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Paul DeLong

Customer Success Manager

Paul is the “the best part of training,” according to PLAYBOOK's clients. Paul hones his lean and agile skills mountain biking where no man has gone before!

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7 Guidelines for Implementing Time-Blocking Effectively

Paul DeLong- 05/24/18 03:04 PM

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.

  1. All technical resources time-block from 9:00am-12:00pm.

  2. Blocked time is not to be used for recurring meetings (weekly, biweekly, monthly and quarterly) such as status meetings, department meetings etc.

  3. 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. 

  4. Team members are encouraged to have meetings with other team members during the time-block if the meeting is required to complete the task.

  5. Critical resources have priority and should not be interrupted for lower priority tasks.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.