Do you do put things into "blocks" of time? If so how do you implement that?


I feel the strong need to work more in time-blocks. Do any of you have any advice about how best to do this?

Note that it’s not quite the same thing as Context. In fact given that I do find Contexts rather hard to use, maybe I should get rid of my Contexts altogether??

All suggestions welcome!


Curious what others have to say, but here is what I do.

I work in blocks of time frequently. Here is how I do it.

  1. Look at my task list for the day and decide what I’m going to tackle (today list and next actions)
  2. Move the items to the today list that aren’t already on the list
  3. Decide on my MIT (most important items) for the day. My ONE item that must be finished today in each AREA of my life. Mark that item as FOCUS.
  4. Go to my calendar and block out time to work on each AREA. Normally this means several areas are blocked out for WORK and one or two for PERSONAL, etc. I like to bundle my next actions by area, so I don’t jump around mentally.
  5. I try, but am still working on handling my MIT item first as I go into each block of time. Still working on that.
  6. I also have two standard “Email Processing” blocks on time on my calendar each day. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. I will also use small bits of time here and there to check email and make sure the (my) world has not burned down.

Hope that helps. How do others use blocks of time?

Thanks James - interesting.

OK, so to get clear, your calendar is on a totally different system, yes?
And if so do you carry any data into each block on your calendar saying what you will be doing in each block of time?


PS Here’s something for the procrastinators amongst us:

Although I definitely don’t think I’ve cracked how to execute GTD well, one thing I do that might help others is that I have a special Tag that I apply to ‘live’/‘Do ASAP’ tasks which I call “Frogs”. (From “Eat that Frog” book). For me these are ‘high-resistance’ tasks, which I define as anything dull that I have already put off doing a number of times. (!)

I tackle my Frog tasks slightly differently:

  1. I like to do at least one these 1st thing/after food (when Willpower is stronger)
  2. I sometimes allocate a small ‘reward’ to self for their completion
  3. For BAD Frogs I eventually allocate what I call “DNB” time (“Do Nothing But”) meaning I don’t HAVE to do that task but I am not allowed to do anything of ANY sort else. No phonecalls, no food, no drinks, no interruptions of ANY sort…
    ==> I am do not allow myself to do anything else whatsoever during any DNB time block.
  4. Also…
    From time to time, I allocate a general-purpose ‘Frogs’ time-block. The psychology of this is slightly different. Here I ‘ambush myself’ by allocating say 45 minutes during which time I commit to doing the following:
    A) Sort my task such that whatever Frogs I put them into the order of (roughly) how many times I think I’ve put each them off.
    B) Execute whatever is at the top of the list for the remainder of those 45 minutes.
    This is good because my subconscious mind hasn’t had time to come up with excuses as to why I can’t to whatever that task is just now… and so you just do it!

Potentially a slight sledgehammer to crack a nut but personally I find the above can be extremely useful.


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Yes, I use outlook with several different calendars displayed. The only thing I bring in is the area. So the calendar entry would look something like this. “Personal Next Actions” “Work Next Actions” Etc. I then flip over to the today screen in GTDNext and filter to that area to know what to work on.

Now as per GTD, if I have an item with an explicit deadline I may allocate time to work just on that item and would have time blocked off on my calendar to do that work with the specific task name listed.

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Interesting. So how much of your day is in appointment form i.e. Blocks of time
Also how many different Outlook calendars do you have? And out of interest how are they structured - I mean do you have one calendar for each Area (of Life/of Responsibility)? Do certain major projects warrant having their own Calendar and/or Area?

That will depend on how many meetings I have during the day. I’ll add these next action working times in-between the meetings.

Not quite as complicated as that. I use three. Basically they correspond to the email accounts I have that are capable of receiving invites. Then I also have one for my family calendar where our whole family places their activities. Outlook allows you to look at these calendars separately or combine them all into one view.

The import thing to me is not so much how many or which calendar I put something on. It’s way more important that I can view them all together at once and avoid any accidental overlapping meetings.

I treat the calendar like it is sacred space. If it’s on the calendar there is no question that’s what I’m going to do. You have to become good at making and keeping promises to yourself.

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