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How to Use Time-Blocking for Productivity

time blocking

One of the most common responses I hear when someone looks at my calendar is “whoa.” I get it – my calendar looks a little crazy.  I’ve got more colors on it than a kid’s unicorn cake and almost every hour of my day is scheduled.  But for me, the concept of time blocking has revolutionized the way I plan my day.  Time blocking helps ensure I am intentional about how I spend my time, especially as the owner of a rapidly growing business.

How to Time Block Your Calendar

Time blocking requires a bit of preparation.  I set a weekly appointment with myself to plan my week – usually Saturday or Sunday morning.  I like to spend 30-60 minutes reviewing the week ahead and color-coding my events.  I add literally everything I have to do to my calendar – this process helps me be real with myself and what I have to accomplish (and the amount of time I have to accomplish it).  The color-coding allows me to visualize my days and helps me ensure I’m spending enough time on my business rather than in my business.  At a glance, I can see if certain activities are taking over (and if it is time to delegate).

Set Up a System

This is what my system looks like – set yours up with repeating blocks that make sense for you. 

Dark Purple time blocks are for administrative tasks, and I usually block two 30-45 minute time blocks for this each day. In the description of the calendar event, I make a list of administrative tasks I need to complete personally. 

  • This is time to check email, respond, or reach out to others.
  • This is also a good time to review what is on my to-do list that could be delegated and pass those tasks to my assistant or another team member.
  • I also like to add my admin tasks to the description in advance so when the admin block hits, I just start working on the list.

Lavender time blocks are for investing in my team and daily huddle meetings.

  • I want to make sure I don’t get so busy with my own to-dos that I am not connecting with my team, so I want to see a daily portion of my schedule showing up in lavender.
  • Many of these time blocks are one-to-ones with members of my corporate team or virtual coffee dates with my virtual assistant team.

Turquoise time blocks are used for working ON the business, not IN the business. As the CEO with growth plans, it’s critical that my week reflects at least 40% of my time focused on high ROI activities and planning for the future of my business. 

  • This category includes activities such as meeting with my executive team to review last month’s financials and our forecast, presenting a webinar, developing the company structure for 2024, or being interviewed on a podcast.

Related: How Women-Led, Values-Based Companies are Transforming Remote Work

Orange time blocks are similar to red in that these are focused on taking care of me. 

  • Orange is used for lunch, taking a walk with my dog in the midafternoon, or going to the chiropractor.

Light Green time blocks are for networking or nurturing existing relationships.

Dark Green time blocks are for one-to-one sales calls. (Which I recently delegated to my Client Success Team so I am not seeing dark green on my calendar now!)

Yellow time blocks are for personal errands or social events.

Pink time blocks indicate travel time such as driving to an appointment or flights.

Time blocking may seem restrictive to some, but I have found that this method ensures I work productively and complete my lengthy to-do list. The visual of a color-coded calendar gives me a true sense of what I’m doing with my time and if I need to step back and adjust to accomplish my long-term business and personal goals. The structure of time blocking ultimately gives me more control over my time and ensures I’m spending it in a way that matches my values. 

Amber Gray

Amber Gray is the founder and CEO of Trusty Oak, an Austin-based virtual assistant company providing administrative and marketing support to small business leaders, authors, and creative teams. A people-first approach to hiring, along with a scalable growth model have positioned Trusty Oak as a flexible, dependable, and affordable alternative to hiring administrative and marketing employees. In 2021 and 2022, Trusty Oak was named Freelancer Hiring Platform of the Year, and in 2021 Amber was recognized as Austin Business Woman of the Year.

Before founding Trusty Oak, Amber spent five years at a rapidly growing digital agency based in Austin, TX. Four of those years, she was responsible for hiring and leading both local and virtual teams while working closely with clients ranging from CEOs to bestselling authors to build their brand online. As VP of Operations, Amber helped lead the company’s growth to #15 on Austin Business Journal’s Fast50 List in 2014.

As a female founder and leader of a company that has quickly established a recognizably special culture within a non-traditional workforce, Amber has energized and empowered women from diverse professional and personal backgrounds to go against the grain of historically standard female roles in business, technology, and leadership. Trusty Oak provides an opportunity for experienced admin and marketing professionals to work independently as freelancers, but with a supportive internal network consisting of other ambitious and resourceful remote workers.

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