First the definition and then we will learn why is Timeboxing so important.
Timeboxing is a basic time management strategy that involves allocating a set, maximum unit of time for an operation ahead of time and then completing it within that time frame.
James Martin, author of the book Rapid Application Growth, was the first to implement the term as part of agile software development.
In a nutshell, timeboxing is a time management strategy in which you assign a set amount of time to a scheduled task. You focus on the activity for the specified amount of time and then decide whether you have met your objectives.
This method can be used to perform project management activities as well as personal errands.
Don’t Confuse Time Blocking and Timeboxing
Both time blocking and timeboxing entail allocating set time periods to activities; however, time blocking entails simply reserving time for an operation, while timeboxing entails restricting the amount of time you spend on it.
Through time blocking, you set aside time periods to complete all of the tasks on your to-do list that you fear you won’t be able to complete otherwise.
Time frames are called “time blocks” in time blocking, and they normally dictate a start and end time for an operation, as well as a smaller time frame you can label on your calendar. Each time block is designed to motivate you to stick to your schedule and complete your work on time.
At the conclusion of the time block, you evaluate if you were able to complete the task within the allotted time; if not, you simply assign more time to the same task the next time.
Timeboxing is a technique for allocating time periods to things that you feel would take up too much of your time otherwise.
In timeboxing, time intervals are referred to as “timeboxes,” and they can range from 15 minutes to several months. A timebox is often associated with precise deadlines and priorities, as well as deliverables, a budget, and milestones.You declare your work done, no matter what, at the end of the timeframe, and then decide whether you were able to achieve your targets in full or in part.
You may, for example, want to clean up your office but don’t want to spend an entire afternoon doing so. So you set aside half an hour for this job and finish it as soon as your 30-minute time limit expires, regardless of how much you’ve already cleaned up.
Asking How to Start Timeboxing?
The five steps of the timeboxing time management strategy are as follows:
- Look for tasks that are suitable.
- Define the objectives.
- Create a timer.
- Work and evaluate the outcomes
- Claim your reward.
Look for Tasks That Are Suitable
In general, you can choose any task and assign it to a timebox; however, it’s better if you set timeboxes for:
Tasks that you are unable to complete due to a lack of motivation
These are typically daunting activities that you know would take a significant amount of time and effort to complete, such as writing a novel or completing a 10,000-word research paper. You know you won’t be able to complete these tasks easily, so you procrastinate endlessly.
You can make the challenge less stressful by breaking it down into smaller, more achievable chunks with their own deadlines and goals. All you have to do now is motivate yourself to meet the next deadline or goal, which is far more manageable.
Tasks on which you don’t want to spend a lot of time
Cleaning up your room or going through your emails are examples of important but unpleasant activities on which you don’t want to spend too much time. You’ll either waste time putting off these activities or spend much too much time on them.
Setting a strict deadline for such work effectively limits the amount of time you can spend on it from the start.
Define The Objectives
Consider what you want to do with your projects and when you want to complete them.
For example, if you’re working on a 10,000-word research paper and have 30 days to complete it, your long-term objective is clear: you want to finish it in 30 days with a well-researched paper and a good score.
However, in order to achieve this overall target, you’ll need to set a daily goal of writing a certain amount of words each day. This daily achievement will be the daily milestone you’ll need to meet each day.
You’ll need to write about 400 words a day to meet this deadline, which means you’ll finish in 25 days (400×25=10,000), with 5 days left over for revisions and editing, as well as any unforeseen errands that will cause you to miss time.
When it comes to things that you don’t want to do, you can make working on them within a timeframe a mission in itself – for example, make cleaning your room your primary goal for 15 minutes. You can also make this a recurring timebox: tidy up your room for 15 minutes every day for a week, and you’ll probably find that you’ve made significant progress without even breaking a sweat.
Create a Timer
After you’ve decided on the role you’ll take on and the goals you want to achieve by doing so, you’ll need to set aside time for it – this stage is almost similar to the second step in the time blocking time management technique.
Then you decide when you’ll begin working on the job and when you’ll finish it; if the time period allows, you can also mark this time in your calendar to ensure you stay on track with your errands.
As discussed in the first step, you’ll most likely timebox your most difficult tasks or tasks for which you lack motivation; as a result, you’ll need an ideal, short timeframe to help you handle these tasks.
Take the 10,000-word research paper as an example: you’ve already determined that you’ll need to write (and edit) 400 words a day, but you’ll still want to restrict the amount of time you spend working on it per day. And that’s when traditional timeboxing kicks in.
You should set a time limit of 3 hours per day for writing and editing the research paper in your daily agenda, and make sure you stick to it.
Work and evaluate the outcomes
The Final move could be the simplest: you begin working on your first scheduled assignment, and then work your way down your list of scheduled timeboxes.
Keep track of how much time you spend on each task to ensure you remain on schedule:
Stop working as soon as your time limit has expired, and then evaluate your performance. Have you completed your timeboxes for today, which included writing 400 words for your paper? Did you really spend the entire 15 minutes cleaning up your attic if your target was to spend 15 minutes cleaning up your attic? Or did you give up in the middle to go get a cup of coffee and never come back?
Effective timeboxing occurs when you work on your task for the specified amount of time; all you have to do after and timebox is evaluate your performance. If you achieved your objectives and achievements, finished on schedule, stayed under budget (for projects), and delivered what you promised, it’s time to give yourself a reward.
Claim Your Reward
You can actually do without this step – but, by keeping it, you’ll make sure you have something to look forward to after you’ve reached set milestones and completed important timeboxes.
For example, after every 3 hours per day you’ve spent successfully writing and editing 400 words for your 10,000 research paper in total, you can reward yourself by going to a prolonged coffee break with friends or watching an episode of your favorite TV show on Netflix.
Rewards will keep you motivated to complete timeboxes in the long run. After all, knowing that you have a reward waiting for you if you keep your focus on the task at hand during the prescribed timebox will inspire you to keep to the rules.
On the other hand, if you falter and procrastinate, you’ll likely feel guilty enough to skip the reward and try to be better next time.