Originally Published: 3/29/2009
Several months ago I came across the term time boxing. I looked into it and set the practice into motion. It has been a life saver!
If you ever feel like you don’t accomplish enough in a day or feel like you’re spinning your wheels, keep reading. Time boxing can help you be more productive and help you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
The way it works is you block out time on your calendar for specific tasks throughout the day. If you’re working on a large task, spread it out throughout the week. I put in time blocks for everything — including eating breakfast, feeding horses, and eating lunch. Every night I open my Outlook calendar and create my time blocks for the next day. Then I print off the calendar and check off the tasks as I go. What a feeling of accomplishment when you reach the end of the day and everything is checked off!! You can also use a paper calendar or your PDA. Use what works best for you — you’ll be more likely to continue using it.
For larger projects or a task that needs to be done a few days from now, go ahead and put them on the calendar. Are you supposed to call Joe back on Friday? Put it on the calendar. Have a project that you expect will take 10 hours? Work on it a couple hours every day — put it on the calendar.
Stick to your time. If you’re checking e-mails from 9:00 to 9:30 and at 9:30 you’re supposed to work on the Smith proposal, then at 9:30 start working on the proposal. If you’ve blocked off an hour to work on the Smith proposal, then stop at 10:30 and go to your next activity. It can be hard if you’re on a roll, but you’ll be glad you stuck to your time boxing!
As a Virtual Assistant, I have projects come in throughout the day. Unless it’s something that needs to be done ASAP, I will put it on the calendar for the next day or two, depending on the urgency and my schedule. Sometimes things do come in that have to be done ASAP and I don’t make it through all my scheduled tasks and have to do some rearranging. That’s okay. Those things will happen. Just move any incomplete tasks to the next day and try it again.
In the beginning, you may not block out enough time or you may block out too much time for certain tasks. As you use the system, you’ll figure out whether you need 15 minutes to check e-mails or 30 minutes, for example. While you need to stick to your time for the day, you can adjust it as you deem necessary. The more you use it, the better you will get at estimating the amount of time needed to complete tasks.
Give time boxing a shot and let me know how it goes!!