Could you use a little more free time in your day? Let’s be honest,we all could. You might think as a small business owner that free time or personal time is a thing of the past. You’re being pulled in a million different directions and your to-do list seems to never end. Whether you work in an office or manage a remote team from home, productivity can be one of a small business owner’s greatest challenges. There are a ton of tactics out there to help you reign in your schedule. Schedule chunking is an increasingly popular way to maximize productivity, minimize distractions, and get more done during your day.

Here is how you can use schedule chunking to shake up your workflow strategy:

First, what is Schedule Chunking?

Schedule chunking is when you break up your day into manageable chunks where you focus solely on one task instead of constantly reacting to interruptions. You can implement schedule chunking by applying it to the hours in a day, or the days in a week. The former allows you to break down your tasks and get them done piece by piece. The latter lets you see the big picture. Both work hand in hand to help you get more accomplished. Another way to think of schedule chunking is that you are creating a budget for your time, just like you would for your finances.

How to Get Started

  • Sit down with a pen and paper and write down your long and short-term goals.
  • Decide which tasks are a priority, the ones that you need to accomplish contribute to your goals.
  • Group tasks into categories of related items. Career, family, education, chores…etc.
  • Determine which categories and tasks are a priority and start plugging those into your schedule first.

Just Say No

An important part of schedule chunking and productivity, in general, is learning to say ‘no.’ Saying no to things that don’t align with your goals. The idea behind schedule chunking is to put a specific task, or group of tasks, on your calendar and give it 100% of your attention. If you dedicate a chunk to working on a certain project, that means saying ‘no’ to checking emails for that hour or anything else that could distract you from accomplishing the task you scheduled. You might know this more commonly as multitasking. Each time you move from one task to another and then back to the one again, your brain has to reset and refocus your attention. If you use schedule chunking and only focus on one task or goal at a time, your productivity will increase simply because you aren’t constantly refocusing your attention. All of those little moments add up, which means you’ve now given yourself more time which, in turn, means you can get more done.

If You Put It on the Schedule—Do It!

If you don’t add it to the schedule it more than likely won’t get done. But, if you do put it on the schedule, hold yourself to it! You’ve already budgeted the time for it. Things like

  • exercising,
  • dedicated family time, and
  • a good night’s rest,

are all important to achieving your goals and should be scheduled first. Don’t steal time from other chunks. If you scheduled an hour for a morning workout, don’t use that time to check emails—checking email has its own block. It’s ok to make revisions or make occasional exceptions, but in general, you should stick to your schedule.

Schedule in Chunks

You are essentially making appointments with your tasks, so get out your calendar and start scheduling. Try starting with something small. Give yourself 30 minutes to write a report.

Set your mind to focus and work only on that report.

  • Don’t answer the phone.
  • Don’t check your emails (they’ll still be there when you’re done).
  • Stay off social media.
  • Write the report.

Once you’ve got the feeling down, start adding other chunks to your schedule. If possible, group all of the phone calls you need to make together in an hour block, allotting 10-15 minutes per call. If you have multiple meetings, try and schedule them back to back so you don’t have 15 wasted minutes in between, because let’s be honest, you’re not getting anything done in 15 minutes.  The more you integrate schedule chunking into your routine, the more comfortable it will feel and the more you will start noticing the extra time you have on your hands.