What is time-blocking?
What is time-blocking? Time-blocking is effectively blocking time in your calendar dedicated to getting your work done. Time-blocking is used to give everyone more time to focus and complete project tasks.
Simple right? Sure is. And time-blocking has many other benefits too...
In addition to the obvious benefit of reducing the length of time it takes to get work done, time-blocking gets your projects out the door faster, reduces multi-tasking and can improve work-life balance.
Why does time-blocking work to make your project move forward, faster?
Why does time-blocking make projects move forward faster? In essence, time-blocking reduces task duration. You can calculate how long it takes to complete a task by adding the length of time it waits in the queue plus the amount of work divided by your average availability.
Time to complete a task = Queue time + Work time/Resource Availability
So, let's say a task spends 0 time in the queue, meaning you start the task as soon as it's ready to go and you have 20 hours worth of work to do, but only 2 hours a day to complete the task. In this scenario, it will take 10 days to complete the task. The task duration is 10 days.
However, if you time-blocked 4 hours a day instead of 2 hours, the task would take only 5 days to complete. The math is simple. Increase your availability to do the work and your tasks gets done faster.
When a person's task is on the critical path, you can easily see the direct benefit how time-blocking decreases project timelines and time-to-market. That’s why companies are embracing time-blocking as a way of doing business so project teams can get their work done sooner.
When you consider that projects become late one day at a time, you can see the practical sense time-blocking makes. In addition, since project teams are getting work done during the day, time-blocking reduces the need for team members to work nights and weekends. We find teams achieve a much better work-life balance, which in turn makes them more productive.
What are some best practices for implementing time-blocking?
Here are seven guidelines that will help you implement time-blocking in your organization.
- All technical resources time-block from 9:00am-12:00pm.
- Blocked time is not to be used for recurring meetings (weekly, biweekly, monthly and quarterly) such as status meetings, department meetings etc.
- Non-project ad hoc meetings should be scheduled in the afternoon, but may be scheduled during the time blocking period if necessary, e.g. interviews.
- Team members are encouraged to have meetings with other team members during the time-block if the meeting is required to complete the task.
- Critical resources have priority and should not be interrupted for lower priority tasks.
- If the production line is down or could go down today or tomorrow, it is expected to interrupt the time block to provide the help needed.
- Publish your department’s use of time-blocking to the rest of the organization to ensure everyone has a common understanding of the intentions and guidelines.