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How Does Timeboxing Technique Work and How to Use It?

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January 27, 2023
How Does Timeboxing Technique Work and How to Use It?

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We all often get the feeling that the deadlines and the tasks become too overwhelming. We think that there is a massive weight of responsibility on our shoulders because we cannot remain focused while also struggling with time.

Timeboxing as a famous time management technique offers a solution for these problems and we are here to introduce it to you through this guide!

What is timeboxing as a time management tool?

The logic of timeboxing method is based on the ideas of "The Parkinson Law". According to Parkinson's law, a task takes as long as it does to finish it. This mindset is supported by timeboxing, which is a technique for scheduling a specific time on the calendar to complete a task.

Think about your project deadline or the times you need to prepare a presentation for your meeting to better grasp this technique. Important dates like this have deadlines that are established weeks or even months in advance. Nevertheless, we often procrastinate and push all the work to the last day. Therefore, when we have to complete a task in a short amount of time, our stress levels rise at the same rate. The timeboxing method emerges to benefit you in your time of need.

With the help of the time management approach known as "timeboxing," you and your team can establish a specific task's completion time and then stick to it. The task need not be totally finished, but you must set a target and then assess whether it was attained.

The timeboxing method does not need to be utilized in the software development industry. You can use it to plan your own time in addition to using it for businesses and people in other professions.

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How does the Timeboxing technique work?

To execute the timeboxing technique, firstly you should determine a precise end date for a project and work within that time frame.

You can also drop the task and go on to the next one if you are unable to complete it. Set another reasonable deadline you can meet and return to it later that day or later.

In this method, time spans are called "timeboxes".

Their length can be ranged from 15 minutes to many months. Each time box has specific goals and dates applied to it. They can also include budgets, tasks, and achievements.

You consider your task completed at the end of the timebox, regardless of what, and then examine if you entirely or partially achieved your objectives.

To illustrate, let's say you have two tasks to do that day, so you determine how much time you need to finish each task and you set time frames. If the first is not finished within the time given, you don't keep working on it but instead, move on to the next task whether you finished the first one or not. You can schedule the first task for another time and return to it.

What are the benefits of timeboxing?

Timeboxing provides you control over your schedule.

It aids in completing things that you don't particularly enjoy or have put off for another reason. It also aids in task prioritization and organization and helps you be more productive.

Helps managing procrastination

It enables you to begin the work you have been meaning to start for a while but have been unable to take that crucial step. You can assess yourself and your task completion time once you've used this method for a while.

As a result, you can analyze how long it takes you to finish a task and identify the time of day when you are most productive.

Learning discipline

Along with its other benefits, timeboxing method can help you practice self-discipline on a daily basis. Not only it boosts your productivity but also teaches you to pay less attention to unnecessary matters that keep you away from doing your tasks and not to do them if you don't want to.

Not wasting more than enough time on a project

There are some days when we are not at our best, are not as creative as usual, or are simply having a bad day. For instance, in those days, we frequently take twice as long to do tasks that would otherwise just take us 15 minutes. This is ineffective, and the results of such efforts rarely please us. Time boxing technique then saves the day.

You don't have to worry if you didn't finish your project within the time you set. You can continue doing it the following day. You'll likely be in better form by then, and the issue you were having today will be a piece of cake by then.

Having control over change of plans

The timeboxing approach gives you more control over bigger tasks. You are surely familiar with the feeling that comes when you are working on a major job and you begin to concentrate on details, perhaps even excessively. When you immerse yourself so thoroughly in a project, you lose sight of the bigger picture and are unable to see your assignment as a whole. If you are carrying out an action that you planned yourself, there is no problem with this; you have the freedom to adjust and break from the initial plan.

Keeps teams on track

Because timeboxing keeps teams concentrated on completing the task at hand by defining done clearly, it is a popular component of many project management approaches. Additionally, timeboxing motivates teams to go to work right away.

Escaping from perfectionism

The sooner you accept that nothing will ever be perfect, the better. You can delay working on something until it's perfect by using timeboxing. Instead, it enables teams and individuals to produce effective solutions that can be expanded in successive stages.

Perfectionism that isn't necessary can result in missed deadlines, tension, and unhappy workers.

Helps with the prediction for future projects

Finding out how long it took your team to finish a project that is comparable to this one in the past can make it easier to estimate how long the next one will take by checking old timeboxes.

Additionally, it need not only apply to complete projects; it may also be relevant to individual tasks. It's inevitable that when you first start timeboxing, you'll give your team more or less time than is actually required for completion. You'll discover the ideal time frame to work within as time passes.

Enhanced Engagement of Employees

‍Employee involvement declines when workers believe their contribution to the project's success is not necessary. Timeboxing enables people to establish distinct priorities, which makes it simpler to understand what is most crucial. This eventually results in more projects being finished on schedule.

Employee engagement then rises dramatically as a result of feeling inspired, motivated, and driven to accomplish more and develop their abilities.

‍How to use timeboxing?

Luckily, timeboxing method is not hard to learn and really easy to do. All you have to do is to be dedicated to your schedule and it doesn't even have to be a tight one! It is all up to you to manage your time spent on work and this method can help you to balance your work and private life especially if you work remotely or hybrid. If you can manage to execute this technique, you can gain a lot of benefits from it. To help you to do that, we will explain it to you step by step. Let's dive in!

1. Determine your tasks.

The first thing you should do is to make a list of your tasks so you can decide which tasks need to be prioritized and see which ones you've been delaying. With the list, you can also prevent yourself from forgetting the tasks and feel more organized.

2. Building Goals

Consider what you want to accomplish by timeboxing the tasks after you've chosen them. It can be to boost initial motivation or finish the activity more quickly than usual.

Make sure the aim is crystal clear whatever it may be because you'll revisit it at the end of the day or timebox to assess it.

3. Prioritize your tasks

As soon as you've determined what your tasks are, you should measure all the available information. You should decide how long it takes to accomplish each task and its importance. When completing this phase, you must remember to focus on crucial details like the deadline. You can complete your urgent work without procrastination until the last day by prioritizing your tasks, allowing you to relax the following day.

4. Make daily plans

Your tasks should then be organized into days and timeboxes. If your project is long-term, you can break it up into different time periods. You can begin intimidating projects in this way by taking baby steps. You'll feel better as a result and realize that there are some things you shouldn't put too much weight on.

When filling your "productivity calendar", you should also be careful not to fill every day and every space to be prepared for unexpected emergencies.

5. Work and evaluate

As the last step, you can now start working on your tasks. Don't forget not to waste your time on a task if you run out of time because decreasing the time spent on a task is the aim of the timeboxing method.

If you are working with a team, give your team time to complete each assignment, and then at the conclusion of the day, you can plan a briefing to review the day's events. Assess whether the goal was achieved by comparing the outcome to the objective. If the assignment wasn't finished, be sure to look into what went wrong and come up with ideas for how to prevent it from happening again.

timeboxing technique

Disadvantages of timeboxing

Timeboxing may not be the best method for managing your task for everyone because you can find it challenging to pause and move to a different work when you are fully focused, therefore you can hesitate you'll lose your flow. Additionally, you could find it challenging to follow the timetable due to frequent interruptions like telephone calls or surprise visits from coworkers or friends even your children if you are a remote working parent.

But don't worry, practice makes it better! The more you start to get used to working with timeboxing method the more you will be able to see its benefits.

Hints for Timeboxing

Take breaks

You are a human being after all. Reward yourself or your team and rest your mind after each timebox with breaks. This way, you can remain productive and be ready to work on the next timebox.

Better to set the time a little more than it needs.

Timeboxes might vary in length depending on the difficulty of the task at hand as well as any additional responsibilities your staff or you may have, so it is important to make sure to create timeboxes that would not lead to dissatisfaction, exhaustion and missed deadlines.

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For more time management tips you can always check out our blog section:

14 Easy Time Management Skills to Apply

Do’s and Don'ts of The Time Management

A Guide to The 4Ds of Time Management

Mastering The Art of Time Management

FAQ

What is the difference between time boxing and time blocking?

Although timeboxing and time blocking are frequently mistaken for one another, there are significant differences between the two. Both time blocking and timeboxing entail giving activities set time periods to complete. However, To focus on a certain work or activity, time blocking requires that you set out specific time slots while timeboxing involves restricting the amount of time you spend on each activity.

Shorter time windows that you can put on your calendar that is used for time blocking are called "time blocks". They typically provide a start and finish time for an activity. Each time block is intended to serve as motivation for you to stick to your plan and complete your work on time.

At the conclusion of the time block, you evaluate whether you were able to complete the activity before the end of the allotted time, if not, you simply assign more time to the same task the following time.

What is the meaning of timeboxing in agile software development?

It's actually the same thing, just in a different field! In agile software development, a timebox is a set amount of time during which a work must be completed. Timeboxes are frequently employed to control risk in software development. Development teams are frequently given a deadline of a certain number of weeks and requested to produce a releasable update to the software.

How can you use time box for sprint planning?

The duration of the sprint is set using the timeboxing technique. The sprint is a period of time, usually lasting a month or fewer, during which a team must complete its goals. A team sets the timeframe for the Sprint Planning meeting when it debuts. For a sprint that lasts one month, the sprint planning meeting must be timeboxed at 8 hours or fewer.

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Conclusion

Making sure you use your time wisely is the goal of timeboxing. You need to give each assignment a clear deadline in order to employ this strategy. When a timebox is complete, you evaluate your performance and go on to the next one. Timeboxing has a lot of advantages. It can assist you and your team members in overcoming analysis paralysis, reducing the propensity to procrastinate, and improving motivation when used to plan your day or while assigning work.

Timeboxing technique also enables you to assess your degree of efficiency. Using this knowledge, you may plan vital chores for when you are most productive and leave less important ones for the times when you're more likely to get distracted. In order to avoid taking on too much and running the risk of burnout, timeboxing can also help you assess whether you have sufficient free time for other assignments.

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