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The Ultimate Time Blocking Template

Learn how to avoid the most common time blocking mistakes, and use our handy time-blocking template to make this your most productive year yet.

Bonnie Richards
Writer at Motion
Feb 13, 2024
Table of contents

Time blocking could be your saving grace — but only if you’re good at it.

This productivity technique helps to minimize distractions and maximize your focus so you can get more done in less time. However, a lot of people jump into time blocking without understanding how to make this strategy work for their schedule.

In this article, you’ll learn how to time block like a pro and avoid some of the most common mistakes people make. Plus, we’ve put together an intuitive time-blocking template for you to tailor to your needs.

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Why time blocking doesn’t work for you (yet)

Time blocking involves carving out a set amount of time (called a block) to focus on a single activity or group of similar activities. In theory, this helps you remain focused because you aren’t changing tracks every few minutes.

In practice, many people try time blocking and immediately fall into common traps that render their time blocks ineffective.

But discrediting time blocking just because you’ve used a bad technique is the same as calling a recipe bad when you swapped sugar for salt. The recipe isn’t the problem — your execution is.

Here are some reasons why time blocking might not have worked for you yet:

List time blocking mistakes

‎You aren’t prioritizing your tasks

The amount of time you set aside for tasks should reflect their importance and urgency. Prioritizing your tasks before planning your schedule means you’ll know to set aside longer time blocks for important tasks and limit the amount of time you set aside for smaller, less important tasks.

You’re scheduling ineffectively

Effectively scheduling your tasks is a major component of time blocking that can take some time to nail down.

To start, try not to leave wide gaps of time between your blocks, and don’t schedule unimportant tasks before important ones.

Motion’s AI calendar organizes your time blocks according to their deadlines and priority levels, helping create a schedule that accurately reflects your professional and personal priorities.

You’re trying to multitask

Time blocking is built on the understanding that a block of time is reserved for a single task or type of task. Trying to multitask within a time block means your attention is divided and constantly shifting — which defeats the purpose of the method.

Take a monotasking or task-batching approach to allow yourself to become fully immersed in the task at hand.

You aren’t planning realistically

You wouldn’t set aside only 30 minutes to complete a marathon, so why are you doing the same with big projects?

Unrealistic time blocking

‎To time block effectively, you must learn to budget your time accurately. Don’t underestimate how long it will take you to complete small tasks. On the other hand, don’t give yourself eight hours to work on something that you could realistically finish in five hours.

You aren’t considering your entire to-do list

Your blocks of time need to account for all items on your task list, not just the important ones. If you’re going to spend time answering emails or walking your dog, block off that time in your daily schedule so you don’t accidentally overbook yourself.

You’re procrastinating

Sometimes, people just waste time.

Procrastination can stem from low self-confidence, a fear of failure, anxiety, or a lack of structure. Notice when you’re tempted to procrastinate throughout the week to determine the best way to stop procrastinating.

A common time-waster for many is deciding on what to work on next. To manage this, why not outsource your planning to Motion’s AI-powered task manager and take some of the pressure off yourself?

How to build a time-blocking template for your workweek

If you have a consistent schedule, using a time-blocking template can cut down on the time you need to spend planning every week. Templates can help you free up time for other, more productive activities or rest.

custom time-blocking schedule template is designed by you, for you. You’ll look at your availability, your immovable meetings and appointments, and your priorities, and create a general time-blocking schedule to reuse — and tweak as necessary — every week.

Creating a custom time-blocking template specific to your workflow has the following benefits:

  • You don’t have to try to squeeze into a schedule that doesn’t suit your job or meet your needs.
  • You don’t have to plan from scratch every week, meaning you can save hours of precious time every year.
  • You can tailor your template to reflect your energy and motivation levels every day of the week.
  • The template will take into account your lifestyle and habits, including travel times, family requirements, and personal responsibilities.

Consider the following factors as you build your template:

Your working hours

Your job should remain within the confines of your working hours, as this will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. This is particularly important if your working hours don’t follow the traditional 9 to 5, in-office setup.

When outlining your working hours, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Your travel time to and from the office
  • Your lunch breaks
  • Your personal tasks (picking your kids up from school, going to the gym, etc.)

Time blocking example working hours

‎At this stage, you’ll have marked larger time intervals for your working hours and set aside smaller blocks of time for rest. Including rest time from the beginning of your planning helps to prevent overworking and protect yourself from burnout.

Your habits

Do you focus better in the morning or evening? Do you feel more motivated before or after having lunch?

When designing a template for yourself, you’ll get to accommodate those preferences.

Consider when in the day you’d like to tackle deep work — concentration-heavy, high-stakes work that requires full focus and undistracted time — and shallow work — low-stakes administrative tasks that need to get done but require minimal mental effort.

Some people focus best in the morning, diving right into their most demanding tasks. Others prefer a slower start to their work days and would rather get their administrative tasks out of the way before tackling bigger tasks.

Working with your habits in mind will make your schedule feel like a natural daily routine, giving you a better chance of sticking to your plan.

Time blocking deep vs shallow work

‎It’s also a good idea to include some extra time between your time blocks. These small “buffer” chunks of time give you wiggle room if a task takes longer than anticipated and allow you to transition between tasks without feeling rushed.

Your immovables

Your “immovables” are time blocks that can’t be shifted around because they’re outside of your control.

Immovable blocks of time could include gym classes, morning routines, lunch times, recurring meetings, appointments, children’s school times, or tasks that have to happen at specific times of the day.

Time blocking immovable tasks

‎Time blocking your immovables shows you the remaining time you have to arrange your deep work, shallow work, and meetings.

Your colleagues

Consider which tasks and appointments rely on others’ availability. Collaborative work and team meetings need to fit into everyone’s schedules, which means you’ll need to coordinate with your colleagues before building a hard-and-fast time-blocking template.

Finding a time that suits multiple people can be incredibly difficult, especially when team members work in different time zones. Fortunately, Motion’s collaborative scheduling tool can help teams find time for group work by comparing everyone’s availability and adjusting individual tasks to accommodate the team’s needs.

If you interact with clients directly, finding a suitable time to chat can also require extra flexibility and care on your part. Client meetings are often less predictable than meetings with colleagues, which can make it tricky to set aside definite time blocks for them.

Another factor to consider is task dependencies. Do you have to complete a certain task before you can tackle the next one? If so, your template should reflect that.

For example, you’ll need to collect customer feedback before you can organize it and forward it to your product development team.

The best way to time block

As useful as manual time-blocking templates can be, they’re quickly becoming obsolete thanks to automated planners and the power of AI.

Time blocking templates miss the mark when faced with last-minute changes or delays. One emergency can throw off your entire week’s plans and render your template useless.

Creating a template can be a good introduction to time blocking. However, if you want to stick with time blocking and remove as much friction from your planning as possible, use an automated task manager like Motion to run with an optimized schedule.

Motion helps by:

  • Creating your schedule in seconds
  • Arranging tasks and time slots according to deadlines and priority levels
  • Reprioritizing your tasks to accommodate last-minute changes
  • Facilitating team collaboration by finding time slots that accommodate multiple schedules
  • Alerting you if you’re overbooked or at risk of missing a deadline

Build a time-blocking template with Motion

If you want a time-blocking system that can adapt to the flexible nature of everyday life, then it’s time to try out Motion.

Motion is a powerful task management tool that streamlines the time-blocking process through AI and automation. Instead of manually arranging your tasks and time blocks every time your schedule changes, you insert your deadlines, priorities, and meetings into Motion’s software, and it will arrange your schedule for you.

This tool easily accommodates changes and updates, adjusting your to-do list in seconds to maximize your productivity.

Did your meeting run overtime? No problem! Motion will shift your tasks accordingly and let you know if you’re in danger of missing a deadline.

Have you finished all your tasks for the current time block? Amazing! Motion will move your next tasks forward to help keep your momentum going.

Motion calendar functionality

‎What are project templates?

A project template in Motion is a set of time blocks, meeting slots, and tasks specific to a certain type of project.

When you start a new project, you’ll use the appropriate project template to speed up your planning and jump into action.

Project templates enable you to capture and reuse the time-blocking structure and tasks in existing projects. With a few clicks, you can carry an existing structure over to new projects to shave off hours of unnecessary planning.

Why are project templates useful?

Project templates save both time and effort when you’re planning the schedule for a project. Once you’ve found a schedule that works for a specific type of project, you can turn it into a template in Motion.

Motion then replicates your plan with the click of a button. And if you’re a project manager, you can even quickly replicate plans (and time blocks) for your team members.

Essentially, you plan once and are organized forever.

Each template comes preloaded with tasks you’ve defined. For example, a “client onboarding” template would include tasks like the signing of the client contract, the client kickoff call, and the client handoff.

Project template motion

‎How can I use project templates in Motion?

Creating project templates in Motion is simple because Motion does most of the work for you. All you need to do is tell the software:

  • Your tasks
  • The priority of different tasks
  • The length of your time blocks
  • The amount of time the project can take to complete

Motion will use this info to create a schedule for you — which you can easily save as a template to use on future projects.

The template function isn’t limited to project-specific timelines, either — you can create a template from your weekly schedule so you don’t have to input repetitive daily tasks.

Motion makes time management simple

Too many people give up on time blocking after making a few simple mistakes. Combining the concept of time blocking with the sophistication and power of Motion gives you a winning time management combo that’ll set you up for lasting success.

If time blocking hasn’t worked for you yet, try implementing the advice above and see the difference it makes. Once you’ve built a weekly time-blocking template for yourself and signed up for Motion, you’ll be able to plan your entire week in moments.

Motion makes it easy to carry your personalized time-blocking template from week to week, using the power of AI to schedule new tasks and projects around your preferred structure. If you’re ready to be 25% more productive each day, try Motion for free.

Bonnie Richards
Bonnie Richards holds an MBA in marketing and management. From articles in Inc. Magazine to crafting high-converting copy, Bonnie's writes about organization, time management, and productivity. Bonnie's free time revolves around three rescue pets and her seven-year-old budding comedian son.
Written by Bonnie Richards