Early in my career, my job required that I cold call prospects, establish relationships with new clients, and make sure existing clients received the best customer service they had ever experienced. The role also came with a caveat, management required 100 phone calls a day and 2-3 hours of talk time.
Sounds daunting? It was!
After about a month I was burned out and failing to meet the metrics. I dreaded going to work, but wanted to succeed at my job, I needed to make a change. I did some research and discovered something I had never heard of, time blocking. I decided to try it and let me tell you, looking back 15 years later...it was life-changing!
Time blocking has revolutionized the way I approach a day.
I can accomplish tasks faster. I do not feel guilt or overwhelm because I “did not have time”, and it has made all the difference in the successes I have enjoyed throughout my career.
Since those early days, I have encountered many followers of time blocking. It is funny, as soon as I mention it, either I am passionately sharing the information that has made time blocking work for me or I am learning tips on how to make time blocking better from a fellow expert.
Whether you have heard of time blocking before, tried it but stopped, or you are completely new to the idea. I would love to challenge you to add it to your daily schedule.
If you are ready to take back your time and finish the day feeling productive and happy, then here are 4 steps to building time blocking into your day.
HOURS IN THE DAY
Professionally, there are 8 hours in the workday, 9 if you have to take an hour for lunch. Divide those 8 hours and you have 4 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon.
I prefer to do what I call a 4X4 time block. Each of those 4 hours is labeled with a different goal. Then you repeat those same goals/4 hours in the afternoon.
Every hour has a 10-minute break built in to refresh your coffee, step outside for some fresh air, use the restroom, stretch your legs, etc. Self-care is key when time blocking, it prevents burnout. Please do not sit in a chair for 4 hours straight, get up and refresh your mind!
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
Each hour should be prioritized to the tasks that you must complete daily. Take inventory of what needs to happen every day.
Here is an example of a 4X4 Time Block
- Hour 1 - Prospecting Calls
- Hour 2 - Call Existing Clients/Follow-up on Sales Pipeline
- Hour 3 - In-person/Zoom Meetings, Webinars, Social Media
- Hour 4 - Administration Time
After the 4th hour, lunchtime! Then follow the same schedule again in the afternoon.
The 4X4 method allows you to handle the surprises that often arise with ease.
For example, if a client were to call in the middle of your prospecting time with a situation that needs to be addressed immediately, you can feel confident about dropping the prospecting calls to handle the problem because you will have another hour to focus on prospecting in the afternoon.
Another example, if a meeting were to run a little longer than it was planned...no problem! You can take care of the tasks you had scheduled for that hour in the afternoon.
The goal here is to get things done. Time blocking prevents overwhelm and banishes feeling behind.
This is when you handle emails, proposals, paperwork, thank you notes, etc.
Tasks are important, but they can be time-consuming, especially when you are trying to be efficient and make 100 phone calls. For example, when prospecting, you want to be in the zone, not breaking your focus to stop and send an email.
Here is a tip...keep a running record of tasks over the first 3 hours of your day and then do all the necessary follow-up during your administration time.
BOUNDARIES WITH TIME
Time blocking allows you to deliver when you say you are going to deliver. When you keep to the schedule you are able to approach the day organized, empowered, and in control.
Let’s say a client needs a proposal. Always ask if they need it immediately. Often, they will say no. In that case, confidently state that they will receive the proposal during the hour you have designated as administration time.
I cannot tell you how many clients will take notice that you indeed sent them the proposal at the time promised. This simple act builds trust with the client. They know you are consistent and diligent.
When you change up your day and put time blocking in effect, it will seem very foreign at first, but if you want to make a big change in your life and feel like you truly have all the time in the world both personally and professionally, then give time blocking a try.