A colleague asked recently “can you be successful without a solid schedule that time blocks for specific tasks?”
Short answer – yes, you can be successful without time blocks. And, it will be harder and more stressful.
The most successful people I have studied and worked with all have a combination of time blocks and flexible time in their schedules. Many rely solely on to do lists. Others have a combination of task lists and scheduled items.
And the most productive have either scheduled in the tasks on the to do list, or delegated the tasks entirely.
I used to keep a notebook titled “neverending list of 5 minute projects”, and I would go to the notebook when I found myself with some unexpected down time (a meeting or call ended early, or I was waiting for someone to call or for a meeting to begin). This was used only for those open ended projects without deadlines. And it really helped keep me sane.
I think we all have those never ending lists. There is power in calling it what it is. All it took to manage mine was a small notebook and a pen. Everything that fit (no deadline) got written there, and there was quite a sense of accomplishment in crossing items off as they got done.