Among many others out there, “time blocking” is an approach to organizing your time.1 As the name suggests, it normally involves visual “blocks” that show how you’ve decided to budget your time.
Time blocking isn’t as useful if your approach to work needs to be highly flexible. (The larger principle of budgeting time still is. The application just needs to take a different form.)
Where you do have a known amount of time to budget, though, time blocking can be a hugely valuable practice. It can help you get the most out of the time you have. It can also help you see when you might be planning too much activity for too little time.
Time blocking isn’t tied to a specific tool. You can time block quite well on paper.
Or if you use a digital calendar, you might want to time block there. At a basic level, that’s as simple as creating an appointment with yourself.
Time Blocking with Google Calendar Alone
That’s what I did in Google Calendar for a good while. But I found two downsides to having time blocks in Google Calendar and tasks for those blocks in Todoist:
- I had time blocks on my Google Calendar that didn’t reflect well what was in my Todoist task list. Often, that meant I had too much to do for the time I’d allotted.
- I would find myself doing duplicate work to show on my Google Calendar what I already had in my Todoist task list. That helped with the overcommitment. But it also meant I was managing my system when I could be doing what I wanted to get done.
For me, a great solution turned out to be having Todoist put tasks on my Google Calendar.
Then, I could see on my calendar the impact of setting a certain task for a given day. And I only had to manage tasks (and their blocks) in one place.
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Time Blocking on Google Calendar with Todoist
Todoist’s Google Calendar integration allows for different preferences in how you want to use the two together.
What I’ve found most effective is to first create a new calendar inside your Google Calendar account named something appropriate (e.g., “Todoist”).
Then, in Todoist’s guide for setting up a Google Calendar integration,
- follow steps 1–7.1.
- When you get to step 7.2, choose to sync tasks from “All projects.” This way, no matter where you file a task in Todoist, it can still show up on your Google Calendar.
- For step 7.3, choose to have tasks you create on Google Calendar go to your Todoist Inbox. Google Calendar won’t know all the projects you have in Todoist. So, it’s easiest just to send tasks created in Google Calendar to the Todoist Inbox and sort them into projects from there. But you can ignore this feature and add your tasks in Todoist only. If you do so, you get the added benefit that, whenever a Todoist task appears in Google Calendar, it will have a link back to that task in Todoist (on the words “View source” at the bottom of the calendar event). That makes it even easier to reference and complete the task from your Google Calendar.
- For steps 7.4–7.7, I find the following settings a good place to start.
Of course, you can choose different preferences or come back later to tweak them.
Once you have an initial setup for the integration, though, click “Connect” in Todoist (step 8) to complete the process.
With these settings:
- Any time you add a due time to a task in Todoist, you’ll also see that task on your Google Calendar. The due time in Todoist will be the event’s start time in Google Calendar.
- You won’t sync to your Google Calendar any tasks without a due time (which they’ll all have, by definition, if you’re using them to time block).
- You can easily change a task’s duration in Google Calendar. That will give you a visual representation of the block of time that task should take to complete.
- Completed tasks will automatically leave your Google Calendar.
This will leave you with a Todoist task layer that you can then show or hide in your Google Calendar to help what you want to do when. And just as important, it can help you plan what not to do in order to devote more adequate time to higher priority activities.