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Be prepared for the unexpected time blocks

time blocks

Sometime ago I wrote about how to block your time the effective way. This post assumed that you could plan and execute your time blocks in an organized manner (especially, you knew well in advance when this time block was coming)

Then there are other types of time blocks that are possible too: unexpected time blocks. They may occur suddenly and without any warning, but with some advance planning you can take advantage of those time blocks too.

How does an unexpected time block differ from an expected one?

First, let me define what a time block is. It is just a segment in your calendar, reserved for a certain task. To make your time blocks even more effective, you try to find your most productive environment for the task, do necessary preparation (both physical and mental) and find the appropriate date and time for it.

However, things get a bit trickier when you have an unexpected time block in your hands. For example, all of a sudden you realize, that your home is quiet and you have a chance to work on your personal projects.

That one extra free time is luxury for any work-at-home-dad and based on your preparedness, you can take full advantage of that moment (for example by working on your business, personal projects, reading a business/personal development book, taking a nap …).

To further clarify the differences between unexpected and expected time blocks, the following distinctions arise:

Unexpected-Time-Blocks

As you can see, there are certain differences between those two. However, with some simple planning, you can take maximum advantage of those unexpected time blocks as soon as they arise.

Can you predict unexpected time blocks?

Although the nature of unexpected time blocks is just like that – unexpected – you might still have some clues on what might  be coming.

For example, you can expect that your wife and child (or children) are taking an afternoon nap most of the days. Even if you cannot be sure about it, you can still do a game plan on what action to take if a free moment occurrs.

Another way of predicting is to listen carefully what your spouse is saying (and yes, you should do it in any circumstance, but especially when it comes to time blocks :)) and if there are any hints given between the lines.

For instance, if your spouse is saying that he/she might do some shopping and is taking your child with him/her, you can expect that there is a time block coming.

In general, you will learn to expect those extra time blocks to occur, if you keep your ears open. And better you come at it, the more extra time there is available for you.

Also, when you predict something occurring, you are also mentally expecting it to happen (thus you mind starts to prepare for the coming task in advance).

How to prepare for an additional free time in advance?

Even if time blocks may come unexpectedly, there are certain ways that you can take advantage of them.

 1. Know your next action

You have to always keep in mind, what you want to do next. That way you are not left pondering your options when there is some additional free time in your hands.

2. Predict and expect

If possible, predict and expect if a time block will occur soon. As stated in the chapter “Can you predict unexpected time blocks?”, there is still a chance to find out about these blocks in advance (at least in certain scenarios).

3. Act right away!

When you have some extra time in your hands, you have to act immediately! There is not even a minute to waste.

If you know your next action already, then taking action becomes easier. And the faster you start working on your task, the better chance you have to get it done before the time block ends.

4. Use a timer

If your time block/action happens on a computer, you should make it even more effective by using a timer.

Timer is a great way to improve your productivity – sometimes even dramatically.

5. Feel gratitude

Finally, many times we may overlook this, but it is important to feel gratitude for the extra time block you had. I don’t know about you, but it gives me a good feeling inside and this good feeling makes me even more productive.

Especially in the WAHD setting, some extra time to work on our projects is like a heaven sent, so appreciate the extra time that was available to you.

An example: What and how

All this time block talk is fine, but to wrap things up, I wanted to tell you my latest unexpected time block experience.

Just couple of days ago, I came home from work. The moment I stepped inside my home, I realized that that it was quiet and all the lights were turned down: my wife and our baby were taking a nap.

It didn’t take me even a half-second to go to my work room, close the door behind me, turn on my laptop and start working on some SEO (search engine optimization) tasks for my redesigned blog. Our home was quiet, so I was able to work without interruptions for an hour.

Since I knew what my next action was and I acted immediately, I was able to get some work done. I felt grateful for this time block which I was able to use for my personal tasks.

Conclusion

Even if your days could be full of distraction and you feel you don’t get anything done, keep your ears open for some unexpected time blocks.

They will (as the term implies) surprise you but if you have prepared for them at least a bit, you can take the maximum advantage  and get some work done.

 

Your next tasks:

1. Put this blog post into action!

  • Know always the action you are about to take next
  • Take action on your task – as soon as an unexpected time block occurs
  • Learn to predict when these unexpected time blocks might happen

2. Share your experiences and tips on the comment area:

  • When was the last time an unexpected time block occurred for you?
  • Your tips on taking the full advantage of unexpected time blocks

3. Spread the word:

  • I would appreciate it if you share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn or on BizSugar (click the vertical share bar on the left).
Timo Kiander
 

  • Hi Timo, I have set time blocks and things always happen to them. They get pushed out, reset to another day and so much more. One in specific is my video blogging. I like to do my videos in a business suit so I do it after I teach. This is a very productive block for me seeing I’m already in a suit. So this is normally Tuesdays but of teaching gets res scheduled so will my video blogging.

    • Timo Kiander

      Brian,

      Do you shoot many videos at once?

      I’m currently shooting just one video at a time, but I want to become more productive on that activity too.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • My unexpected blocks of time usually come when I am not at home but waiting for something, like a doctor or for my car to be fixed. I always try to bring a work document to read or answer emails. Sometimes I work on my to do list. That way I can make waiting time less annoying and more useful… At home I am usually the person taking the child to the store so that my husband can have the unexpected block of time!

    • Timo Kiander

      Kristen,

      Thanks for bringing this up!

      There are many moments in our daily life which can be taken advantage of. With little planning, they can be turned from complete time wasters to productivity boosters.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Great action steps here and advice here, Timo! #’s 2 and 3 are critical to not getting sidetracked.

    I’ve found that the most beneficial thing for me, when it comes to the unexpected, is to know that it is not of my making… otherwise it would be filed under time management =)

    Thats just the natural thing about order of the day. It has it’s ups and it’s downs, and having that mental toughness, or preparedness really can help.

    • Timo Kiander

      Jason,

      I agree!

      Knowing your next action is crucial if you want to take advantage of some unexpected free time.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • I was very happy to seek out this net-site.I wished to thanks on your time for this glorious read!! I positively enjoying every little bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you weblog post. I feel that it is best to write extra on this subject, it may not be a taboo topic but generally persons are not sufficient to speak on such topics.

    • Timo Kiander

      Dawn,

      Great to hear that you loved my post :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Love this idea! We were discussing it in the podcast. Can’t wait to edit it, I will grasp some time tomorrow for it.

    It’s such a great thing when you can go into work mode and out of it, in a matter of seconds. Well getting out of it is not such a problem, but never the less :)

    I used to get in this mode while I was working and traveling. Still remember the good old days when I was working on my Lenovo Laptop PC on the Akropolis, with a USB dongle. I had to grove into work urgently, and I didn’t pay much attention where I was.

    So yea, Athens conquered with the laptop :)

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