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Time blocking is not a time management technique. It is a way of life.
We spend at least a third of our day working, typically five days a week, and yet so many of us feel we do not have enough time to complete all the things we wish to complete. How is it that we're not maximizing the time we have? Do we just have too much work?
Well, you might have too much work, but you probably also don't optimize your time management. By improving your time management, you can get more done, be less stressed, do better work, and be able to relax more outside of work, making you even more productive for the next workday.
Optimizing your time management is one of the hidden secrets of enjoying your work and advancing your career.
In this Xembly article, we’ll look at time blocking. Specifically, I'm going to give you some time blocking templates.
But I don't think you really need them.
Why? Because I'm also going to introduce to you a new way of approaching time blocking. You can use the software I recommend or you can use a different software that tries to achieve a similar outcome. I'm not here to be a salesperson.
But time management is changing with the advent of AI. You're not alone when it comes to managing your own time. For the first time ever, you have help.
In this article, we will look at:
- What is time blocking? The easiest form of time management
- 8 time blocking statistics that reveal your competitive edge
- 7 time blocking templates to keep you on track
- The future of time blocking is automated
- How an AI executive assistant manages your calendar
But first, what is time blocking anyway?
What is time blocking? The easiest form of time management
Time blocking is a time management technique used to manage a calendar as a proxy for managing your day.
It may be the most effective time management technique and is a favorite of many famous entrepreneurs, scientists, and other successful people.
Time blocking is also the most popular time management technique, but only 5% of people use it. Amazingly, 88% of people don't use any time management technique at all.
There are generally three ways to approach time blocking:
Time blocking in your day planner for the bullet journaler
The first is the original, old-school approach. In this old-fashioned way, you may use a day planner and, at the beginning of your day, write into your notebook all the things you're going to do and the times you'll do them. At the end of the day, you can go back, assess your list, and confirm whether or not you achieved what you wanted to achieve. Now, I call this old-fashioned, but there is a large online subculture of people who really enjoy this offline, manual approach. Today, it falls in as a niche of bullet journaling. I don't bullet journal personally, but I do like to have a physical notepad that I write tasks and notes on to. However, I normally reserve my physical notepad for personal tasks. I keep my work tasks in a much more evolved system.
Blocking out your calendar tied to your email app
The second form of time blocking, which is popular and probably the most common in a professional setting, is using your electronic calendar and adding events or reminders throughout your day. If you work in management, in a tech company, for example, this is probably the very core of the work you do. Your day is built around meetings, and your meetings are determined by the calendar. It’s at the heart of your work. But for many other workers in tech and outside of tech, the calendar, while important, doesn't define and determine what they do in their day until it becomes a smart calendar.
AI time blocking with an automated executive assistant
The third form of time blocking, which we'll talk about in more depth later, involves using an AI assistant who handles our calendar for us and helps us with our schedule. More on that later.
8 time blocking statistics that reveal your competitive edge
In 2022, Timewatch commissioned a study into how people used and managed time at work. The most shocking thing is how few people have any plan at all…
- 1 in 8 people (12%) use a dedicated time management system
- 88% of people don’t use a proper system, but make do with a calendar, their email inbox, a to-do list or work it out as they go along
- Time blocking is the most common time management system use (5%), followed by the Rapid Planning Method (3%) and the Eisenhower Matrix at 2%
- 44% of people feel they have things under control at work 5 days a week, but 46% feel they don’t have things under control for one to two days a week, 11% feel they don’t have control for three or more days
- 91% agreed that better time management would reduce stress at work, 90% agreed it would increase productivity, 86% that it would improve focus on tasks, 82% agreed it would give more confidence a work, 74% that it would result in better workplace relationships
- 32% of people say they are constantly looking at email, 31% say they look at email whenever they see a notification and a further 20% say they are looking at least every hour
- 38% of people say they spend up to an hour a day on tasks or meetings that aren’t important to their role, 32% say they waste 1-2 hours and a further 17% waste 2-3 hours
- 76% of people said they would be prepared to spend between 15-30 minutes a day if better time management saved them 90 minutes, reduced stress and improved their reputation at work
If you want a more in depth breakdown of the research, you can find it linked above.
7 time blocking templates to keep you on track
We all have our own favorite tools, so the list below should have something for you whether you prefer Google, Microsoft, Notion, Figma, or even printing your template out and scribbling on it manually.
- An all-in-one planner template for Notion. It’s an all-in-one planner that helps you plan your day using a time-blocking template, and establish your priorities on a weekly and monthly basis. Access it here.
- A time block planner for Figma on Figjam. On this daily time blocking template, each section is dedicated to a specific task with a start and end time. Access it here.
- Time blocking template on Google Sheets. For those GSuite devotees among you, this time blocking template is easy to import into your account. Access it here.
- Time blocking template on Excel. If you’re more of a Microsoft aficionado who appreciates the extra complexity and control of using Excel, this planner can get you started. Access it here.
- Printable daily time blocking template on pdf. If you want a pdf template that you can use digitally or print out for a physical copy, this template is a single day plan. Access it here.
- Professional printable 5 day week time blocking template on pdf. This one is the same as the above but structured to cover the standard work week. Access it here.
- Personal printable 7 day week time blocking template on pdf. This pdf covers a full 7 days to make it suited to personal week planning. Access it here.
“But they were, all of them, deceived, for another time-blocking approach was made…”
The future of time blocking is automated
As useful as these templates above are, they're rapidly on the way to becoming obsolete. There is something nice about bullet journaling and scribbling in a day planner. But for practical, professional purposes, the knowledge worker of the future will not have to manually manage their own calendars. The knowledge worker of the future has an assistant. Unlike in the past, when highly skilled knowledge workers had secretaries and assistants in the office with them, the assistants of the future are formed by artificial intelligence.
The AI executive assistant is capable of managing your calendar, scheduling meetings, blocking space, adding reminders, accepting and rejecting meetings on your behalf, reorganizing your calendar, and even delegating tasks. Your executive assistant will even attend meetings with you and take notes for you. Then your AI notes can be shown to you for review in case you want to add or change any details.
This high-tech helper is more than an automated note taker or an electronic scheduler. This AI is more like a project manager working just for you. But this sci-fi vision of work is not simply an imagined projection of the future; this new way of working is the reality for many in tech who are jumping on the newest AI tools.
Xembly not only has all of these functionalities, but they are tied seamlessly together to make your workday easier.
How an AI executive assistant manages your calendar
Just like everyone else at Xembly, I use our AI, Xena, every day. This is how my typical day looks: When I log on in the morning, Xena messages me in Slack and tells me what I have planned for my day. She asks me if there's anything I want to change or add. I typically ask her what I have on my task list in my backlog. She shows me in bullet points the items I have added to my task list to get done.
We chat in Slack as I tell her any changes or additions I'd like to make to my calendar for that day. For items I don't want to do that day, I'll tell her to throw them on the calendar for tomorrow or maybe next week. Then, I log on properly. I know what I need to do, when it starts, and when it finishes. I'm using both time blocking and time boxing to make sure I have the most efficient approach to using my time and don't waste time on any lower importance tasks.
When I jump into a meeting, Xena jumps in with me. Xena takes notes for me and then lets me review those notes at the end. If Xena thinks there are action items from the meeting, she will already have filed them as tasks and will suggest them to me or for delegation to other people. This is everything you would hope an executive assistant or project manager would do for you.
I asked Xena to schedule a meeting with another member of staff for some time tomorrow. Xena looks at my calendar, their calendar, and our priorities, then picks the time and schedules the meeting. It doesn't matter that I am on one continent and my coworker is on another; the meeting is arranged automatically at a time that works for both of us in a 1 to 1 meeting. This is impressive but trivial. When Xena performs this task for a meeting of 12 people without any back and forth, it feels almost like magic.
Xembly saves workers on average eight hours a week. And a lot of it is through doing the little things. Taking care of organizing and manual tasks saves time, reduces cognitive load, and minimizes context switching.
It’s built on time blocking but it becomes complete time and task management.
Xembly turns AI time blocking into an AI chief of staff
Xembly is an AI chief of staff - scheduling meet ups, attending your meetings, recording the notes, creating action items, assigning tasks, and helping team members manage their time so that work gets done.
Here are three advantages of using Xembly:
Smooth AI scheduling
Xembly enables 1:1 appointments and complex multi-person scheduling requests with ease. Whether it's via email, Slack, or a dedicated scheduling link, Xembly's AI aide, Xena, coordinates the details for you and your participants.
Accurate meeting documentation
Xembly documents the essential aspects of your meetings, leaving out anything unnecessary. It provides notes, recordings, and compiles video snippets of important segments. Whether meetings are remote, hybrid, or in-person, Xembly helps you focus on meaningful conversations.
Intelligent task oversight
Xembly’s Task Manager gives direction to your calendar through its auto-task monitoring and time allocation. With Xembly’s Task Manager, users experience a 26% uptick in task completion rates. It creates time for meeting tasks and shapes your timetable to help you get them done.
If you're still not sold, check out our happy customers:
Try Xembly now by clicking here.