Plan Out Your Day Productively With The ‘Time Blocking’ Method

Plan Out Your Day Productively With The ‘Time Blocking’ Method

One of the best ways to stay productive is by managing your time appropriately. This method of scheduling your day keeps you focused while allowing for revisions and explanatory notes.

We love scheduling and planning with our gadgets at Lifehacker, but what’s great about this technique is that you only need some paper and a writing utensil. Cal Newport, creator of the Study Hacks Blog and author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, plans every one of his days with what he calls “time blocking” using two simple columns:

In the left column, I dedicated two lines to each hour of the day and then divided that time into blocks labelled with specific assignments. In the right column, I add explanatory notes for these blocks where needed… I leave some extra room next to my time blocks. This allows me to make corrections as needed if the day unfolds in an unexpected way. I take time blocking seriously, dedicating ten to twenty minutes every evening to building my schedule for the next day. During this planning process I consult my task lists and calendars, as well as my weekly and quarterly planning notes. My goal is to make sure progress is being made on the right things at the right pace for the relevant deadlines.

Newport likens “time blocking” to a chess game he plays against his projects at the end of each day. Think of this as secondary to your calendar. You’re planning out more than your day, you’re planning out your focus.

The trick is sticking to what you’ve blocked out and blocking off open-ended time periods if you think you’ll need it. To stay focused, Newport also recommends some non-distracting music and defining your tasks using Steve Pavlina’s seven rules for maximising creative output. Check out the link below to learn more about “time blocking”.

Deep Habits: The Importance of Planning Every Minute of Your Work Day [Study Hacks Blog]


  • Using this while sorting your work as important or imperative is a great way to ensure you’re getting through the day productively.

    I find I always have to allow time for firefighting – generally some time before lunch and then some time before I head home. If you block out that time to work on issues and advertise this then people get to know when they can trouble you for help.

  • I do the same sort of thing, but I use my Outlook calendar. The explanatory notes, if required, go in the body, and things are colour coded (sales, marketing, billable client time, personal, etc).

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