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10 Reasons You Need To Time-Box Yourself

10 Reasons You Need To Time-Box Yourself

Are you having trouble managing your time and getting things done during the day?

If yes, you might want consider time-boxing!

Time-boxing is a time management technique in which you work on a particular task for a certain duration of time. Once your allotted work time for that task is finished, it’s time to move onto something else.

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Here are 10 reasons to time-box:

1. You need to prioritize your tasks more effectively.

Having trouble prioritizing tasks? Time-boxing forces you to make a decision as to how you will spend your time. Since tasks are contained and cannot be done at the same time (no multitasking here!) you have to choose and decide what tasks must be completed today, versus say, tomorrow or even next week.

2. You want a reliable way to get things done over time.

A great way to finish any project is to work on it a little by little until it is finished. Instead of jumping whole hog into a big project (thereby increasing your chances of burnout and exhaustion), you can make things easier for yourself by pacing yourself as you work. Just imagine how much headway you’ll make in two months’ time if you time-box 30 minutes per day to de-clutter your garage!

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3. You have difficulties in solving a problem.

The best way to deal with a problem is often not to ignore it, but to tackle it head on. Setting up a specific time or period of time to deal with your problem or problems can help you face them and push you to find a solution. Who knows, your next breakthrough or solution to a problem might just be around a time-boxed corner…

4. You need to increase your focus.

Time-boxing is a fantastic way to increase your focus. Great things can happen when you give yourself permission to work without interruptions. You can settle into your work, clearly approach a problem, hone your skills, practice creative thinking and most importantly of all…get things done.

5. You need a boost of motivation.

There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing off an item that’s been sitting on your to-do list for the better part of the month – wouldn’t you agree? You can get that same feeling of satisfaction by time-boxing your tasks. Every time you finish a time-box segment, you’ve successfully completed a task. How’s that for a boost of motivation as you work towards your work and/or personal goals?

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6. You want to switch your mind from “thinking mode” to “execution mode.”

Stop wasting time thinking about doing something that needs to be done and just do it! Time-boxing forces you to hunker down and get to work. Of course, it should be noted you can time-box your planning or goal-setting sessions, but the concept remains the same: you have to sit down and actually do your work.

7. You need to know how much time you’ve spent working on something.

Ever wondered how much time it took you to write up code for your website, process your emails, or go shopping for your dad’s birthday present? When you time-box tasks, not only do you create a set of finite tasks to accomplish with a certain period of time, you also conveniently create a record of how you spent your time. This information can be super-helpful if you need to enter in detailed info for your time sheets at work or are looking to better manage your time in general in your life.

8. You never set a deadline for tasks or projects.

The very nature of time-boxing is deadline driven; you set a specific period of time to complete a task or project and go do it. If you have trouble setting deadlines for larger tasks or projects, consider starting out small by time-boxing your daily tasks. You’ll get more and more practice reaching deadlines on a regular basis and in time will eventually be able to translate this towards your larger tasks and projects.

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9. You want to know which tasks need more or less time to complete.

An important part of time management is knowing how long it will take you to complete something, be it filing six pieces of paper or restocking an entire office supply cabinet with paper and print cartridges. Time-boxing can help you gauge whether or not you are actually giving yourself enough time to complete a task. As a matter of fact, evaluating your time-boxing segments can be a real eye opener! Most likely you’d want to strongly reconsider the 15 minutes you gave yourself to edit a detailed, 75-page report, or the 50 minutes you gave yourself to type up a quick, five-sentence note for your supervisor.

10. You want to create equal results in all of your work.

When used correctly, time-boxing can help you compare like items with like. Let’s say you have to complete research for three different work reports this week. If you equally time-box your preliminary and secondary research for all three projects, you’ll have specific and equal units of measurement by which to measure your progress. You can better reevaluate your work and make sure all of your work gets done in a timely fashion.

Do you time-box your work at the office, at home, or school? Do you think you’ll give this time and project management approach a try? Can you think of any other useful reasons to time-box? Leave a comment below.

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Rashelle Isip

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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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