A powerful principle to apply to your efforts to manage your time and prioritize is to pre block time spaces for specific things. We teach this as a part of an effective schedule in the business world and it applies to a personal life, as well. In fact, this is what I discussed earlier this week to put into practice with making time for your children.
What does pre-blocking mean and how can it be beneficial to you?
Pre-blocking means that you look at your month, week or day and determine when you are going to focus your undivided attention on a particular project. Reflect back on the two previous blogs regarding prioritization: the 6 things to do list and the 80-20 rule (Pareto Rule). Now that you have determined priorities from high to low and now that you have evaluated what activities bring the greatest and most productive results, it is time to engineer time to do those things.
That’s where pre-blocking comes in.
So, you have determined that exercise is a top priority. You are committed to being healthy and fit so that you have more energy for your family and work and you want to live a healthy life. So, you believe that this is a part of the 20% of the things you do that are important and urgent. A top priority. But, you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time to exercise.” (I only know this because I have caught myself saying this so many times!!!!!!!!).
But, you have decided to commit to this priority and believe that is it a part of your ultimate productivity and a major part of your responsibility to yourself and your family. So, you look at your schedule—monthly, weekly, and daily—and pre-block a time for your exercise program—whatever that it for you. Once you pre-block that, you need a commitment from yourself and from your family to support your pre-blocked time and to not put guilt on you for doing it.
My own example is probably close to many of yours. I have exercised all my life. But, for various reasons, I have fallen out of a regular routine of exercise over the past few years. And my health and weight reflected that in a negative way. So, I spend time analyzing my own schedule and had to work hard on my own “behavioral” issues to make a commitment to start exercising on a regular basis once again. (Yes, this is a part of the Transformational process I wrote about at the outset of this blog series).
I know that if I don’t exercise early in the morning, I will not do it. My days get hectic and I am torn in many directions. Plus, I travel quite a bit every week. So, I have pre-blocked 45 minutes to an hour 3-5 times per week—early in the morning. I have begun setting my alarm earlier and trying to get to bed (or to sleep) a bit earlier. Since I know my travel schedule at the outset of every week, I know when I can’t exercise early in the morning and pre-block for other days.
Now that’s just one example. You will follow this pattern and process for all things that have been categorized as important and urgent. Even if one of those things is spending an hour of undivided attention with each of your kids each week—do so. Pre-block this. Nothing is more important. That’s not to say that some of those quality times will not be impromptu—but if you don’t prioritize it and schedule it, time may pass and the most important things in your life may not get done.
Pre-blocking: one of the keys to effective time management.