timeboxing to improve productivity

What is timeboxing? Here’s how it can increase your productivity

Even billionaires like Elon Musk swear by the effectiveness of this method, which provides a novel outlook towards rethinking your work strategy.

At work, do you often struggle to juggle multiple tasks and be productive at the same time? If it’s your everyday concern, timeboxing could be the solution to your woes. The concept was first introduced in 1991 by James Martin, author of the book Rapid Application Development. The essence of this framework is to limit the time you spend on a given task, especially if you have a packed calendar. At the end of timeboxing, you declare your tasks ‘done,’ no matter what. Thereafter, you assess whether you were able to meet your goals either completely or partially.

Perhaps, the person best known for using this method is billionaire and entrepreneur Elon Musk. The co-founder and CEO of Tesla uses the technique to divide his day into five-minute blocks of time for everything, including his personal and professional work. This is one of the secrets to Musk’s astonishing success. Feeling motivated already? You, too, can dream of climbing the success ladder by incorporating timeboxing in your life, but you can’t master it overnight, as it requires proper planning. You need to think about how much time you want to allocate to your tasks so you won’t get caught up in the distractions that get thrown your way.

You can start by taking a look at your calendar or to-do list and assigning an appropriate amount of time to each task. Timeboxing is particularly useful when you don’t have the motivation to complete an assignment or you don’t want to spend a lot of time on it. For example, if you need to clean your room that has been used as storage for years, you know that it is going to be a tedious process, and will probably take a long time.

This is where you can implement timeboxing instead of grinding through the task. Give yourself a set timeframe to complete the task. Develop a mindset that you will be able to accomplish as much as you can within that period. This, in turn, will help you feel more motivated to finish your work diligently. Here is how timeboxing can boost your productivity and help you finish more in less time.

Helps you prioritise better

Timeboxing encourages you to focus on time instead of the tasks. To use this technique, you allocate a certain number of hours or days, also known as ‘timebox,’ to each task. You then use this time—and only this time—to finish your work. Since there is no multitasking involved in this technique, you will have to prioritise your tasks based on their importance and urgency. When the work is done this way, you get results quickly as it gives you a sense of urgency that transfers to future work as well.

Improves your focus

Doing banal tasks that take too long to finish can kill your motivation to hustle. This is the main reason why efforts don’t meet requirements that eventually lead to unsatisfactory results. But when you commit to working on a task for a set time, it becomes easier to get started. You allow yourself to work without interruptions. This enhances your ability to concentrate drastically. You feel motivated, approach a task with a clear head, apply your skills, and most importantly, get things done on time.

Helps plan your day better

Timeboxing lets you set strict limitations on how much time you allocate to each task so that you can plan your day effectively and manage your time better. For example, if you know that your assignment’s deadline is on Thursday, you know where to place the timebox in your calendar. This way, you can plan your schedule more efficiently and productively.

Gives control of your schedule

When you don’t assign time to your tasks, it’s easy for work to get dragged on during the day. This tendency is called Parkinson’s Law, which states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Timeboxing is a time-management strategy that can help you take charge of your schedule. Instead of losing hours on easy tasks, this effective technique can help you fight procrastination, reclaim lost productivity, and focus on work that matters. When you need to accomplish a task, simply set a time aside for it in your calendar and make sure that you don’t lose track of it.

Enhances clarity

When you use timeboxing to manage your schedule, you get a comprehensive view of your completed tasks. Even if you can’t remember them, you can simply open your calendar and track down your progress. It is particularly useful during performance reviews, as you will be cognisant of the highs and lows during a period. This time-management technique provides clarity by defining boundaries on both your outcome and timelines.

Boosts your motivation

Whether it is cleaning out a spare room, filing reports, or sending emails, nobody wants to spend their time doing activities that don’t inspire them. It can even lead to stress and procrastination. Timeboxing can provide that missing motivation boost to keep you going. When you set aside time for each task, no matter how mundane it is, you feel motivated to finish it. You feel a sense of accomplishment after crossing off an item sitting on your to-do list.

Shows you the bigger picture

With timeboxing, you can clearly see how every task falls into the calendar, and how much progress you have made during a specific period. You will know how much time you need to complete each assignment. This reduces much of the guesswork that usually goes into planning your tasks. You can visualise your deadlines efficaciously and tackle each assignment with confidence and clarity. And, in doing so, you also get a better understanding of how your tasks fit into the ‘big picture.’


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