Timeboxing is a great time management tool to help you procrastinate less and produce more. Here are some top tips to help timeboxing work for you.
ALLOCATE FIXED PERIODS THAT WORK FOR YOU
With timeboxing, you allocate periods of time within your calendar. Before you even consider what work you will complete in these time periods you need to be realistic about the time that you can allocate. Allocate shorter and longer periods of time. Make sure that you leave a period of time afterwards to finish up if you need to.
If you have days when you are busier with customer enquiries or other work coming in, then take this into consideration. It helps to build this into a routine each week but with added flexibility, if needed.
There are a number of templates that can be found online to give you an idea of how timeboxing can be applied successfully. You can also use project management based apps/systems which will help you manage your list of tasks for completion and to timetable them. Another option is to use your online calendar so that you can click and drag timeboxes if you need to rearrange them. Ensure that you have a certain number of timeboxes marked out on the calendar as ‘busy’ so that the time is protected for you.
An example of a timeboxing template;-
TIMEBOXING CAN BE FOR PROFESSIONAL OR PERSONAL
You can allocate any type of activity to help you manage your time in a way that works for you. This means that you could even timebox personal tasks to split up the professional activities. This can also help to give you a mental break from tasks you have been working on. Switch up the day with the activities you enjoy doing between the ones you find harder to sit down and get started.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED?
Timeboxes can be any period of time you choose. A mixture of shorter and longer periods will help you to schedule the larger projects but also add in shorter periods of time where you can clear the small miscellaneous tasks from the ‘To Do’ list. Allocate the timeboxes to suit your schedule and the way that you work. If you have more energy and focus in the mornings, then consider putting your longer time boxes in the earlier part of the day.
You don’t need to allocate specific activities into the timeboxes; theme the timebox and then group activities into the themes. Larger themes can then be allocated a higher number of timeboxes across the week or timeboxes that are longer in length.
USE THE TIMEBOXES TO SUPPORT YOUR PRIORITIES
Every morning it is beneficial to determine your three priorities for the day. These should be two complete tasks and one task that is part of a larger project that will take a longer period of time to complete. Your list of priorities and your timeboxes for that day, are interdependent on each other. Look ahead at your schedule for the day when you are determining the priorities what length of timeboxes do you have and what can you get completed by the end of the day when using the time available to you.
TURN OFF ALL DISTRACTIONS DURING TIMEBOX PERIODS
Timeboxes are there to help you focus for a set period. To enable you to do this, remove as many distractions as possible. Turn your phone to silent or switch it off, check that the notifications on your laptop are switched off, internet browser closed etc.. Commit to focusing on that one task in that period of time, and you may be very surprised at how much you get done without interruptions.
WHEN THE CLOCK STARTS – YOU START
Timeboxing is a great way to avoid procrastination. When the clock starts, you start that activity. That is your time to work. Set a reminder so that you know what you should be doing and don’t allow for excuses to make you late starting. Get into the routine of sitting down and working on the activity for that set period without distractions.
When you are timetabling your timeboxes, you will want to consider allowing time to overrun or to complete a small activity to reward yourself. If you have particularly challenging activities, then make sure that the time that follows them is enjoyable and gives you some time out to give your brain a rest afterwards. If you find yourself avoiding the task ahead, then remind yourself of the reward once the mission is complete.