Sad. This is the deep end of the “productivity” craze. We are not machines producing products.

The article’s pretty clickbaity. It seems to be looking at very extreme examples (scheduling 3-minute toilet breaks, for instance).

I’ve found a lot of value in time blocking my day. I did it for most of 2018, but fell off the wagon towards the end of the year. When I wasn’t doing it, I found myself wasting a lot more time doing stuff like aimlessly browsing the internet.

For me, at least, the intent is not to lock down what I’ll be doing every moment of the day, but to be more intentional about how to spend my time. I’m perfectly happy to do something other than what’s on the schedule, either if something comes up or if I just feel like doing something different. The key is that by starting with a schedule it encourages me to make a deliberate decision about what I’m doing. I really like the way @MacSparky put it, “A calendar is a soup, not a puzzle.”

For me time blocking only works during some seasons. I can block stuff pretty well in the winter, ok in fall, sometimes ok in summer but not at all in the spring. But I never do tiny blocks, I will block out in half hour increments but that’s as granular as I go. Usually if I block time it’s a couple hours at least or maybe a whole day.

Blocking time in tiny increments is useless to me. The cost to switch contexts or to track the time is not worth it. I can’t see any benefits, only downsides.

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I agree with @ChrisUpchurch. This stuff can help but it needs to be manageable. This thread inspired a blog post where I included a picture of my block schedule for the week as it exists as of this Monday morning.


Yup, my thoughts basically summed up with this sentence. Why are we trying to be machines when humans are so much more brilliant (and complex) than that!

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I think the idea is to be more productive and enjoy it, not turn into a terminator and live for the movements of going through productivity steps…

I read the story and it frightened the life out of me.

My goal is to be productive and enjoy every second of my day while doing so. But this? No way!

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That’s a pretty good description of why I’m time blocking my day. I’ll get more enjoyment out of my day if I read a book, playing a video game I like, or watching a TV show I’ve been looking forward to than if I spend a bunch of time messing around on the internet. If I put “reading” or “TV/video games” in my bullet journal, I’m much more likely to do these things that I enjoy.

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That’s why I do it too,
But I’m not going to schedule everything.
I want (and need) to be able to flexibly makes changes when needed.

And scheduling toilet breaks…? Come on! :slight_smile:

To clarify I’m in no way against time blocking (I do it myself) but this extreme example is hair raising.

I totally agree! This is too much for me

Interesting post David. In the past I’ve taken my tasks in Omnifocus and put them into my calendar. Now what I’m looking to do is create non negotiable items such as working out that don’t really change week to week along with maybe being more general with my time blocks. Not sure though as I tend to front load my week so come Thursday and Friday I’m less busy and can relax or work slower on non-essential tasks.

I feel more like this after reading Cal Newport’s book (as we’ve discussed elsewhere) and that I like knowing that I’m becoming more intentional about my use, and have been better about scheduling times when using social media is appropriate (like now, for instance, during a lunch period) and when to keep my devices in DND mode so I can focus appropriately during work hours.

Scheduling is a MUST-DO type of thing for me, I don’t trust my brain to find the most efficient use of my time without a schedule.

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This was good to see, and reaffirmed my belief that my weekly scheduling craze isn’t just some weird thing that I do, but others do it too.

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Just read this section of the article:

Lui admits that she does have downtime – at the weekends, when she makes the most of her ability to nap on demand. But, from Monday to Friday, her intense schedule leaves little time for basic human stuff such as saying hello to a colleague by the coffee machine or running late. “If someone gets to a 10am meeting at 10.02, I’m not very patient,” she says. It also makes the idea of having children unfathomable.

So…this person sacrifices her whole life to work. And goes even to the toilet on the clock. Sad. I enjoy the coffee machine breaks, take an extended dump on the toilet while playing a level of Alto, make a point of having a proper lunch with collegues (shop talk forbidden) and have enough enery left for the weekend to not sleep through it because of exhaustion. And I am not getting less done.


This doesn’t seem like a very thoughtful existence. Perhaps every minute is scheduled to keep her “demons” at bay - like realizing how dissatisfying her life is.
While I’ve never been a gossip columnist,
I assume it wouldn’t be very deep work.
As I think about it, maybe she is staving off boredom.

Great Minds Discuss Ideas. Average Minds Discuss Events. Small Minds Discuss People. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt (perhaps)

I was talking about @MacSparky’s schedule, not the gal in the article.

Good luck with Alto.

As someone who has in some instances micro-scheduled, this points out the flaw in it. When things don’t go as planned or instead things creep up that you don’t expect, this adds stress in trying to get everything you wanted to get done in more limited time. Personally I have ADHD and so for me sometimes planning in 15 min blocks is useful. That said I’ve decided to create a loose template of my day with wiggle room built in. On the other hand I think of someone who maybe during the work-week gives 100% and then uses the weekends to completely disengage and rewind. That said as it seems in the article this person instead is stressing themselves out.

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I’m in the same boat :slight_smile: I break things down into 20 or 30 minute blocks, but leave myself about 5-10 minutes between blocks to move around a little bit.

Making a schedule and then reviewing it each night is critical for me, but complete adherence is not. I often have to shift blocks around and rearrange things. But the point isn’t adherence, it’s putting in the work while being flexible.

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I just read David’s post. Wow, you really work from 6am to 8pm every day? I also see no stops for breakfast lunch and dinner?

Personally, I try to do something similar in practice.

I organize my to-dos for the day in Things. Then I time box the to-dos on to my calendar. That is to say, I don’t put the to-dos on the calendar, rather I make a block to work on certain related ones together. I tend to combine this with the Pomodoro method: I make the blocks 25mins in time, then schedule breaks, each entry with a reminder.

This sounds bonkers, but it helps me push away procrastination. Any urge I may feel to distract myself can be put off a maximum of 25 mins. Then the break alert cues me in to the fact that I should get up and stretch, go to the bathroom, etc, because when I do get in the zone, I can sometimes look up and it’s 1.5hrs later, and that’s not good for my back.

I don’t do this daily, I usually do it when I’m up against a deadline, as it helps me do that work in the most efficient manner. I should probably do it more frequently, but 1 that requires me doing a good job of chunking up my work before my time boxes can be made, and often times my work is somewhat amorphous and “creative” and I just have to sit and try a million things before I know how the overall task is going to break down. Those days can either be super productive and lost in the work, or the exact opposite: trouble focusing, urge to look at distractions. When that happens, I try the “just do 5 minutes on this and if nothing happens, take 5 minutes off and try again.” I almost never have to take the 5 minutes off, and often realize 45mins have gone by.

But it’s a daily struggle folks.