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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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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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