How is it already the end of the workday? Where did the time go? We all ask ourselves that! Let us tell you about timeboxing.
Timeboxing is a simple time management technique, often used in agile project management, that is based on allotting a time frame called “timebox” for an activity. Many of us approach our work one task at a time until we complete it, however long this takes. Timeboxing is different because it sets focus on time instead of tasks. What you do is allocate a certain number of minutes, hours, days, or even weeks long, depending on the task complexity, to complete the task, and once the time is up you assess whether you’ve reached your planned goals.
Difference between timeboxing and time blocking
Timeboxing is a popular tool used especially in agile project management. However, it should not be confused with time blocking.
Time blocking means you allocate time periods in order to find time for every task you need to finish and has a start and end time for an activity, a shorter time window. At the end of the “time block”, you assess whether you were able to finish the task and if you weren't, you just allocate more time to the same task next time.
On the other hand with timeboxing, you allocate time periods in order to put a strict limit to activities that would if not put in a time box take away too much of your time. Timeboxes, as opposed to time blocks, may involve larger time periods. A timebox always has specific deadlines and goals associated with it. At the end of the timebox, you declare your work done and then you determine whether you were able to meet your goals. This technique is often used when your project has strict deadlines and a budget you have to meet.
How to go about timeboxing tasks and projects?
Time often feels abstract, and you’ll have to make it more tangible – make it visual. Fill your calendar with time boxes and make it easier for you to visualize your time. If you are having trouble determining how much time you should allocate to each task or project try looking at your past work. It is extremely important to have realistic time boxes for this technique to work. If you use time tracking software it shouldn’t be hard to do so. For example, TeamBench allows you to export stored data of your work in a report. Go through those reports and see how much time on average did you spend on tasks that are similar to your upcoming tasks.
Between each time box do not forget to take breaks!
Benefits of timeboxing
No matter how you go about timeboxing your tasks it is going to be beneficial for you. Here are some of the benefits timeboxing your task will bring you.
Boost your motivation and productivity
Setting a dedicated time frame to work on tasks helps you focus on your work and it inspires you to avoid distractions and procrastination. Timeboxing gives you a way to measure your productivity levels and can also help you determine whether you have enough time available for other projects, so you don't overcommit yourself and risk burnout.
You will work on tasks you avoided doing
Sometimes, there are tasks that are not as urgent or as important or as other tasks are or are harder and more intimidating than others, and for that reason, you simply can’t make yourself do them. Allocating short time periods to these unpleasant tasks makes them less tiring and boring, and provides you with dedicated time to work on them. If you dedicate short timeboxes to these activities over a larger span of time, you will likely finish everything while barely realizing it. Once you complete each timebox, you will be making progress. It may be slow, but progress is certain.
You will stop wasting time trying to make things perfect
There is a phrase - done is better than perfect. Stick to the phrase as much as your work allows you to do so. Timeboxing makes it harder to waste time tweaking every unnecessary detail when you have limited time before you absolutely have to be done.
Create a balance in your life
In the end, timeboxing can help you with achieving the balance we all strive for. Whether it being balanced at work or balance between business-related and personal activities. And, as mentioned before, it can help you achieve a balance between important tasks and those you dreaded doing. By limiting the time you spend on some activities, you're making time for other activities – it’s as simple as that.