Time Management

The Secret to Becoming 10 Times More Productive? Block Out Time.

The Secret to Becoming 10 Times More Productive? Block Out Time.
Image credit: Arjan Richter

Want to achieve massive success as an entrepreneur? You need to block out time. I first learned about blocking time from a great friend and mentor whom I mention in my book The A to Z of Being an Entrepreneur.

During one of our many weekend brunches at his place, I stumbled upon something that resembled a plan for the week only it was insanely strategic down to the minute. Impressive, I thought to myself. Then I noticed the letters "BT" appeared more times than I could count. I was curious about what that meant and that afternoon I was introduced to a concept that completely transformed the way I work as an entrepreneur.

So what is "block time"?

Related: 3 Steps to Recovering Stolen Time: Confront Your 'Time Bandits' 

It's actually a pretty simple concept. It refers to time that you block out to work on one extremely important project and absolutely nothing else. The only things you can do when you take a break are eat, drink or sleep until the project is complete.

It sounds easy, right? Wrong. The first time I tried it, I epically failed. Within one hour I had checked my email three times because my BlackBerry vibrated out of control. When I told my friend about my experience, he laughed continuously for about five minutes. He then proceeded to say, "Come over this weekend. I'll teach you." 

My "block time" experiment was allocated to completing a fashion book I was writing called The Short Wedding Dress. He asked me to bring over as many books as possible on the subject and print out any resources from the Internet I planned to use.

I did as I was told. When I got to his door, he collected my bag and every piece of technology in it, including my phone, laptop, BlackBerry playbook and Kindle. As replacements for these items, I was allowed the printouts, books, a pen and plain paper. He showed me to the room where I would be working for the next four hours.

I walked in and found a typewriter. I was dumbfounded.

The great thing about using a typewriter, though, was that I couldn’t fully erase mistakes as I would typing on a computer. And upon rereading things I had initially discarded, I could pick out bits that were actually valuable. I can honestly tell you that in those four hours, my life changed for the better.

Not only did I actually get some work done. It also was great work. I continued this block-time habit and completed the book in just three weeks. It was 30,000 words long and I was beside myself with joy in what I had achieved.

My staff couldn’t understand it when I told them the book was complete. I was starting to doubt myself, too, but a quick trip to my desk and scanning through all the pages made me believe it again. It's safe to say, blocking time is a habit that I have become addicted to as an entrepreneur. 

Here's how to block time in four easy steps:

Related: 4 Tips to Optimize Your Time as an Entrepreneur

1. Define your goal. 

Whether it's completing a book, writing a set number of blog posts or preparing a business proposal, define what it is you're trying to achieve first and set a completion date.

2. Collect any research material.

Spend some time gathering absolutely all the resources required to complete a project in preparation for your time of taking action.

3. Eliminate all unrequired technology.

This sounds insane but try it: Rid your work counter of mobile phones, put land lines on silent, turn off the Internet connection and use a computer only if you absolutely need it. For example, if you need to use software like Photoshop.

4. Achieve massive success.

Remember, during the "block time" the only things you can do when you're not working on the project are eating, drinking and sleeping. If you follow a mantra like that catchy song by Fatboy Slim and just eat, sleep, work and repeat, you will be doing block time correctly.

I highly recommend trying it, whether you're a skilled entrepreneur or just starting out. You will be stunned at the results you end up with. 

Related: Busy Is the Enemy of Productive. Which Are You?