5 Advanced Time Blocking Strategies

Introduction

In our last Business Bites, we tackled the challenges of balancing the maker’s schedule with the manager’s schedule. Today, we’ll dive deeper into advanced time-blocking strategies to create more time for what matters most to you and elevate your productivity. Here are five strategies to help you take control of your time and maximize your efficiency.

A person sitting at a desk with a large calendar in front of them, planning their day. The desk has a laptop, a notepad, and a cup of coffee. There ar

Creative Before Reactive

Save yourself from your inbox and set the stage for flow by being creative before reactive. Make a Map the night before (in any format you like) with a list of projects, tasks, and activities you plan to complete the next day. At the top of your Map, identify the Frog to eat for breakfast—the most important task you must complete before anything else. I used to jot my Map on a daily notecard, but after Max was born, I switched to using Notion because I can update it with one hand while rocking him to sleep. Find what works best for you.

Play a Game: Try to go as long as possible before checking your email. If you usually check it from bed, start small and wait until you’ve brushed your teeth. If you check it within the first hour, try waiting 2-3 hours until after you eat the Frog. The longer you can hold off, the more you can embrace the morning maker’s schedule and feel more accomplished each day. When our clients shift from reactive mode—dealing with everyone else’s to-do list and problems—to creative mode, they take control of their time, attention, and energy to create the future.

Use Technology on Your Terms

Leverage tools that enhance your workflow without causing interruptions or distractions. Turn off all app notifications. Pause Slack notifications. Put your phone in airplane mode during maker mode. Delete that one app—you know, the one with the pretty pictures or funny videos that sucks you in for 5-25 minutes each day. It’s not restorative; it’s numbing you.

Not so fun fact: Did you know wasting 25 minutes a day adds up to 2 years of your life? Is scrolling a good use of 2 years?

Whether it’s a sophisticated project management tool like Notion or Asana, a simple to-do list in the Notes app, or a notebook and pen, ensure the technology aligns with your workflow preferences and boosts your productivity. I use Notion to create my Map and Frog, keeping a prioritized list handy for both schedules. The Heroic app helps me set and hit daily targets in energy, work, and love, and the Growth Day app helps me examine my day each night before bed.

Clear “Rules” for Internal and External Communication

Transparency about your scheduling philosophy is crucial for team alignment. This clarity sets expectations, letting your team know when they can have your full attention and when you need to focus. If you're paying people a lot of money for knowledge work, you’ll get a higher ROI by giving them more maker time for deep work. The same ROI applies to your clients. For a few laughs, watch this 2-minute video about The Client.

All of Malloy Industries proposals and contracts with growth-stage B2B SaaS companies hiring fractional sales executives clearly state joint accountabilities, including setting expectations that we will “respond to Client by phone call or text within 4 hours and email within 48 hours during 9am-5pm ET business hours, and not be available during dedicated family time, holiday vacations, and on weekends.” Setting clear boundaries upfront makes them easier to enforce.

Pro Tip: Tell people you have “rules” when they cross your boundaries because people respect hard “rules” more than soft “boundaries” and don’t push back. If a client asks for a meeting at 6pm ET, I say, “Unfortunately, I have a rule that I don't do meetings after 5pm to prioritize family dinner time. Does next Tuesday at 4:30pm or 4pm work for you?”

Cultural Impact of Schedule Balancing

Mastering your schedule's balancing act does more than just enhance personal productivity; it sets a cultural tone across your company. It shows that you value deep work and respect the need for varied workflows, encouraging everyone to find and maintain their optimal balance. Don’t force your team to use the exact same maker and manager schedules you prefer. Make space for your team to test, learn, and iterate on their scheduling rules with autonomy.

Create Your Culture: Share these Business Bites with your team and encourage them to experiment with 1-3 of these strategies to see what feels right. Bonus points if they report back on what's working well in upcoming team meetings to spread good ideas and productive habits throughout the company.

Crush It Day

Visualize a full day dedicated to high-impact activities that matter most to you, working ON the business, without any meetings or emails. Can you imagine how much you could accomplish and how productive you’d feel with one fully uninterrupted Crush It Day?

The real secret is the impact it has on your team. Set expectations with your team and clients that they won’t hear from you for 24 hours. If they know you’re not available, they start figuring things out on their own. They learn to think and bring you solutions instead of just problems. Teach them the 1-3-1 method: present 1 problem with the root cause identified, 3 possible solutions, and 1 recommended solution. This one-day disconnect empowers your operations to thrive without you while you’re still productive.

Action Item: Open your calendar, jump ahead a few weeks until you see a blank day (you may need to adjust a couple of weekly, recurring meetings), and block it off as “Crush It Day.” Leading up to your next Crush It Day, you can create a running list of important not urgent projects to know what to focus on when it's your time to Crush It!

Conclusion

If you don't take control of your calendar and time, then someone else will. With these 5 strategies in mind, it's time for you to open up your calendar and experiment with new ways of working smarter.

You need to assess where you are, where you want to go, and how you're going to get there. With more time blocks for deep work, you'll get there faster.

Speed is a force.

Do it now.

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