Kim, who owns a growing health-care practice in San Francisco, wanted to get rid of the feeling of overwhelm that seemed to hang on no matter how hard she worked.
The key to banishing overwhelm is focus.
Kim and I began by considering everything that’s required to make her life and her business run during a week: business development, client meetings, research on client cases, and administration, as well as sleep and exercise. She also has a temporary need to accommodate, an ambitious program of professional development classes.
We created more focus in her week and eliminated distractions by assigning blocks of time to each activity, with three days devoted to client work, one to business development, and one to her personal and professional development needs.
This plan created 20 hours each week for billable client time, a minimum of seven hours for business development, and four hours for administration.
Using this time block worked three ways to give Kim that sense of relief she was looking for.
First, her weekly list of 40 tasks suddenly looked like only about 8, since she focused on one business area at a time. She did not need to worry about client billing and writing her newsletter all day Tuesday. They had their own time, and Tuesday was devoted to study and class assignments.
Second, her new schedule eliminates excessive switching among tasks. Our brains require time to change focus, up to 20 minutes, so the more we can eliminate switching, the more efficiently our brains can work.
A third and more hidden benefit is that the time block creates a barrier to procrastination. If Kim could do her billing any time, it becomes easier to put it off “just for now.” But with an assigned time on Monday from 5 to 6 pm, anything not done then cannot be touched until the next Admin block, which doesn’t come for two more days. This creates an incentive to do it now and get it done.
Kim will revise her time block once she completes her education program and any time her work patterns need to change.
Have you tried time blocking? What has your experience been? Did it help? Was it hard to follow? Leave a comment here.