Clumping, bunching, bundling and blocking


Let me look at my calendar. . . this morning, as soon as I get back from court, I have an appointment with a new client. That’s all I have scheduled so the rest of the day, I’ll review files, do dictation, and catch up on calls and email.

Sound familiar?

It’s nice. We like having a flexible schedule, don’t we? And a little variety keeps things interesting.

But is it the most efficient way to work?

Some people say no. They group their tasks together into clumps or bundles or blocks of time. They’ll make calls for one hour, for example, and then turn to something else.

If you look at their calendar, you’ll see blocks of time throughout the day and week: one hour mid-morning for email, two hours in the afternoon for client meetings, and so on.

They say there are advantages to “time blocking”:

  • You know in advance what you’re going to work on so you’re ready for it
  • You avoid the loss of momentum associated with “context switching”
  • You can schedule time for “deep work”–research or writing, for example, without distractions or feeling like you should be doing something else
  • You are in charge of your schedule; you can pace yourself and your energy
  • You don’t fall down the rabbit hole by checking email all day

Some take this a step further. They dedicate certain days of the week (or half-days) for specific tasks. For example, they might schedule Mondays and Wednesday afternoons for working on files, Tuesdays and Thursdays for seeing clients, Fridays for admin.

Some people schedule entire weeks for specific projects. The second week of each month might be dedicated to all things marketing, for example.

Is time blocking more efficient? Yes. Clearly. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

You may have limited control over your schedule. Your work may naturally have periods of feast and famine–signing up clients every day for a week and then no new clients for the next three weeks, or a two-week trial followed by no court for a month. Or you might simply enjoy a more free-floating approach.

I prefer a less rigid schedule, but I often work in bunches. After I send this, I’ll go through all my email before moving onto something else.

Do what works best for you, even if it’s not “best practices”.

Some people use todo lists, some put everything on their calendar, and some (most?) use both.

But there are outliers who don’t use either one.

They must spend a fortune on sticky-notes.

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