If it seems like your daily to-do list never gets completed, you may want to try a new approach: Ditching the list of tasks that have no set time limit and trying time-blocking instead. Gwen Moran writes at Fast Company that with time-blocking, each period of time is devoted to a certain task, which lets you see what you can actually get accomplished. Here’s how to do it.
Choose your times slots carefully. Schedule bigger projects at times when you have long stretches to make progress with fewer interruptions, and smaller tasks when you have time between other commitments. Also, choose your most productive time of day for tasks that need your focus and creativity.
Be realistic about how much time you need. You’ll constantly be running late if you don’t schedule enough time for tasks. Add a few 30-minute buffer periods in your calendar so you can catch up if you fall behind. If you’re on time, you can use those periods to take a break or get a head start on something else.
Minimize distractions. You can’t stop all distractions, but when you’re focused on a task you should turn off your phone and desktop notifications for a period of time. If you suddenly think of something that needs to be done, jot it down and take care of it when your current task is complete.
Be flexible. Your time-blocked schedule doesn’t have to be set in stone. Be ready to make adjustments as things happen throughout the day.
— Adapted from “Could Time-Blocking Replace Your To-Do List?” Gwen Moran, Fast Company.