Have you ever watched an entire two-hour movie, even though you didn’t like it from the beginning? It’s an interesting phenomenon of human behavior that, once we start something, we tend to want to finish it. Even things we find unpleasant will be completed if we start them.
The same goes for the work of fulfilling your work, school and life responsibilities. If you start, you will most likely finish. Time boxing is a life hack to help you with both starting and finishing your work.
At its heart, time boxing (or time blocking) is very simple. First, assign a fixed time for a task, schedule it, and then start and finish the task within the time you scheduled. When working on a time box task, you focus only on that work—no social media, no calls, no multi-tasking. When you set strict limits to keep track of all your responsibilities, you meet them and save your sanity.
SOME BENEFITS OF TIME BOXING
It demands you to single-task and focus on one activity, thereby achieving it in one stretch of time. When you’re done, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment and feel less stressed.
You prioritize your work based on when it needs completion. Large, multi-step tasks can be broken into smaller pieces, each with their own box. Each completed step (box) will lead into the next, allowing you to successfully complete a project on time.
If you procrastinate, time boxing will benefit you tremendously. A time box has 1. a defined task and 2. a time limit, and it requires you to focus on that task. You are forced to start the task, which is often the toughest hurdle for those who procrastinate. Once you’ve started, continuing and finishing something get easier.
You do not get bogged down by every detail. Time boxing will be a life saver if you tend to spend too much time over tasks and put too much of your hard work into low-value details. When you assign a time limit to a task, it forces you stay with the work if you want to finish it during the box. As you hone your time boxing skills, you stay on task and complete more of them within the time limits you set.
Your concentration is required to complete a time box. If you multi-task or follow every interruption that pops up, and don’t finish tasks because of that, time boxing will get you on track. You must narrow your focus—turn off all potential interrupters and work on just the time box assignment.
Your productivity will go up. You’ll figure out when your peak productive times are and can schedule your high-priority tasks during them. You can assign easier and less important tasks during times you’re more likely to be interrupted or are past your peak mental energy.
At the beginning of this article we shared the basics of time boxing. Next week we’ll share some tips about how to time box how to get the most from this easy, but effective life tool.