The busy girl’s guide to time-blocking: Master one of the most effective time management strategies

Learn what time-blocking is all about and how you can use it to take control of your schedule and get more done in the same amount of time. 

The busy girl’s guide to time-blocking: Master one of the most effective time management strategies

If you’ve clicked on this article, you’re probably juggling lots of responsibilities, from a busy school or work life to social plans, life admin, and hobbies. With so much on your plate, it can feel impossible trying to squeeze all your commitments in! 

But don’t worry, there are a bunch of great time management techniques out there which can help you feel a little more on top of things. And one of our personal favorites is time-blocking.

In today’s article, we'll explore what time-blocking is all about and how you can use it to take control of your schedule and get more done in the same amount of time. 

Let’s start with the basics:

What is time-blocking?

Time-blocking is a time management technique where you divide your day into different, focussed ‘blocks’ of time and assign specific tasks or activities to each block. 

Basically, instead of letting your day unfold haphazardly, you proactively plan how you'll spend your time, from what you’ll get done to how long you’ll spend on each task. 

Why should I try time-blocking?

Here are the top three reasons why we love time-blocking: 

  • It makes you more productive: By focusing on one task at a time, you can get more done without distractions.
  • It helps you focus on what matters: Planning your day helps you avoid wasting time on unimportant things.
  • It makes you more relaxed: Having a plan makes you feel less overwhelmed and anxious, and gives you more control over your schedule.

Sounds pretty great, right? But how do you get started? Let’s break it down in a few simple steps:

How to get started with time-blocking

  1. Establish your priorities

At the start of every day or week (we like to do it on Sunday nights!), identify your top priorities for that period of time. These could be work-related tasks, personal goals, or social commitments.

  1. Break them down 

Break your priorities into smaller, manageable tasks. This makes it easier to allocate specific time blocks for each task without feeling overwhelmed by how much you need to get done.

  1. Block out your time

Divide your day into blocks of time, typically ranging from 30 minutes to a few hours. Then, assign specific tasks or activities to each block based on your priorities. 

You can even make it cute and fun by color coordinating your tasks: pink for your social plans, blue for work, red for life admin, green for your ‘you time’, and so on.

  1. Be realistic

Be realistic about how long each task will take and don't over-schedule yourself! 

Always leave some buffer time between tasks to allow for any unexpected delays or interruptions. And when you're blocking out your work or study days, make sure you block in plenty of time for lunch, travel and coffee breaks. 

  1. Stay flexible

Don’t feel you have to turn down a spontaneous coffee catch up with your best friend just because you had time-blocked your Sunday morning to get your washing done! 

While the goal of time-blocking is to stick to your schedule as much as possible, it's important to remain flexible. Life’s unpredictable, and sometimes you may need to adjust your plans as you go. 

Time-blocking is a helpful productivity tool, not a hard and fast rule, so be open to juggling a few things around.

  1. Think about which tasks you can put on autopilot 

Now that you can see a visual representation of how your time is being used, you’ll be able to start identifying which tasks are possibly taking up too much of your precious time. 

For example, do you need to spend two hours sorting your grocery shopping at the store on Monday? Or could you make life easier for yourself by doing your food shopping online at the weekend?

And do you need to spend an hour driving to the post office to drop off your returns every week? No! With the ReturnQueen app, you can get your returns picked up right from your door. 

What it feels like when you’re drowning in returns!

If you’re an online shopping addict like us, you’ll know all about the hassle of taking back unwanted clothes and other items every month. With ReturnQueen, you’ll have no more post office trips, no more packaging, no more labels - and no more missed refunds! That’s hours of time saved every week, so much less to think about - and there’s a plan to suit everyone.

Just download the app to give it a go - your first 7 days are free, no strings attached!

Our top time-blocking tips

By following the steps above, you’ll already be well on your way to becoming a time-blocking pro. Here are some of our best tips to help you make the most of this time management technique:

  • Group similar tasks: Batch similar tasks together and tackle them during the same time block. For example, you could dedicate one block to answering emails, another to making phone calls, and so on. This minimizes context switching and will help make you more efficient.
  • Use a digital calendar: Consider using a digital calendar or scheduling app to create and manage your time blocks. This makes it easy to adjust your schedule as needed and means you’ll always have your plans with you wherever you go.
  • Work on reducing procrastination: If you find yourself procrastinating on certain tasks, try breaking them down into smaller, more manageable steps or using techniques like the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused. You can find out more about this technique - and other anti-procrastination techniques - in our recent article on mastering time management as a college student.
  • Prioritize self-care: Don't forget to block out time each day for self-care activities like exercise, relaxation, and hobbies. Taking care of yourself is essential for preventing burnout and living a happy, rounded life. Read our recent article on self-care tips for busy women for some ‘you time’ ideas and inspiration!
  • Review and reflect: At the end of each day or week, take some time to think about how you spent your time and reflect on what worked well and what could be improved next time.
  • Expect interruptions: Despite your best efforts, interruptions are bound to happen. When they do, try to deal with them quickly and get back on track as soon as possible.
  • Be okay with saying ‘no’: Learning to say no to non-essential tasks or commitments is super important for effective time-blocking. Remember, every time you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else!

You’re ready to start taking control of your time

Time-blocking can be a super powerful tool if you’re looking to take control of your schedule and make the most of every week. 

When you start proactively planning how you'll spend each day, you’ll feel more productive, less stressed, and confident that you’re spending your time exactly how you want to. 

For more tips on simplifying your life and mastering time management, read our recent piece on time-saving hacks to make your life easier in 2024. You can also click here to find out more about how ReturnQueen takes all the hassle out of one chore nobody wants to do: returns!