HomeTechnologyNewsWhy you should use time lock to manage your tasks

Why you should use time lock to manage your tasks

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The time blocking method of time management can help improve your focus, productivity, and efficiency. It involves spending predetermined amounts of time on specific tasks, which you can easily do in a calendar app.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with what’s on your daily to-do list? Maybe the problem isn’t how many tasks you have, but how you manage them. If you’re looking for a new time management technique, try time blocking.

It’s certainly true that sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done, and you may, no matter what, simply have too much on your plate. But if you think your tasks can be managed and you just need a robust way to do it, time blocking might be for you.

What is time lock?

Time blocking, also known as calendar blocking, is a time management method. You designate time on your calendar for each task on your list, including breaks. During that period of time, you work on that task and that task only, eliminating distractions.

You can set a block for as little as 15 minutes or as long as a few hours. Try to estimate the time it will take to complete the task when you set it up.

Time lock in Outlook calendar

When the time is up, you stop working on the task and move on to the next one on the calendar.

At the end of the day, take inventory of the tasks you’ve completed and those you haven’t. Then create or adjust next day calendar blocks for incomplete items.

Benefits of time blocking

This may sound like a strict way to manage your duties. However, time blocking has advantages that you should consider.

  • You don’t have to make daily decisions about what tasks to tackle. With your calendar locked down to specific tasks, you’re already one step ahead for the day. Consider setting your time block for each day at the beginning of the work week to save time.
  • Time lock promotes focus and productivity. When you stick to the task at hand, you can delve into it with the concentration it deserves. Instead of breaking into multiple tasks at once, you can focus on one at a time.
  • You can dedicate the necessary time depending on the importance of the tasks. Things like returning phone calls and checking your inbox are necessary, but probably not as important as creating an executive briefing or scheduling a new project. With time blocking, you can reserve minimal time for lower-level tasks and more for those that are deeply involved.
  • You can see where your time is spent. Many times, we are pulled in different directions and at the end of the day, we wonder where the hours went. By setting limits for how long you’ll work on tasks and displaying them on your calendar, you’ll always see where your time has gone.

RELATED: Get insights into how you spend your time in Google Calendar

time lock variations

We don’t all work the same way, handle identical responsibilities, or have the same type of flexibility. There are time lock variations that you may find more suitable for you. Although they are similar in concept, they allow you to adapt to the type of work you do.

task batches

Just like using time blocks in your calendar for tasks, you can group related tasks into one block with batch tasks.

Task batches in Google Calendar

For example, you might spend 10 minutes checking your inbox, 20 minutes composing emails, and another 15 minutes responding to emails. Instead of creating a block for each of these tasks, you can group them together in your calendar with a heading like Emails for 45 minutes or an hour.

RELATED: How to use Google Calendar for tasks and reminders

time boxing

Time boxing is something of the opposite of task batching. Divide tasks into portions, subtasks, and set limits on how much time you will spend on each.

For example, instead of blocking three hours to write an article, break it up. Block one hour to write 1000 words, another hour to create screenshots and one more hour to edit the article.

Time boxing on Google Calendar

By setting limits on each subtask, you’ll not only focus better on that specific part, but you’ll also work more efficiently to get that task done within your time limit.

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theming of the day

Another variation of time blocking that is ideal if you have different areas of responsibility is day theming. With this approach, you designate certain days of the work week for specific tasks or responsibilities.

Theming of the day in Google Calendar

For example, suppose you are a project manager. You can dedicate Mondays to Project A, Tuesdays to Project B, and so on. If his responsibilities are extensive, he can spend Mondays marketing, Tuesdays finances, and Wednesdays operations.

RELATED: How to Create a Project Timeline in Microsoft Excel

Once you choose the topic for each day, you can use time blocking or task batching to block your calendar for all tasks related to each topic for each day, if you wish.

Take advantage of your calendar features

Whether your digital calendar of choice is Outlook Calendar, Google Calendar, or Apple’s Calendar app, take full advantage of the app’s features to help you set up and use time blocking.

Create Alerts or Reminders

Most calendar apps offer helpful reminders for events. By using these reminders, you’ll know when it’s time, or almost time, to move on to the next task.

Alerts from Apple Calendar on Mac

As an example, if you use Apple Calendar, you can set two alerts. Wear one for a few minutes before a task is scheduled to start. This gives you time to start finishing the current task. Then set a second alert for the time of the event. This ensures that you will know when to start the next task.

RELATED: How to control alerts and notifications on your Apple Watch

Select the time block (event) and use the Alert dropdown box to choose the time of the first reminder. Click the plus sign on the right and choose At event time to set the second reminder.

Alerts for an Apple Calendar event

Switch between week and day view

To set the time block, you can use the Week view. Then, when it’s time to focus on the current day, and that day alone, switch to Day view.

RELATED: How to use the board view in Microsoft Outlook calendar

If you use Google Calendar, you can easily switch views. At the top of the main calendar screen, select the dropdown box and choose “Week” to set up your time blocks. If you use a custom view, such as 5 days, you can choose that instead.

Set time lock on 5 day view in Google Calendar

Then, when you view your calendar for a particular day, use the dropdown box to choose “Day.” You will then clearly see your time blocks for today.

Day view in Google Calendar

Attach categories or color labels

To make your blocks of time easier to distinguish, you can attach categories, tags, or color-coded labels.

Time lock in Outlook calendar

For the Outlook calendar, go to the Appointment tab, open the Categorize drop-down list, and select “All Categories.” You can then customize the categories you see, add new ones, and change their names. For example, you can create categories for emails, reports, and phone calls, all with different colors.

RELATED: How to Color Code Outlook Calendar Events Using Categories

Category settings window in Outlook calendar

To attach a category to the time block, return to the Appointment tab and choose one from the Categorize dropdown list.

Categorize dropdown lists in Outlook

Time Lock isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve never tried it and need a little help getting things done, give it a try. And remember, if the main version of the technique doesn’t work well, you can try one of the variations.


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