By Geoff Woods
All of us have the best of intentions when it comes to managing our time, but then life gets in the way. As we direct our attention to one task, texts, emails, calls, and social media notifications begin pouring in. Soon, we find ourselves in a cycle of respond, start, stop, respond.
Distractions Will Cost You
Research has found that these slivers of time add up – eliminating 28 percent of our day. Imagine if you could have these hours back in an instant. What would you do with 28 percent more time?
This is where time blocking comes in.
Gary Keller introduced me to the life-changing concept of time blocking when I moved to Austin, Texas, with my family three years ago. “It’s the one thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary,” he shared. The challenge is, when you say yes to someone or something else, what you are really saying no to is yourself and the goals you hold close.
Don’t allow distractions to hold you hostage. Reclaim your time by embracing the practice of time blocking. Here’s how!
Think Big. Go Small.
Through years of practice and work around The ONE Thing, I’ve learned that successful time blocking begins by going small. When I began, I made the mistake of trying to time block everything – even bathroom breaks. Consequently, when I missed the time block, I felt like a failure.
When it comes to time blocking, many of us are simply setting the bar too high and feel like a failure when we veer of track. Don’t beat yourself up, just readjust the bar. Think big and go small. Think big by having clarity on your priorities and aspiring to crush your distractions like it’s your day job. And go small, by focusing on controlling 5, 10 or 15 minutes of your day before working upward. Progress is more important than perfection.
Create the Right Environment for Success & Build a Bunker
I’ve also found that your environment must support your goals. Whatever your environment is – even if you’re in a cubicle – there is something that you can do that would allow your environment to further support that goal. As tempting as it may be, do not justify your inaction.
Determine what one thing you can proactively do for each type of distraction to eliminate it. Then do that while in your time block.
- Build a bunker. If you have an office with a door, close it. That’s your bunker. I don’t have an office, so I squat in conference rooms.
- Stock provisions. If you come out of your bunker, you’re going to get sniped. What are the things that bring you out? For me, it’s water and the bathroom. I’ve learned that before I go into a time block, I need to take care of mother nature, then stock up on water.
- Sweep for mines. You close the door, but there are mines everywhere just waiting to blow up in your face. Those mines are usually in the form of tech and other people. Sweep for them: is it your email inbox, the phone, or a customer calling you back?
- Enlist support. To succeed at time blocking, you must enlist the support of other people. One of the ways to do this is to let them know you’re going into the bunker and see if they need anything before you focus on your one thing.
The 66-Day Challenge®
Let me be clear about one thing: time blocking and battling distractions is uncomfortable until it becomes a habit. You must be willing to go on a very short-term journey, doing things that you may not like for an average of 66 days until it becomes a habit.
Why 66 days? In 2009, researchers at the University College of London found it takes on average 66 days to form a simple habit. To overcome distractions and succeed at time blocking, purposely set an intention and tell yourself, “I am going to go on a 66-Day Challenge® to making time blocking for five – or 10, 15 – minutes intentional.”
The longer you stick with it, the easier time blocking will become. In time, it becomes automatic – requiring little discipline or willpower.
Form your first power habit today:
About Geoff Woods
Geoff Woods is the vice president of The ONE Thing and hosts The ONE Thing Podcast, which is in the top 5 percent of all podcasts in the world.
After hearing the Jim Rohn quote that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” Geoff set out on a mission to surround himself with high-level CEOs and successful entrepreneurs. Fast forward just 10 months, and Geoff went from employee to entrepreneur, launching a company with the co-authors of the bestselling book The ONE Thing. Geoff has been featured on Entrepreneur.com and is on a mission to teach people how to take back control of their time and get clarity on how they want to invest it.