Have you ever had that 30-minute task that spins out of control and takes up a whole day’s work? Happens to most of us at some point! When you don’t set any constraints on your time, it’s easy for work to expand and fill up your entire day. Let’s say you allocate a week to complete a task. Even if you could finish that task in less time, you’ll find your work expanding so you actually take up the whole week to complete it.
You find yourself wasting valuable time and reducing your productivity. If you’re looking for a reliable solution to that, it’s time you tried timeboxing.
So, what is timeboxing?
Timeboxing is a time-management technique that involves setting a fixed unit of time (a timebox) to complete a particular task. The concept was introduced by James Martin, as a part of agile software development. Managers have been using it in project management for some time now, with great success. And now, with the shortcomings of traditional to-do lists becoming more apparent, more corporate workers are jumping on the timeboxing train to increase productivity.
How to timebox
With timeboxing, you allocate specific time periods to put a limit on activities that you feel would otherwise take too much of your time. The time management technique of timeboxing involves 5 steps:
- Find the right tasks. Sure, you can allocate any task you like to a timebox. But it makes more sense to focus on the tasks you don’t enjoy doing and ultimately try to avoid.
- Define your goals. It’s not enough to just know what tasks you’ll be timeboxing. You have to clearly define what goals you’ll achieve by completing the tasks.
- Set a timer. How much time do you need to complete your tasks? Too little time can leave you feeling rushed and stressed. Too much time becomes counterproductive to the goals you want to achieve. In such situations, a time tracker can help you monitor how much time you spend on a task, and how much you’ll need for a similar task in the future.
- Implement and assess your results. Once you’ve cleared steps 1-3, you have to complete your timeboxes then evaluate your progress. It’s the best way to know if you’re timeboxing right or wrong.
- Claim your reward. Rewarding yourself after completing your timeboxes is a great way to keep yourself motivated.
Increase your productivity with timeboxing
Marc Zao-Sanders, CEO and co-founder of filtered.com, found that his productivity has at least doubled since he switched over from traditional to-do lists to timeboxing. How then, can you use timeboxing to increase your productivity?
- Try timeboxing into a calendar. Set different dates for completing tasks while prioritizing the most important tasks. Let’s imagine you’ve got a week to finish a work project, have a Zoom call with your mom, and a date. You could set aside the first three days of the week for the work project, then follow up with the rest.
- Use your timeboxing to monitor your progress with different tasks over time. This comes in handy at work because it can help keep you focused and motivated to maintain the good trajectory.
- If you’re a perfectionist, timeboxing is the perfect time management technique for you. It can be easy to get stuck on a task because you want it to be flawless. With a less strict deadline, you could idle forever and jeopardize your productivity. With a timebox, you have to sign off on that project within a set amount of time, so there’s little room for idling.
- With soft deadlines, it becomes easy for distractions to creep in and reduce productivity. Timeboxing creates firm deadlines and a sense of urgency that will force you to focus on your tasks, no matter what distractions come your way.
- Practice timeboxing long enough, and you’ll learn to predict how much time you need for most of your tasks. It will help you plan ahead and save you loads of time.
Tools for timeboxing
You can make timeboxing much easier with the right tools. You can help your sales reps take their schedules back with timeboxing.
Help your employees set up specific tasks and track their time easily to understand how and where their bottlenecks are. Get your managers to use the extensive reporting to mentor the people in their teams.
Try our time tracking product for your people today and help make your teams more efficient and productive.
Main photo by Glenn Carstens Peters on Unsplash