can be blocked off like any other type of obligation. Even if you’re blocking most of your day for reactive work, for example, the fact that you’re controlling your schedule will allow you to dedicate some small blocks (perhaps at the schedule periphery) to deeper pursuits.”

Time blocking helps maintain focus on personal goals and offers a sense of control, even in unpredictable schedules.

Time-blocking with Yoodoo

Yoodoo's Time-Block planner

You can implement time blocking with a simple pen and paper, but the most effective way to do it is with specialised time-blocking apps like Yoodoo. It's the perfect ADHD planning app for all things time blocking and getting stuff done.

Step 1:
First identify the tasks that need to be accomplished by adding them to Yoodoo's to-do list. You can quickly prioritise them by adding them to 'essentials' or 'nice-to-do's'.

Step 2:
Next you want to assign the most important ones to time-blocks. The calendar view on Yoodoo (the Timeline) is cleverly split into hourly time-blocks. Simply tap on a block to quickly assign a task from your list, or create a new one. Use the standard 1hr duration, or shorten or lengthen it it to whatever you like, the blocks will update accordingly.

Step 3:
Decide how much flexible time you want to include in your schedule. It's important to leave room for unplanned tasks and surprises that come up. Something to consider is downtime for lunch breaks, time spent on social media and other bits that would otherwise distract you.

Step 4:
Once you're ready to start, just follow the timeline and work through each task one by one until the next one starts, or the current one is done. The current task is always highlighted in blue, so you always know what you need to be working on.

For an extra productivity boost, simply use the apps focus timer feature to transform your phone into a countdown timer that keeps you on task. This also doubles up as an anti-distraction tool to prevent yourself from needlessly using your phone. Clever.

By consistently using the Yoodoo app to time-block and plan your day, you'll enjoy increased focus, enhanced productivity, and a greater sense of control over your schedule.

If you're someone who's struggling with ADHD, then the time blocking planner app Yoodoo is the app for you. It's a smart daily planner app that organizes your tasks on a visual timeline to help you focus, save time and get things done.

It's totally free to get started. Give it try.


Receive the latest Yoodoo productivity tips & updates.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.