How to Be More Productive: Time Blocking and Google Calendar

Being productive and staying productive have been issues for me in the past. I get easily overwhelmed thinking of all the tasks I need to complete by the end of the week. I’ve tried many approaches to managing those tasks and the stress that comes from them. I’ve tried monthly planners, wall hanging calendars and even sticky notes attached to my desk, but none of those seemed to help me consistently stay on top of the work I needed to do. 

As a college student balancing school assignments, work, extracurriculars and a social life, finding time to complete all those items – and do them well – can appear daunting. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what methods work best for you because life doesn’t slow down after we leave college. Finding the right task management methods now will save you lots of stress and panic in the future. 

For me, I’ve found that time blocking and scheduling those blocks through Google Calendar, help me stay on top of all of the assignments I have to complete. 

What is Time Blocking? 

Time blocking is a productivity method where you plan out your day by dividing the tasks you have to do into small, manageable sections. During each “block,” you dedicate your full attention to completing the specific task at hand. 

This method ensures that you stay focused on the current task and limits distractions from other things that might get in the way. Instead of having a to-do list of all the things you need to get done by the end of the day or week, you now have time set aside each day to work on all of those items. 

Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, is a huge proponent of time blocking and writes: 

“Sometimes people ask why I bother with such a detailed level of planning. My answer is simple: it generates a massive amount of productivity. A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.”

How to Begin Time Blocking for Students

As students, we have specific times we have to go to class, organizations that meet at certain times and other priorities that we don’t have control over when the tasks must be completed. On top of all of that, we have to complete work outside of the classroom, so it’s crucial that we manage our time well. 

First, figure out what each of your tasks and events are that you don’t have control over – class times, organizations or club meetings, work, etc. Include the time it takes to commute to each of these events, so you know exactly how much time you need to dedicate to completing them. 

Then, determine the times of day that you are most productive. Schedule your most important tasks that need to be completed during those peak productivity times. This includes, schoolwork, studying and other school related tasks. 

Then schedule in time to sleep, eat and do your morning and evening routine. Don’t forget to schedule time for self-care because you need a break in the hectic routine of your day. 

Though this may seem over the top, having a schedule for when to complete these mundane tasks will ensure that you aren’t forgetting to leave time for basic necessities. The point of time blocking is to manage stress and complete tasks in an organized fashion, but you can’t forget to rest and take a moment to breathe. 

You don’t need to follow this guide to the letter. Time blocking is not a set in stone rule that you must always follow. Sometimes you’ll finish a task earlier or later than you expected, and that’s fine. You can be flexible, you can answer an email that just came in even if you’re not in your “answering emails” time block. You created this guide for yourself, and you can alter it to meet your needs. 

Using Google Calendar to Time Block

While there’s many apps and websites built to help you time block, I’ve found that Google Calendar is an amazing program to help you schedule out your day. Let’s take a look at how you can set up your Google Calendar to maximize your productivity. 

Add calendars in the bottom left corner of the screen. You can customize these however you’d like, but I choose to create a school, work, studying/schoolwork, organizations and “me time” calendar. 

Then, add the times you have class, the commute time it takes to get there, and plan ahead on when you have tests and assignments due. By planning out your schedule on all of your dues dates, you can stay up to date on when assignments are due and you can plan ahead to figure out how much time you need to dedicate towards studying and working on those assignments. 

Then, add what times you sleep, eat and do your daily routines. 

By creating this foundation of a basic routine with your priorities listed out, you’re ready to begin time blocking your weeks. I typically work one to two weeks in advance because things are subject to change. I go through and add in the time it will take for me to complete the assignments and assign myself days to work on them. 

Here’s what a typical week looks for me in my Google Calendar. 

I’d like to point out that I didn’t add things like snack breaks or time to take a break in between assignments. However, it’s important that you take these breaks to avoid feeling burnt out and exhausted from constantly moving between tasks. 

Ultimately, time blocking and setting up your Google Calendar are guides to help you become more productive and manage the stress of a busy life. You’re allowed to alter your schedule to fit your needs and adjust this method to whatever works best in your individual life. 

Morgan Jones
Morgan Jones
I'm a public relations student at the University of Georgia with a passion for creative storytelling and content creation. The work I produce reflects my love for music, art and culture, and I strive to create content that resonates with college students. Learn more about Morgan


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