Timeboxing is a popular productivity technique that helps you manage your time by segregating it into timed intervals. It’s a key time management technique, that’s more important now than ever. Working from home could take a huge drag on team productivity, but timeboxing could help you avoid this problem altogether.
This guide will take you through the basics of timeboxing, including how it works and exactly what you stand to gain with it.
What is timeboxing?
Timeboxing simply refers to boxing your time into fixed intervals. This could mean limiting the amount of time you spend on emails, segregating a portion of your day to brainstorming or setting aside a fixed time period for team catchups. It’s a time management technique that breaks your day into manageable chunks, thus inadvertently helping your improve your productivity.
Is there a science behind the effectiveness of timeboxing? You bet there is! Timeboxing is driven by the temporal motivation theory. This theory states that as a deadline nears, our productivity increases exponentially. Time is thus a huge motivating factor. By stimulating these instances of urgency, timeboxing could drive you to your productivity peak.
Why it matters
The concept of segregating time for productive work is almost as old as time itself. The Pomodoro technique is another great time management technique that is based on this same concept. Here are just some of the many benefits you may enjoy with timeboxing.
- Better focus. Timeboxing forces you to complete one task at a time instead of multitasking. This means you’re completely dedicated to completing one task, thus leading to higher quality and more efficient work.
- Improved cognitive function. By pressuring you to think faster and solve more tasks in a fixed period of time, timeboxing keeps you on your toes and trains your brain to be sharper. This could gradually lead to stronger cognitive function and better critical thinking skills.
- Accomplish more. Most of us plan to do tons of things each day, but often can’t even complete half the tasks we had in mind. This is due to our easy distractions and lack of focus. Timeboxing, however, prompts us to plan for each activity and allocate time to it. Ultimately, there’s a higher likelihood that you could actually complete your desired tasks.
How does timeboxing work?
This technique is all about finding the sweet spot between generating urgency that boosts productivity, and generating urgency that leads to too much stress. Here are some easy steps you could follow to create your optimal timeboxing routine.
#1 Plan your time boxes
The first step to timeboxing involves planning your set time period for each activity. This step is best done when you cater it to your personal tastes. Some people find it motivating to timebox every activity of their day, from working out to completing tasks at work. Others find this stressful and may wish to confine their timeboxing to work-related tasks only.
Besides this, experiment with the time period you allocate for each task. This is a tricky thing to estimate, so set aside a week as a trial period where you learn to customise your time boxes. Remember to be reasonable with your planning. Over-allocating time could totally negate the benefits of timeboxing, while under-allocating time could lead to extra stress and burn-out.
#2 Find an effective timer
Did you know that the type of timer you use could define the effectiveness of your timeboxing? It all boils down to what kind of timer you pick. Using your phone alarm as a timer is often a stressful, noisy experience. You’ll have the constant desire to check your timer, and naturally, get side-tracked by notifications that pop up on your phone. Additionally, blaring alarms usually lead to higher stress levels and frustration.
What about using a classic analogue clock? Once again, stress becomes a huge factor. The constant ticking down of the seconds is a huge cause of stress to many.
The best timeboxing tool you could use is a mindful, unobtrusive time tracker like a Timeqube. Timeqube has just launched its Home Office Edition time trackers. These timers, in the shape of a cube, indicate the passing of time through a change in color. This way, you won’t have to deal with the stress of ticking or phone notifications.
Additionally, human peripheral vision can recognise color without directly looking at an object. This means that instead of constantly watching a clock or checking your phone, you’ll know how much time you have left with a quick glance.
Most importantly, the gentle changing of color is an unobtrusive and even soothing means to help users keep track of time. It’s a cute addition to your home office and provides a world of productivity benefits. A Timeqube could just take your timeboxing to the next level.
#3 Remember to take breaks
Timeboxing is a driver of productivity, but we’re only human. This means we can’t sustain our productivity without taking breaks. Remember to schedule ample time for you to take breaks and catch your breath before diving back into work. Besides, breaks themselves provide another whole set of benefits to our lives.