Sponsored Post by Tiimo
Time management is arguably one of the most important skills to master - yet it can feel impossible for neurodivergent minds. No matter how good your intentions are, sticking to your schedule just doesn’t work - leaving you stressed, behind on work and even missing out on fun activities or social events.
You’ve probably heard the term ‘time-blocking’ before. It’s a useful time management tool to boost your productivity and make sure you get ALL of those tasks done before the end of the week. Yet, somehow, it can all go pear-shaped. You spend time and energy blocking out your calendar, only for things to go off track. Then you’re left feeling frustrated and stressed as you race against the clock to get everything done.
This blog post is in partnership with our fantastic friends at Tiimo - the visual planning app created by neurodivergents for neurodivergents - and we’re here to share 5 top tips for successful time blocking.
1. Plan and Prioritise
Whether you’re planning the week ahead or an upcoming project, the first step is crucial - so don’t glaze over it. Start by spending time planning and prioritising your tasks using a physical notepad or a digital app like Tiimo (however you work best). We've broken this down for you:
First, list ALL of the tasks you need to complete.
Next, rank each task in order of importance.
If you’re a visual learner, use different colours to highlight the importance (e.g. red = very important, yellow = some importance, green = not important right now). Or, try creating 3 columns for the tasks to sit under to clearly separate the categories.
This will help you decide when tasks need to be completed and how much time you need to allocate to each task.
2. Set Realistic Time Limits
*How* you set time limits for each task is also very important. Don’t just guess a random time and hope for the best. Equally, don’t allocate the minimal amount of time it takes to complete the task - if you go over this time, your whole schedule is messed up. Imagine that happens for every single time-blocked activity - it would be chaos trying to move everything around and still remain on track.
Instead, be realistic with time limits. Be honest with yourself about how long a task will take, and add a buffer for any unexpected delays or breaks. It’s okay if something takes longer than expected, you just need to account for the possibility. For example:
On average, it takes you 45 minutes to write a blog post. But you also need time for research, reviewing, amendments, and breaks. That’s more like 2 or 3 hours' worth of work - which makes a BIG difference to your schedule.
3. Stick To Schedule
Unfortunately for us, time-blocking alone isn’t enough to spark that productivity and perfect our time management skills. Once you’ve created a time-block schedule, you need to actively try to stick to it as much as possible. Now, this can be hard, especially if you’re not used to following a strict schedule and prefer to have an endless amount of time for a task. However, the less you stick to the plan, the harder it’ll be to maintain. If you’re struggling, try one of these methods:
Avoid distractions and interruptions (e.g. turn your phone off or find a quiet place to work).
Set reminders or use a timer to nudge you to change tasks (you can do this in Tiimo).
Use the ‘power hour’ mentality - stop the task after an hour, even if it’s incomplete. Keep following your schedule and come back to finish it when you have more time and a fresher perspective.
4. Take Breaks
Now you’ve nailed how to stay focused during your time blocks, it’s important to remember to take breaks, too (especially if you spend a lot of time looking at screens). Ensure you’re blocking out time for regular breaks - and treat them as non-negotiable tasks! This allows you time to recharge your energy and avoid burnout. There are many relaxing things you can do on your break, such as:
Take a walk and stretch.
Listen to music or a podcast.
Read a book.
Have a healthy snack.
5. Review And Adjust
Don’t *just* create a time block schedule and stick with it forever - even when you know it’s not working effectively for you. Take time at the end of each day, week or month (whichever you prefer) to review your time-blocking process and schedule. Assess what worked and what didn’t work to adjust it where needed. For example:
If you keep running out of time - re-evaluate your time limits, are they realistic?
If you left too many important tasks until the end - go back and re-prioritise.
It might seem simple at first, but it takes time, trial and error to figure out a time-blocking schedule that works for you. Don’t let that discourage you - as once you nail it, it’s a game changer for improving your productivity. You’ll have more time to focus on the important things, a better work/life balance and less anxiety around getting things finished on time.
Want to give it a go? Tiimo is kindly giving you 2 months of free premium access for all of your time management and time-blocking needs. To claim, download the app and use code UNMASKED.
P.S. If you’ve done all of this, and you’re *still* running out of time every week - it might be time to re-evaluate how many projects you’ve taken on and what your overall capacity is. If you’ve taken too much on, no amount of time-blocking can squeeze it all in.