As a high performer, you’re always trying to make your life better.
Whether it means increasing sales, creating efficiencies, or being more present for your kiddos, pushing yourself to the next level is exciting.
However, it also comes with risk.
The risk of setting expectations too high and then not achieving them. Which makes you feel low and unmotivated and worst of all, inadequate.
You might berate yourself over why you can’t achieve what you set out to do.
Or feel like a failure when your intentions don’t go your way.
I hate that.
We put ourselves in situations that are not achievable even by the smartest and most driven person and then blame ourselves when things don’t go as planned.
Let’s put an end to this self-sabotaging experience of inadequacy, shall we?
There’s one simple tool I always use with my clients to set realistic expectations, take control of their time, and end each day feeling successful (instead of like a failure).
It’s Time Blocking.
Time blocking is just as it sounds – blocking out your time every day.
Time blocking is about assessing what you need to get done, how much time you have, and where you’ll fit it into your schedule.
Let me show you how time blocking can be the difference between feeling like a failure and feeling accomplished.
My to-do list has over 50 tasks on it. In my head, when I DON’T block my time, I think I’ll get to at half of them by the end of the day.
When I don’t get close to completing even half those tasks (or only do the easy ones so I feel busy), I feel like a failure.
That’s because no matter how much I actually accomplish I focus on what I DIDN’T get done.
On the other hand, here’s what my day looks like when I DO block my time:
- Drive to the airport and check in 8:00 – 9:30
- Call Rhonda to negotiate terms 9:45 – 10:15
- Create draft for Sims proposal 10:30 – 12:00 (on the flight)
- Attend meeting 1:30- 3:00
- Edit and finalize RFP 3:00 – 4:00
- Respond to emails 4:00 – 5:30
- Talk to kids 6:00 – 6:30
- Walk 7:30 – 8:30
Yup, 8 tasks. Just 8. Not a dozen, not two dozen. But eight.
With time blocked out on my schedule I can see exactly how much I can realistically fit in, including work, family, and health.
I don’t end up with a list of 20 other tasks I didn’t get done. Which means even if I get to six of the eight tasks on my time blocked schedule, I still feel like a winner.
A lot more inspiring and motivating than six out of twenty on my non-time blocked list.
When you rely on planning your day in your head, you underestimate how much time you have and overestimate how much you can get done.
Thoughts get jumbled and time frames get confused. You have got to get it down on your calendar (or paper) where you can see it throughout the day.
Important Tip: Do not underestimate the value of taking five minutes every night to go through the exercise of blocking your time on your calendar for the next day. Time blocking forces you to take a look at your meetings and appointments and scheduling what is truly most important around them.
It forces you to prioritize BEFORE you begin your day, which arms you to be proactive vs. reactive throughout the day.
It allows you to make educated and rational decisions about what future commitments you should say yes to and what requests you should say no to.
For example, if a friend or colleague asks to “pick your brain,” or “grab a bite,” before immediately responding “Yes!” you take a glance at your day’s schedule and let them know that right now isn’t a great time, but after 2 pm you are wide open.
If you regularly find yourself feeling like you’re not achieving what you set out to do, please embrace this simple yet powerful strategy.
Time blocking truly is the magic pill for setting realistic expectations and improving your results. I dare you to try it!
Here’s to getting more of the right things done.
Mridu Parikh is a writer and speaker on the Elite Road Warrior Team. She helps ambitious professionals feel in control of their time, energy, and habits, even when they’re overwhelmed by demands and distractions. As a productivity coach, speaker, and best-selling author she will teach you how to focus, overcome procrastination, and squash anxiety.
ERW endorses her book, Accomplish It.
Listen to an interview with Mridu on the Elite Road Warrior Podcast Episode 022.
Get Mridu’s FREE resource, 21 Killer Hacks To Stop Feeling Overwhelmed, on her website, Life Is Organized.