time blocking calendar

Time Blocking Categories for Peak Performance

August 9, 2021    •   minute read

This article shares time blocking categories for different professions and domain of work:

  1. Writing
  2. Management and Leadership
  3. Marketing
  4. Sales
  5. HR
  6. Training

I will also share my list to give you an idea to build on and develop your own. 

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Time Blocking Categories for Writing Profession

The main job of a writer is, well, to write. But, there are other areas of work that a writer can group for their time blocks, and these are four time-blocks I recommend for writers:

  • Writing
  • Research
  • Reading

Of course, there are many more task categories, such as personal development and networking, but I do not recommend a tedious approach to time blocking. More on why later, but for now, let’s stick with our main task. 

Time Blocking Categories for Management and Leadership Roles

Managers need to lead projects and people, so here is my list for those in management roles:

  • Coaching 
  • Planning and strategy
  • Execution
  • Self-care

There are a million tasks to be grouped for those in a management and leadership role, but time blocking should only be limited to these. I’ll explain why later. For now, let’s stick with the main job of this guide. 

Time Blocking Categories for Marketing Profession

These are three time-blocking categories that marketers should use:

  • marketing campaigns 
  • marketing research
  • marketing information and knowledge management

More on why I recommend only these later; for now, let’s move on to our next group.

Time Blocking Categories for Sales Profession

Sale is probably the most clear-cut profession of all others described in this article. Your job is to sell. With that in mind, here are my recommendations you should use as a salesperson:

  • Lead generation
  • Pitching including sales presentations, calls, and appointments
  • Customer care and support

Feel free to adjust them to your context, but I do not recommend putting everything on your calendar

Time Blocking Categories for HR Profession

HR is one of the most demanding professions. It comes with significant responsibilities and challenges because you work with people, and there is so much paperwork you need to complete. Here is recommendations for HR executives: 

  • Staff learning and development
  • Employee and employer relations 
  • Operationalizing org values

Note that these are my recommended task categories for time blocking and not a list of HR functions. They should be task groups for which you should schedule time.

Time Blocking Categories for Teaching Profession

Teachers’ significant roles are to learn and teach. If you do not learn and practice, you do not have the depth of knowledge to share. Especially in the digital age where information is readily available, teachers’ deep understanding and mastery of the subject matter is necessary. 

Here are my recommended categories for the training profession:

  • Research
  • Reading
  • Teach

If you time-block these task categories regularly, you will be one of the sought-after teachers or trainers. 

General List of Time Blocking Categories 

And as promised, here is the list based on which you can use to help you build your own. 

  • Research
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Meetings
  • Appointments
  • Free time
  • Email and instant messaging
  • Social media
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Admin work
  • Drawing
  • Networking
  • Professional development
  • Painting
  • Programming
  • Coding
  • Generating ideas
  • Customer care
  • Communication
  • Accounting
  • Staffing
  • Payroll
  • Social media
  • Paperwork
  • Designing
  • Self-care

By no means is this a comprehensive list. Your categories might look different if you are an artist, chess player, athlete, or craftsman. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to determining time blocking categories.

Basic Principles for Categorizing Your Time Blocks

As written repeatedly throughout this article, I do not recommend using the time blocking method to schedule every task. According to my previous guide GTD and Time Blocking: Rethinking What Works, the only time blocks you should have are these four:

  1. The ONE thing that matters most for your career and profession
  2. Vacations
  3. Planning and review
  4. Appointments and meetings 

That said, if you still want to categorize your time blocks, here are the principles I’d live by. 

Time-block your one thing.

Identify what one thing that you do every day will make you attain expertise in your profession. For example, a writer writes. A blogger produces content. And, a salesperson sells. And that must get on your time blocking calendar

Categorize your time blocks based on the Key functions of your profession.

What are your key roles and responsibilities? For example, the critical functions of a marketer include the following: 

  • promotion, 
  • marketing campaigns, 
  • marketing research,
  • marketing information management, 
  • product management, 
  • pricing,
  • distribution 

Feel free to reference my recommended lists for the professions I have shared earlier in this article. 

Time block similar tasks.

It is one of the most apparent principles. Similarity takes different forms such as: 

  • The nature of tasks, e.g., email, instant messaging, can be grouped under a communication category. 
  • The task environment, e.g., tasks to do at your desk and tasks to do when on the go
  • Energy consumption, e.g., when you are fresh and can concentrate well, you should do tasks that involve writing or others that require intense focus. 

Different professions also change how we think about similarity, so only you know how your tasks can be grouped based on this similarity principle. 

A Better Approach to Time Blocking

While grouping your time blocks makes the productivity technique flexible to implement, I recommend that Time blocking be part of GTD’s holistic approach to productivity.

Use the GTD workflow to capture, organize and prioritize. And, the time blocking method is for these:

  • Time-specific tasks (It should be for both deadlines imposed by others and your self-imposed deadlines)
  • Purpose-driven tasks/habits
  • Maker’s schedule
  • Expertise-building time blocks
  • Planning and review

The goal is to use GTD to build a state-of-the-art system to organize and prioritize your work. When you no longer need to store tasks and projects in your head, it is easier to engage fully in what you do. The time blocking method further strengthens your ability to attain the flow state and perform at your best

Time blocking has both pros and cons. But, this approach makes time blocking more realistic and practical. Your calendar is not for clutters but sacred territory for something you truly worship.

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