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Time Boxing Productivity Secrets
No matter your profession, there are likely projects you are avoiding because they are complex. The procrastination that comes with that wreaks havoc on your self-esteem, and you begin to question what you really should be doing in life.
This is unnecessary because Time Boxing can help tame that procrastination monster.
On the other hand, you may love all your tasks and get so immersed that you lose focus on your real priorities. Once again, Time Boxing can come to the rescue.
No matter what the reason may be when you turn to Time Boxing, the idea is the same. You start by developing a realistic idea of how long a task or project takes you. Once that is done, it is simply a matter of entering that data in your calendar and then getting it done in the time you gave yourself.
When we say it is simply a matter, it doesn't mean that Time Boxing is super easy. It means there is a formula to follow, and success will come if you stay on course. Think of it as making your favorite dinner by following a recipe provided by a top chef. You know all the ingredients, how to prepare them and how long to cook them. It is only when you deviate from the recipe that you run into trouble.
With so many demands on your time, it is important to learn and use tools such as Time Boxing to be highly productive and successful. Time Boxing can be used in business and even home life. It is beneficial for parents who have children actively engaged in school, sports, and hobbies.
In the following chapters, you will notice that I start talking about Time Blocking, then I shift to using the term Time Boxing. That's by design.
Time Blocking and Time Boxing both involve allocating fixed time periods to activities - but, while Time Blocking includes strictly reserving time for an activity, Time Boxing includes limiting the time you spend on it.
So basically Time Boxing is taking Time Blocking to the next level, with specific deadlines and goals associated with it, and it may also involve deliverables, a budget, and milestones.
All this makes Time Boxing a much more effective productivity method that will help you reach your goals and get things done.
Let’s dive in and give a more thorough definition to Time Blocking and Time Boxing and see why they are both important.
Time Blocking and Time Boxing
Time Blocking and Time Boxing are very similar in allocating a specific amount of time to do a task. The idea is to stop working when the timer goes off. The major difference between the two is not time but what you are doing with that time. It is also important to note that you will be time Blocking with Time Boxing, but you do not need to engage in time Blocking if you only want to time box.
This is because you are using only one predetermined amount of time to time box a serious issue. In this case, there is no need to fill out your Google calendar, as you would if you were time Blocking your entire day.
Think of time Blocking as picking a specific time to start and end with an important task you need to do. The time block could be ten minutes, or it could be two hours.
Many people have moved from the traditional "to-do" list with time demands and started Time Blocking.
To-do lists can still be part of Time Blocking, but the method is slightly different. Remember that a to-do "reminds” you what you have to do, but it doesn't tell you how long you work on each item. Since this is the truth, many people will write a long to-do and then accomplish very little.
This leads to extreme frustration, and in many cases, people will look to blame others for their lack of “getting it done."
Time Blocking forces you to decide precisely how much time you spend on one task, and this accountability to yourself helps kill that procrastination monster.
You will learn to be the "protector of your time."
Time Blocking will also make you much stronger in your ability to focus on one task and do your best work.
We discussed Benjamin Franklin and his method to schedule his "hard work."
In today's world, hard work is coined as "deep work." When you have something that requires all your focus and attention, you are committed to deep work that you penciled into your Time Blocking schedule.
Cal Newport is an associate professor of computer science and the author of 7 non-fiction books. His book entitled "Deep Work" explains how he gets a solid 40 hours done by Time Blocking, whereas the same amount of work would have taken him upwards of 60 hours without that structure.
Typical Time Blocking is done by setting up 30 or 60 minutes blocks of time to focus on one task only. In the later chapters, we will see a case where certain blocks of time are much bigger and discuss why this is needed.
Some famous entrepreneurs use micro Time Blocking to accomplish their daily goals. Elon Musk uses micro Time Blocking to help drive his companies to high profits.
For example, Elon uses blocks of five minutes for every part of his day, from the moment he wakes up until he sleeps.
The five-minute time blocks are prepared before the day starts, which means he can get into action immediately.
Time Blocking will be different for everyone. It is best to experiment with varying blocks of time and evaluate which ones produce the most productivity.
Time Blocking can be done, but like everything else, there will be issues that crop up. You must be prepared to combat the problems like constant interruptions or avoid getting frustrated when a supervisor says, "drop what you are doing; this is more important."
That’s when TIme Boxing will come to the rescue.
Time Boxing is used when you have an issue with how much time you spend on a task. Some people find that when they begin a task, they always look at the clock and say, "OMG, look at how long I have been working on this." It can happen if you are very passionate about the task.
You enjoy it so much that time just drifts away. In another case, you may be a perfectionist and have trouble stepping away. You end up trying to make that task or project so perfect that you ignore other tasks that are also very important.
Another difference is how Time Boxing makes you much more efficient. When you time box, you know that you have a stringent time limit, and there are no excuses to keep you from focusing 100% on that specific task.