Timeboxing is time management method and a productivity strategy.
We’ve all been there – we have a project or a deadline to meet, and time is running out. Most people have difficulty staying focused on open ended tasks, or they seem overwhelmed if they have a lot of tasks to complete in a day. Timeboxing can help in many of these situations.
If you’ve never heard of it before, don’t worry – you’re not alone. However, timeboxing is quickly becoming more popular with people who need to arrange their time better, as it can be used in a variety of ways. So what exactly is timeboxing?
If you work for someone else, your manager may Timebox for you. In the simplest terms, when your boss says, “Jones, you have 4 hours to finish that report, do the best you can!” He has just, timeboxed for you.
You may already Timebox in your personal life. For example, you may need to buy a gifts for some friends. However, you work during the day, weekends you want to relax, and evening shopping isn’t really for you. But you still need to get that shopping trip completed. So you look at how your time is spent at weekends, and factor in how much time you can allocate realistically to your shopping trip. Then decide what gifts you need to buy beforehand, and what shops you’ll need to go to. You head out to the store at 8pm, knowing that they close at 9pm. Essentially, you’ve boxed your time – you’re going to complete the task by 9pm no matter what it takes – even it it requires compromise.
Timeboxing works by completing any work that you have to the best of your abilities in the agreed timescale – anything you can’t do within that timescale is left incomplete. While this may mean that you have an unfinished task, it’s only unfinished from your original plan – this is because by “timeboxing,” that is, by fitting the task into a specific timeframe, you’ve come up with an alternative version that does what is needed (within the time constraint you set).