How time blocking can help you focus, boost your productivity and achieve more with a free time blocking template and the ultimate FREE time blocking planner. This planner will make you more productive than you have ever been!
What is Timeboxing
Timeboxing is a method of time management where you allocate a fixed and maximum unit of time to an activity. The goal is to sit and complete either the entire project or a set portion of it in the time you have. Rather than limiting the time you work on a project, the idea is to limit the time you spend on a task but to give yourself the time you need to finish. Always allow the maximum reasonable time for each project until you get used to how long things actually take. This method is best for people who need to avoid outside distractions and do one thing completely.
Time boxing can help you get the tasks that you dread doing out of the way. It helps you fight your procrastination and increase productivity. Instead of just writing down a task you allot a chunk of time or a time box in which to complete it. Once you get used to using the system then try to keep that time box as short as possible but still realistic and doable. You’ll be amazed how quickly you can find your focus when you only have 30 minutes to get something done. Break down larger tasks, like preparing a report, into smaller components, like researching a topic, planning the paper, writing, and allot a short time box to each.
How Can Timeboxing Make You More Productive
Timeboxing can help you in a number of different ways. For example, it helps you to stay better organized. Losing track of parts of a project or simply forgetting when you had an appointment will slow you down, but with time boxing, there’s no worry of missing a step. Below is a chart of more ways timeboxing can make you more productive.
- Visual Data Sets – If you’ve ever heard someone say, ‘I’m a visual learner,’ then you have probably thought about visual data. The good news is that everyone is a visual learner to some extent, and seeing information presented in this manner can aid you too. Even if you think of yourself as a hands-on learner or some other style, having a chart that shows your schedule as time boxes will ensure you remember it more easily.
- Avoiding Unnecessary Memorization – Many people struggle to memorize complex, multi-faceted information like schedules. However, with time boxing, there is no need to put that pressure on yourself. Simply write things down as they come up and set aside an appropriate amount of time to get them done.
- Time Management – Giving yourself the time you need is a skill, but anyone can learn it. As you time box, you will inevitably make mistakes, but instead of that being the end of it, you’ll be able to learn from them and adjust your future scheduling to suit your real needs.
- Making Deadlines – Whether it’s sliding into the drive-in before your favorite fast food place closes at night or a presentation that could change the course of your career, being on time matters. By time boxing, you can ensure that you leave in time to be where you need to be and have enough time afterward to complete your assignment or goal.
- Prioritizing – Time boxing forces you to think about what you’re doing and how long it takes, but it also gives you perspective on how many hours you have in a day or week. When you chart it all out and look at where you spend your energy, you can more readily adapt your schedule to cover everything that matters by cutting out things that simply aren’t priorities.
- Efficiency – Time boxing will show you where your time is wasted, which can greatly impact your productivity. For example, let us say you always go around the corner to the busiest coffee shop in town for a morning coffee. You get there, park, wait in line and spend fifteen or twenty minutes getting coffee. Knowing this, you can look at how fast people are making it through the drive-through or stop somewhere less crowded and cut that time down by five to ten minutes.
- Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed – A well-organized time boxing chart condenses a large amount of information into a much more palatable format. Instead of having lists of dozens of things to keep track of, you’ll have one easy-to-use format that lets you access all that data without feeling so overwhelmed.
- More Downtime – By boxing your time and increasing your productivity and efficiency, you can make more time for things you enjoy. Relaxation and happiness are often underestimated. People who have enough downtime tend to be more prepared for the challenges in their lives and, subsequently, more able to handle them. If you’re not including your happiness in how you look at time management, then you have missed something important. The classic quote about all work and no play making you dull is literally true. To stay efficient, you need that time as much as you need to make your appointments, or you’ll soon burn out and discover that boxing your time only works if you don’t spend all of it too stressed to be productive.
How to Timebox
Timeboxing is relatively straightforward. First, you create a chart with boxes for your time. Then fill it with the activities you need to accomplish and take time to estimate how long you will need for it or how long you can spend. When you start an activity, you will also set a timer that helps you limit the time spent. When your timer goes off, done or not, you need to move on to the next activity on your list. Simply repeat this process as many times as necessary to ensure that you have put the time in on everything you needed to do that day without getting distracted, hyperfocused, or otherwise spending too much time on one activity to the detriment of another.
Using time boxes is excellent, but there’s more to it than merely slapping items on a chart willy-nilly. A good organizational system like this is worth doing and the extra effort to do it well. Here are a few simple tricks to help you with your timeboxing technique.
- Time yourself when you do activities. Even something as simple as finding the right parking place at the store takes time. Becoming more aware of how you spend yours and realistically assessing how much time each thing takes starts with knowing how much time you spent on it.
- Don’t be afraid to erase unnecessary steps or events.
- Look at when you do each activity and ask yourself if you can move that event around on your chart for higher efficiency. For example, if you always shop on Saturday and Sunday, but you have plenty of time after work on weekdays, you can look into shopping on weekday evenings to avoid some of the crowd and save more time for things you want to do.
- Don’t just time box blindly. Set aside some time on your chart to assess how the time boxing is helping and where you can improve this schedule to benefit your productivity and happiness.
- Remember that you can use the timeboxing system as an individual, but it’s also outstanding for teams and even families. Don’t limit your time boxing unnecessarily.
- Add things as they occur. Think of this like ‘penciling someone in’ on an old-fashioned appointment chart. As soon as something you need to do comes up, add it to your chart, or at least make a note so you can add it later.
Time Boxing Example
In the example below, someone who works at an office and has meetings, emails, and assignments has blocked out their week by allotting specific amounts of time to each item on their itinerary. They have planned out the week based on what they believe they can accomplish, plus a little leeway for each activity. You’ll see plenty of open space to add more personal items, and they have limited how long they will work on each part of their job but also only scheduled activities they can complete in the given time. This is simplified, and you can break time down any way you like, such as in 15-minute increments.
|6 am||Wake up & get ready||Wake up & get ready||Wake up & get ready||Wake up & get ready||Wake up & get ready||Sleep||Sleep|
|7 am||breakfast||breakfast||breakfast||breakfast||breakfast||Wake up & get ready||Wake up & get ready|
|8 am||Drive to work||Drive to work||Drive to work||Drive to work||Drive to work||breakfast||breakfast|
|9 am||Clock in, Check Inbox, Answer Emails||Clock in, Check Inbox, Answer Emails||Clock in, Check Inbox, Answer Emails||Clock in, Check Inbox, Answer Emails||Clock in, Check Inbox, Answer Emails|
|10 am||Work On Smith Project >||Team Meeting 30 mins||Complete yesterday’s project (15-20 mins)||Johnson Project||Finish Johnson Project and Start Wong Project>|
|11 am||Hand out Assignments to the team||Start Johnson Project >||Start paperwork for Wong project >|
|1 pm||Work on my portion of today’s job >||Johnson Project >||Lunch||Lunch|
|3 pm||Late lunch|
|4 pm||Send Finished Project and check work emails again||End of Week Meeting|
|5 pm||Clock out and drive home||Clock out and drive home||Clock out and drive home||Clock out and drive home||Clock out and drive home|
Timeboxing Vs. Time Blocking
Timeboxing and time blocking look very similar at first. Both use charts as visual aids to set out your schedule to increase your overall productivity if you stick to the plan. So is there a difference between timeboxing and time blocking? The answer is yes, but it’s mostly in how you approach your events and activities.
Time Blocking is a method where you create a chart of things you must work on. Then you set aside a finite amount of time to do so. This method is all about limiting how much time you allot for an activity. If you are easily distracted or tend to get so focused that you forget or refuse to change tasks in a timely manner, this is the best way to stop doing that. You will be putting a ‘box’ around your time, and when you reach the end of that box, you simply stop doing the thing you were working on.
On the other hand, timeboxing is all about better time organization and deciding when to tackle each activity completely. You put a box around the time you need to finish a task and only work on that one activity until it’s done. Rather than putting your energy into stopping in time, you’ll be working on setting the correct amount of time for the activity and the best spot in your schedule to accomplish each goal. If you find that you burn out at the same time each day, or you don’t feel as awake in the morning or evening, this is a fantastic technique that can help you do the high-energy activities when you actually feel up to it.
Whether you choose to timebox or time block, making a chart or visual aid to help yourself stay organized and productive will improve your overall well-being and ability to meet your goals. Remember that timeboxing is setting finite time goals to complete an activity, while time blocking is setting time goals for how long to work on any part of an activity. Choose the best method for you. It’s no secret that productive people are organized, and you can be one of those people. You will be able to see and schedule everything so that you aren’t missing out on anything vital. Plus, as a nice bonus, organizing your time in either of these ways will also help you prioritize and cut out unnecessary distractions, so you get more out of your time and have more time for the things you love without sacrificing anything.