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Building an Effective Schedule

Chunking Your Time

Do you ever wish there were more hours in the day? Many people do. They think that having more time means doing more. But personal productivity isn’t about putting in more hours on the job. It’s about optimizing your work schedule by planning, organizing, and controlling your use of time more effectively.

The answer to making the most of your time is “chunking.” Chunking is an organizational strategy for making more efficient use of your time schedule. It means arranging your schedule, so you have segments of time dedicated to one task or type of activity.

Chunking time can boost productivity because focusing on one thing at a time saves the time wasted on task switching. And it can improve your state of mind, letting you concentrate on completing a task in full. And you can give yourself a ‘job done’ pat on the back!

Group similar tasks and activities together

Chunking needs to be done as you’re creating your work schedule. Consider what you need to accomplish. If you’ve kept task logs during the week, you’ll have a good idea of what you do during a typical week. And then follow three simple guidelines.

Each time you shift your attention from one thing to another, you lose focus. And reorienting yourself to the task at hand takes up time. So the first guideline is to group similar tasks and activities together into the same chunk of time. This will cut time loss. For example, you could cluster together your written correspondence — your e-mail, letters, memos, reports — and schedule a chunk of time for all that.

Or if you have regular meetings outside the office, you could schedule them together and save time on travel. The second guideline is to insert chunks of time into your written schedule.

Treat these chunks of time with respect and insert them into your schedule just as you would any other priority item, like a meeting. When chunks are included in your schedule, they’re part of your routine. For example, you could schedule a chunk of time each morning for making personal contact with clients or colleagues.

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