- March 24, 2021
- by Kate Borucka
- One comment
Time boxing, singletasking, time chunking, deep work—there are many names for time blocking. It’s an effective form of time management used by many people. It lets you create an ideal schedule and prioritize work.
Here’s your short guide on time blocking and the best tools. Let’s dig deeper!
- What Is Time Blocking and How Does It Work?
- Why Block Time?
- What Are The Best Time Blocking Apps?
- Quick Time Blocking Tips
What Is Time Blocking and How Does It Work?
Time blocking is simple. It’s a time management technique that helps you become aware and strategic of how you spend your time. In time blocking you divide your day into chunks of time.
During these blocks of time, you focus on the deep work and do one task with a specific time limit. It’s like putting your to-do list on the calendar and stretching it throughout the day.
Time blocking is an easy method of creating a personalized schedule that many people use to track time and plan work.
Why Block Time?
Time blocking is a simple and great form of managing time. It has many benefits and here are the most important:
- Eliminating distractions and energy-consuming interruptions
- Achieving goals on time because you’re more dedicated to your work
- It helps to overcome Parkinson’s Law
- It’s easier to make better estimates because you learn exactly how you spend your time
- You can easily meet deadlines
- Helps to avoid multitasking and context switching because you’re doing one thing at a time
- It’s good for your health—with time blocking you can set aside time for breaks so your body and eyes can rest from the negative impacts of sitting in one place and looking at the screen
There are many more advantages and they all depend on your personal use of time blocking, preferences, lifestyle, and workstyle.
👉 Check also the time budgeting technique.
What Are The Best Time Blocking Apps?
After being popularized by Cal Newport in his book Deep Work, time blocking is gaining popularity. People want to be more productive, get tasks done better, and spend time on the most important things in their lives.
“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.”
One of the easiest ways to start your adventure with time blocks is to use dedicated apps. They’re easy to use, user-friendly, and can help you get done anything you need.
If you’re looking for the best time blocking apps, you’re in the right place! Here are top tools that’ll help up you stay focused and create a perfect schedule.
Best for: tracking productivity, billable time, and creating better estimates
TimeCamp is a free time tracker. And even though it’s not a typical time blocking app, it can help you perfectly estimate the time necessary to get all your tasks done. Accurate estimates help to create a perfect schedule, save time and money.
Here are the main features of TimeCamp:
- Automatic, unobtrusive time tracker working in the background
- Accurate timesheets automatically created by TimeCamp
- Daily and graphical weekly view with colorful time blocks
- Comprehensive and detailed reports
- Tracking billable and non-billable hours
- Tags feature allows you to categorize tasks and priorities
- And many more
Integrations: TimeCamp integrates with popular productivity, project management, CRM, accounting tools, and many more
Available for: web, desktop (Windows, macOS, Linux), native mobile apps (Android, iOS)
Pricing: The free version comes with unlimited users, projects and tasks, tags, one integration, and more. Pricing starts at $5.25 user/month (paid annually).
👉 Sign up for the free trial and plan your schedule better with TimeCamp!
Best for: advanced time blocking with granular options
Fantastical is a calendar app for Apple devices. It’s a lightweight time blocking solution for scheduling events, tasks, meetings, travels, and other activities.
Fantastical has several helpful features that will allow you to personalize the app to better plan everyday:
- You can add events, tasks with due dates, see details for location event
- Weather forecast supported by AccuWeather so you can get reminders to take an umbrella if the rain is coming
- For a comfortable viewing experience, you can browse the full-screen views of the day, week, month, and year
- Apart from time blocks, You can view your tasks in a list view
- See calendar sets if you use multiple calendars, for example, for different types of events, multiple projects, or tasks, or if you want to have a separate calendar for personal and work activities
- You can also customize the tool with templates for event and tasks, and colors
- Attach files and photos; attachments are accessible across all devices that sync with your calendar accounts
- Its own engine for CalDAV and Microsoft Exchange allows you to directly add your calendar accounts
You can use Fantastical for time blocking not only at work but also for personal tasks.
Integrations: not available. You can only import your online calendar.
Available for: only for Apple devices
Pricing: the free version is available with limited features. The premium plan is $4.99 per month for an Individual account. The Family plan is $7.99 per family of 5 users per month. Fantastical offers a free 14-day trial.
Best for: to-do list to help you outline tasks for time blocks
Todoist is a simple to-do app and task manager for people who like to keep things simple. It’s not a time blocking app but you can use the tool to plan your time blocks.
Todoist has a user-friendly interface and lets easily navigate the tool. You can quickly add tasks and personalize them with due dates, labels and filters, make dates recurring, add sections and subtasks, prioritize important tasks, share and delegate them to team members, get notifications, and comment.
There are two steps you need to take:
- Create categories for each of your tasks (e.g., email, meetings, preparing meals, working on a project)
- Open your planner or calendar app, and create time blocks for tasks that reflect your category
Additionally, to make time blocking more effective, you can set daily and weekly goals in Todoist. You’ll be able to monitor productivity and your progress.
Integrations: Todoist integrates with many of the popular productivity, planning, and automation apps
Available for: web, desktop (macOS, Windows, Linux), mobile (Android, iOS), browser (Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox extensions), email plugins (Gmail, Outlook), wearables (Apple Watch, Wear OS)
Pricing: Free version is available with limited functionalities. Pricing starts at $4 billed monthly. You can try the Premium and Business plans free for 30 days.
Best for: automated time blocking connected with calendar
Plan is a straightforward time blocking calendar app. It’s a simple tool for everyone who wants to quickly organize every day in clear time blocks. You can use it solo or with a team.
In Plan, you create a task by typing into the input bar located at the top of the agenda view, calendar view, or list view. Your dashboard is divided into two views—list view and calendar view.
You simply put all your tasks on a given list and then create time blocks for each of them on the calendar with the drag-and-drop feature. Additionally, you can create a project to better organize tasks in a list.
Plan’s organizational structure looks as follows:
Workspace → Project →List → Calendar
Tasks’ features give you a lot of flexibility in blocking time and help create more accurate time blocks:
- Make tasks recurring, set priority, estimated completion time, assign team members
- Move tasks between lists with the drag-and-drop feature
- Sort them in a list by due date, priority, estimated complexity, or scheduled status
- Add subtasks
- Discuss, comment, ask questions for more transparency
- Sync the tasks scheduled in a Plan calendar to your Google Calendar
Plan seems to be a simple tool but its smallish time blocking and scheduling functionalities help to perfectly organize the work of all team members.
Integrations: Plan integrates with tools like Google Drive, Box, Github, JIRA, Gmail and more
Available for: web, mobile (iOS), Mac App is currently in beta testing
Pricing: free version is available. Pricing starts at $5/month
Best for: time blocking based on the Pomodoro technique
Focus booster is a simple yet powerful time management app. It lets you track time with the famous Pomodoro technique.
The tool is a perfect solution if you’re looking for a simple Pomodoro timer to work in blocks of 25-minute intervals, or if you want to try out the technique.
Focus booster has all the necessary features of a time management app—a to-do list, simple time tracking, mini and minimalistic timer, light and dark modes, reports with date, client, or label. You can see your progress in a neat dashboard that visualizes all data, and add entries manually to your timesheet.
The free version of the focus booster includes 20 Pomodoro sessions per month, simple time tracking, and productivity reporting.
Integrations: there are no integrations.
Available for: desktop (Windows, Mac), web
Pricing: Focus booster is available for free. Pricing starts at $2.99 per month. You can sign up for free 30-day trial.
Best for: granular team planning with time blocks
Planyway is a team calendar and timeline that helps to manage schedule, track projects, and plan your resources. You can use it solo for personal tasks.
Planyway’s time blocking feature allows you to visualize work to see the big picture and block time you need to complete every task.
There’s the Gantt chart for project roadmap, weekly, daily and yearly view, and portfolio timeline that gives you an overview of multiple project plans. Colors make it easy to track progress and spot priorities.
Planyway helps to increase awareness about what’s happening in the company and manage schedule on a micro-level.
Integrations: You can use Planyway with Trello, iCal, Google calendar, and any other calendar, and with Microsoft Teams
Available for: web, as a mobile app (Android, iOS)
Pricing: Free version is available with basic functions. Pricing starts at $3.50 per month per user.
Best for: time blocking with basic features
TimeBloc is a simple productivity app dedicated specifically to time blocking.
The app comprises four elements:
- Timelines: the drag-and-drop feature allows you to quickly arrange time blocks. You can block your day into multiple events by the hours, minutes, and type of tasks. Icons and colors make it easy to distinguish the blocks.
- Routines: for repetitive tasks
- Calendar integration: allows you to add events from your favorite calendar app
- Statistics: visualization of your progress
TimeBloc can help you create your ideal schedule for every day and week with just a few clicks.
Integrations: not available
Available for: mobile devices (Android, iOS)
Pricing: Free 7-day trial is available. TimeBloc Premium is $19.99.
Best for: planning time blocks directly in the calendar
Google Calendar is one of the most popular calendar apps. It’s a universal tool that gives you a lot of flexibility to time block your schedule. You can see the time blocked in a year, month, week, and day view.
Here’s the fundament of what Google Calendar offers:
- Scheduling events with one click with details such as guests, rooms, location, video conferencing, adding event description and attachments, choosing a color, and more
- Creating reminders
- Sharing and viewing calendars—creating a shared calendar with specific people; subscribing to other people’s calendars
- Customizing your calendar
- Accessing your notes from Google Keep and Tasks
Additionally, Google Calendar allows you to find an ideal time for meeting for all team members, assign tasks, share files and other materials, automatically add events from Gmail, and more.
Google Calendar is versatile, easy to use, and customizable.
Integrations: Google Calendar easily integrates with other Google apps, and lets you add events from other calendars you use
Available for: web, mobile devices (Android, iOS)
Pricing: free. You need to pay for additional space, however.
Best for: time blocking in Office 365 Calendar
Weekly combines your Office 365 calendar with a flexible task list. It’s a lightweight, minimalistic app for time blocking.
Weekly has three views: day, week, and task view. To every time block (task) you can add a description, due date, color, category, importance, and time necessary to finish it. You can quickly adjust and reschedule your projects, mark tasks as done, and comfortably plan every week.
Weekly is an easy to use schedule and task management tool with an intuitive user interface.
Integrations: Weekly integrates only with your Office 365 calendar
Best for: employee shift scheduling with time blocking
Sling is an employee scheduling app that allows you for blocking time for employees’ shifts with colors. As simple as that.
But except for time blocking, the tool offers additional features, so if you’re looking for a team management tool to plan every day, it’s the right choice.
Sling features include:
- Attendance management with time clock
- Reports for a day, week, month, or for customizable periods
- Labor costs management
- Messaging and newsfeed
- Simple task management
Integrations: Currently, Sling integrates only with Shopify, Square, Gusto, and Harbortouch
Available for: web and for mobile (Android, iOS)
Pricing: Free version is available for an unlimited number of users. Pricing for other plans starts at $2 per user per month.
Best traditional to-do list app with simple and structured project organization
TickTick is a simple productivity tool that combines features of a traditional to-do list, checklist, and task manager. You can use it to plan daily to-dos, meetings, important tasks, laundry, meals, shopping, and anything else you want to.
It’s a place to collect all your unplanned tasks, random thoughts, and ideas, and set aside time for priorities.
TickTick lets you see all your tasks in the time blocks in the calendar view—daily, weekly, or monthly. You can also subscribe to other calendar apps in TickTick to collaborate with other people.
Additionally, if you use the Pomodoro technique, you can track time in 25-minute intervals, and play white noise in the background while using the Pomo Timer.
Integrations: TickTick integrates directly with several apps like Slack, Gmail, or IFTTT, or via Zapier with your favorite apps
Available for: web, desktop (Windows, macOS), all Apple devices, as Chrome and Firefox extension, Outlook and Gmail add-on
Pricing: TickTick is a free app. The Annual plan is $27.99 (less than $2.4/month) and gives you more flexibility.
Best for: personal and team time blocking with a simplistic to-do list
Any.do is similar to TickTick. Hence, It’s a good alternative to TickTick, although it lacks the granular functionalities offered by the latter. So if you’re looking for a simplified version of a calendar and a to-do list combination, Any.do will do 🙂
The calendar in the app allows you to block specific time limits for your tasks. That allows you to tailor the schedule to your needs and preferences. Other than a to-do list and calendar, Any.do has a grocery list for shopping, reminders, and daily planner.
The tool is also available for teams.
Integrations: except voice search, Any.do integrates with other productivity apps via Zapier
Available for: all platforms—web, mobile (Android, iOS, ), desktop (macOS, Windows), Apple Watch, Wear OS, Huawei devices, voice search (Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant), web extension (Chrome, Firefox in development)
Pricing for 6 months is $4.49 per month
Quick Time Blocking Tips
To master the time blocking technique, you can use tricks. They’ll help you distinguish priorities, and whether this type of managing time is for you or maybe you should try something else.
Here are 7 time blocking tips for effective time management:
- First, write it all down in a list to see all your tasks and know what to focus on
- Start doing time blocking once a week to get started and increase steadily
- Don’t give up if you don’t manage to do all planned blocks, it’s okay not to finish all tasks on time!
- Add a buffer time block, free space to your calendar for unexpected tasks and events
- Review your process to focus on priorities and design a perfect schedule
- Use task batching—group similar activities together, for example, making phone calls and replying to e-mails
- Use time tracking to better define distractions and what is sucking away your time
Take your time blocking to the next level with TimeCamp!
Time blocking is a great form of planning the day for beginners and advanced time management enthusiasts.
It can help to set long term and short term goals, stay focused, and achieve anything you want. What do you think about time blocking? Do you have your favorite app? Let us know in the comments!