It’s more than a buzz word when it comes to productivity.
It’s a time management technique that, when done correctly, can help you be more in control of your schedule.
Put simply, once you have your to-do or task list, you allocate a specific amount of time in advance, and plot that in your calendar with clear starting and finishing times. You are meant to only work on that task (do not try to multitask!) within the set time slot.
Why is everyone timeboxing?
Based on Parkinson’s Law, timeboxing proactively mitigates the likelihood of a task expanding to fit the time allowed, as you’ve already set the start and end time.
Some other reasons include...
- Self imposed urgency: You’ve decided on the amount of time dedicated to the task. You’ve set the start and end time. This can help create urgency that may not have existed previously, which in turn could help you focus on the task.
- Better understanding of how long tasks take: With every task you timebox, you will gain a better understanding of the time needed to complete it. This will mean better time estimates for future tasks.
- Better clarity across your calendar and schedule: Timeboxing your tasks mean you’ve considered priorities, determined when you’re working on them and for how long. This will create a clearer understanding of your schedule.
- More efficient meetings: If you often find meetings run over time, it may be a good idea to timebox the agenda ideas. Use a timer, once that allocated time is up, move to the next topic. It's important to first set this precedence at the beginning of the meeting to ensure everyone is on at the same page.
- Minimise tendency to procrastinate: By specifically blocking time for a task, you may be able to laser focus on that task, overcoming the tendency to procrastinate. Once you use timeboxing consistently in your workflow, you should see a reduction in procrastination overall.
- Avoid analysis paralysis: If you're someone who struggles to make decisions until you're convinced they're error free, timeboxing can help to keep perfectionist tendencies at bay.
- Shows progress: As you're completing and validating prioritised pieces of work by a deadline you've set, you will be able to see progress.
Is the Pomodoro Technique same as timeboxing? 🍅
They closely resemble each other, but the Pomodoro Technique emphasizes the amount of the timebox itself, to 25 minutes. The technique involves scheduling tasks for 25 minutes (called a pomodoro), followed by a quick break. Once you complete four pomodoros, you take a longer break of 20-30 minutes.
Is timeboxing for you? 🤔
It depends on how you work and what works best for you.
One of my main criticisms of timeboxing is that, sometimes, it feels a tad inflexible. And that’s from someone who does it daily. There are days where it’s hard to find that time to dedicate to one task.
Timeboxing is also not great for big chunks of work. You need to break your project into smaller, manageable chunks first. When we're faced with a large project, it can seem overwhelming. Imagine you're at the start of a marathon, rather than focusing on the daunting task of finishing it, focus on taking one step at a time.
With timeboxing, the quality of your work may be sacrificed as the focus has shifted to achieving deadlines.
Another criticism, or something to consider, is that it can be hard to get started. When you’re use to working in a certain way, it will take some time to make that shift. Changing habits can be really tough. Go slowly, try to timebox one task first, then two, then expand from there.
No miracle solution
Don’t forget that timeboxing is not a miracle solution and will not automatically make you more productive, as much as we would like it to be!
Like all other tools, methods and techniques out there to improve productivity, you must consider if it works for you. A tool that may help is Llama Life; designed for calm, focused productivity. Give it a go and see what happens. It may be that a combination of timeboxing with other tools works best for you.
Let us know how you go!