Productivity

Calendar Blocking can improve your productivity in quarantine

April 22, 2020

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Calendar Blocking can improve your productivity in quarantine

When it comes to calendar blocking a lot of people think that you need to plan every single part of your day. At Veamly, we are huge fans of calendar blocking and we’ve done it since day one. As a remote company, we wanted to share a few tidbits. This is how you make the most out of your day in quarantine.  

 What is Calendar Blocking? 

 Calendar Blocking is defining time blocks for your different tasks, activities or events. And yes that means starting today with a pre-planned schedule of what you’re going to do. As stated in Parkinson’s Law “work expands so on to fill the time available for its completion”. 


Many successful people like Elon Musk leverage this technique to get the most out of their day.


Most people have the issue of feeling like robots with calendar Blocking. The obvious question is how can you plan every single spot of your day? This is crazy. You are not a robot! That’s justifiable. We will come back to that a little bit further in this blog post. But first, we want to share why this technique might help you, especially in this quarantine.

Taking back control WFH

Now picture this, you are working from home 40 hours a week already. It’s so easy for things to get blurry. You give yourself an excuse.  “Oh, I have a lot of work. And I need to go over the rest of the backlog or whatever.”

Quarantine Boredom is killing you during the weekend. You decide to get a head start on that messy work inbox to get busy.


It’s a bit more worrying for software engineers.


Jason Fried CEO of Basecamp says that 40 hours a week is enough. At Veamly, we care more about the output rather than the number of hours. But, we agree with Jason too.


Not everyone can still do great work without burning themselves out. The problem is working over 40 hours a week means you’re not optimizing your time. You are not also prioritizing right.

Set up a boundary between your life and  your work

In his book Indistractible, Nir Eyal lays out 3 life domains: you, your work and your relationships.

He says “The people you love deserve more than getting whatever time is left over. If someone is important to you, make regular time for them on your calendar.” 


Calendar blocking also helps to remove the guilt of not doing great work. If I ask you at the end of the day: “did you do great work today?”


The answer should be clear and simple.


 In Remote: Office Not Required, David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried broke down the passionate remote workers’ dilemma
They explain “That’s the great irony of letting passionate people work from home. A manager’s natural instinct is to worry about his workers not getting enough work done. But, the real threat is that too much will likely get done. And because the manager isn’t sitting across from his worker anymore, he can’t look in the person’s eyes and see burnout.” 

Fight procrastination 

Let’s be honest, we are natural procrastinators. It’s true that procrastination can be the fuel of original thinking. Yet, too much procrastination can tank your performance.


By putting time constraints for each time task you are keeping yourself accountable.

 How We Do calendar blocking at Veamly

 We rely on calendar blocking to keep track of recurring meetings or important events. Meditation Wednesday, Gratitude Mondays, and all company meetings to name few.


Those are healthy habits that we developed to preserve team health.
Each Veamler has their own calendar (or calendars). This depends on their preferences and workstyle.

You can put on your focus calendar all your creative tasks that need zero distractions. You can set another one for your meetings or even your personal time. That’s how you let your co-workers or your manager know that you are not available at a particular time(An example of a Veamler Daily Calendar).


We recommend using different colors for different time slots. It helps you visualize your day right away. In our upcoming podcast, our CEO Emna Ghariani says that calendar blocking is a communication tool. It allows your manager to get the visibility they need. This way, you are avoiding the fatigue of pushing back when they throw more tasks your way. 

Few things to keep in mind when getting started

I know by now you are super excited to start and you can’t wait to be super productive.


Nope.


You will wake up tomorrow and you will end up missing the whole thing. I f you’re lucky you do it two days in a row but then you drop the ball right after.


 Building a new habit takes at least 21 days to make it stick. It’s about consistency, not intensity. When you get started with calendar blocking is, always set realistic expectations.

You can’t leverage calendar blocking if your team is not aligned. You need to communicate and explain the value of calendar blocking.


 One last note,  calendar blocking is not about crossing every task off your list. It’s about allocating time for the tasks that matter. Leaving some room for spontaneous actions( your own personal time) is still good.

Not all people want to plan every single minute of the day. As long as you’re using it at work to get closer to your goals, you are on the right track.

So when are you going to use calendar blocking?

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