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How much time should you block for meaningful work?

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Photo by Mat Brown on

If you can’t get things done due to the interruptions? Time blocking may be the solution you’re looking for. But how much time should you block? Is 30 min enough? Or are we talking about hours?

Well, it depends on the type of task at hand but in general, we need at least one hour of uninterrupted time (according to research). And 85% of us need at least 1 to 3 hours according to the same research. So this gives you an idea of how much time you should block.

By meaningful work, we mean any work involving deep thinking. Things like coding, design, writing, accounting, etc… For other tasks, such as emails, 15 or 30 mins time blocks will do.

So why I’m telling you this? Because I want you to adapt your days and schedule to have as many time blocks as possible. For example: If during a 4h work schedule (say 2-6 pm), you have a call from 2-3 pm, and another from 4-5 pm, you can assume you’ll not get any meaningful work done. Let me tell you why.

The time between calls is hardly “blockable”. Why? Because you need a few minutes before the call to prepare, and a few minutes after the call to recover. And thus, this ends up eating from your focus time.

Instead, the first thing to do is to try to move one of these calls and increase the time blocks. As a bonus, having two calls one after the other pushes everyone to finish in time. Or you can use the “Sorry I have another call” argument to get out.

As an exercise, open your calendar and see if you can move things around. Try to maximize 1-2h blocks of uninterrupted time to do meaningful work.

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