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Remote Work for Professionals and Managers: The Time Blocking Technique

At first blush, the Time Blocking Technique might sound similar to the Pomodoro technique. But it's actually kind of the opposite.

With the Pomodoro technique, you break your work up into strict equal intervals, regardless of where you are in a task.

With time blocking, you instead allocate blocks of your day to specific tasks. For each block, your goal is to allocate the estimated amount of time you need to complete that task.

So to start, think about the various things you need to get done that day, or week.

Then assign the amount of time you are willing to allocate to each of those tasks, bearing in mind that you only have a certain number of hours in a day available to get them done.

This is really effective for two reasons:

First, it forces you to think strategically about how you are going to spend your day.

You only have so much time, so you need to be smart about how you allocate it, which means you need to determine which tasks have priority over others.

Second, this technique boosts your productivity by forcing you to make the most of the time you've allocated to each task. After all, once your time limit is up, you'll need to move on to your other tasks.

What makes this technique work is a bizarre metaphysical property of work, which is that work expands to fill the amount of time you give it, and I'll explain what I mean by that.

If you give yourself five hours to complete a specific task, you'll probably take that full five hours to get it done.

If instead, you give yourself just one hour to complete that same task, somehow, someway, you'll find a way to get that task done in one hour.

Now the shorter version might not be quite as polished, but if we're going for the Pareto principle, which says we get 80% of the value from 20% of the effort, that's a great return on our investment.

Unless we're talking about brain surgery, most of the time 80% is good enough.

So those are two techniques that work very well for us: the Pomodoro Technique and the Time Blocking technique.

Where the Pomodoro Technique is great at targeting specific tasks, the Time Blocking Technique really shines in scenarios where you have an overwhelming load of unrelated tasks of varying priority and complexity.

In other words, it excels at bringing order to chaos.

Now, as I said, you can spend all day learning new ways to slice and dice your workload, but ultimately you'll only end up using one or two. So spend some time sampling what's out there and then just focus on mastering just one or two.

It may take some time to figure out what fits, but it's worth the investment. Because once you find the right one, it can totally transform the amount of work you are able to get done in any given amount of time.

But remember: at the end of the day, the only technique that works is the one you use.


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