If you’ve ever had issues with productivity or finding the time to get everything you need to done, you may have heard of the management technique time chunking. It’s the idea that you can break down, categorize and chart an effective, re-usable plan to increase productivity. It takes the guess work out of what you are doing and keeps you at your maximum efficiency.
I rather like the way it was laid out in an article I read. It explained the chunking technique as:
- Time Chunking (in psychology) is a phenomenon whereby individuals group responses when performing a memory task.
- Time Chunking (in writing) is a method of presenting information which splits concepts into small pieces of information.
As you can see, time chunking can mean both grouping small things into larger chunks AND splitting large things into smaller chunks.
This is a concept that I reflect in my own time chunking process. I’ve got three steps for you, and this worksheet to help you work through and practice this process.
3 Step Breakdown To Time Chunking
This breakdown consists of sorting, planning and doing. Easy right? It is if you’re willing to actually figure out a time chunking process and execute on it. I’ll get into the steps momentarily, though I want you to consider this; how much time do you waste on deciding? Deciding what to do next, making decisions in general, is a time-consuming process. By time chunking out your week, you’re eliminating time spent making those decisions. Cool eh?
Now, the process I’ll show you is for the average work week, as I generally do not plan weekends. They are my “free to play” time when I work on my own passion projects like Empowerment Pride. You can take this strategy and start time chunking months out in advance if that’s your jam. I find that in my ever-changing business, weekly is ideal.
Below, I’m going to explain how to use the resource effectively.
For this step you need to sit down and write out all the things that you need to do over the course of a “regular” work week.
No item is too big or too small when time chunking at this phase. In fact, the more you can list, the easier it will be later to plan your most effective time chunks. When I start time chunking each week, I base it on how much or how little of the listed tasks I must complete within the timeframe. As time chunking is something I do weekly, I find it easier to adapt to the ebbs and flows of being a business owner.
I also tend to review what I have listed to make sure my tasks, priorities and needs haven’t changed. Being adaptable in business is paramount to success so I feel that one’s list and time chunking plan should be fluid as well.
Once you feel you have a well-defined, accurate list, you can proceed to the next step.
Once you have a complete list of your tasks through time chunking, you can assign a color (or number for the color blind) according to the category it falls under. As mentioned, we are taking tasks and breaking them down so that we can group them back up with their like-minded mates.
I sort my tasks in into the following 7 categories. (More odd numbers!)
- Things you do on the regular.
- A category for the unexpected occurrences. (Because sh*t always happens.)
- Don’t let meeting dominate your life, designate them time.
- You cannot work solely in your business, you need to work on it too.
- Choose when to manage your emails rather than derailing when one comes in.
- Social Media
- The greatest time suck yet know to man, don’t let it win.
- Wrap Up
- Review the day and make any needed changes to the next day.
Some things often have little sorted under them, like wrap-ups and meetings, though they still need to be given time and consideration when building your time chunking process.
Sort your brain dump of tasks into the above categories. Once you see which categories have which tasks, you’ll be able to better allocate your time. Let’s move to the time chunking planning phase!
This should generally feel like the easiest part. You have done all the hard work of time chunking by listing and sorting. Now you need to use that gathered information to plan out your day.
Personally, I’m VERY color oriented. I love using colors to tell me what I am doing when. Over time, I read the colors faster than I would print, which is ideal for my fast-paced lifestyle.
Feel free to use a numbering system if that’s the way your brain processes information.
There are a few things to note.
1 – Wrap up is intended to be your last hour of the day. This helps you plan for the next day, while getting ready to cease your work day at the right time. This can be very effective for managing overwork.
2 – Emails and Social Media should not get more than an hour each day unless you manage social media or customer service. Limit your unnecessary online activities if you really want to see a boost in productivity.
3 – Planning is important to put in, even just one day a week. If you really want to master time chunking, you’ll need to be forward thinking in order to stay proactive rather than reactive. Reactive activities should be reserved for the unexpected time chunk, so that you aren’t hoping from one fire to the next all willy nilly.
4 – The 15-minute breaks each hour are not mandatory… though they ARE wise. Even if the break is you stopping and taking the time to transition from one task to the next, it should help you ease into chunking and build positive habits.
Also, remember this is not set in stone. You can adjust and fine tune as your needs shift. Don’t be afraid to use and re-use this workbook to establish routines and eliminate guesswork. Remember, time chunking is about eliminating time lost to decision making while still maintaining a healthy and prosperous business.
Final Thoughts on Time Chunking
Truly, I could go on and on, however I’ll leave you to work through this a time or two before delving further.
That being said, if you get stuck, have troubles, questions or concerns, reach out anytime. We are all in this together and there’s more than enough work to go around. Even if you become super efficient, I promise!