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Giving every minute a job

Dom Habersack

January 6, 2021

Work always fills the time set aside for it. If I estimate a task to take two days, guess how long it takes me to finish that task. It is rare that I get something done early. There is always more I can do, even if that little bit extra does not add any more value. When I decide to “work” for 8 hours, I end up wasting a lot of that time on email and Twitter. Those activities feel like work, but are not the best use of my time.

I started doing time block planning recently. I split my day into blocks that I assign activities like writing or checking email to. By giving every minute of my day a job, I am less tempted by distractions. I don’t have to keep my inbox open all day if I know I’ll check it in an hour.

Even the most productive people can do at most four hours of deep work per day. Let’s be honest, that eighth hour of work is rarely the most productive, right? I put low-effort activities at the end of my workday to account for that. I also put fun activities like exercise and family time on my calendar. That way, the things that are really important to me happen as well.

Maybe I went a bit overboard when I put EVERYTHING on my calendar. Apart from work tasks alone, I also have brushing my teeth and taking a break on there. I’m sure I’ll have to tweak this schedule as time goes on. It’s not a rigid system that I have to stick to no matter what happens. If I am done with something early or need a little more time, I adjust the day’s schedule accordingly. Unforeseen events will still happen, and I’ll be able to change the rest of my day as a reaction to that. But I am making those decisions intentionally instead of waiting for eight hours to pass.

For now, this is what my schedule looks like:

This is what my calendar looks like for now.

I am only a few days into this iteration of my schedule, which is too early to judge how it’s going. I’ll let you know in a few weeks!

If you think this could work for you, I can recommend the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. It’s a great read for any knowledge worker that helped guide me a lot over the last few months.

– Dom

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