Monday, 20 October 2014

Time Boxing Unwrapped

Time Boxing is really just about time management. However if you're anything like me and hate formal  time management tools but you want help with how to focus on the important things, then maybe this approach will work for you.

Time boxing is worth a try if you are

A Procrastinator  - not being able to start  until everything else is done and  you can give the task your full attention. I can identify strongly with this, tell tale signs will be me tidying my desk and cleaning surfaces, or basically anything else I can think of that puts off the task a bit longer.

Reluctant or really not that interested in the task. If this is the case asking yourself if you still need to do this or could it it be delegated to some-one else. If the answer is "yes I do need to do this and it is my responsibility", then time boxing is going to be really useful.

A Perfectionist- you find it difficult to know when to stop and keep amending and trying to perfect your work....the consequence of this may be that everything is open ended and  tasks are rarely completed. Sometimes we may feel under confident that our work will be accepted and  valued. This may also mean  that we are reluctant to be open to criticism even if it is constructive. 

Time Boxing Unwrapped
Chunk up the task into definite stages ...but be clear what each stage is and realistic about what you want to achieve in the allotted time.

Step 1 Clear your desk of everything you will not need for the task, divert calls block the time out in you diary. Put up a do not disturb sign.

Step 2 Set your timer, it is important to know when time is up as that's it...... If it is  a task that has to be completed to a deadline then Time Boxing will not work if you schedule up to the wire . Remember you may need more than one session to complete.  There is no guarantee the task will be finished but the important thing is to get the task started and schedule another time block later if it needs more time. Obviously the more complex the task the longer it will generally take. It's beneficial to concentrate for shorter periods of time, with practice you will find your optimum concentration time. Personally I like to work in 40 min slots for most day to day tasks. Practice has shown me how long I can realistically spend on any task before I become unproductive.

Step 3 When the alarm rings finish there and stop working. I always think of The Great British Bake Off at this point .........put that piping bag down and move away from your buns! Time is up.  Even if the task isn't fully completed chances are you would have at least made progress and have a  good return on your investment in  time.  This strategy also works when you have  to give progress reports to your line manager and shows exactly how you are spending your time.

Did I Time Box this blog? 
Yes .......30 minutes to mind map 40 minutes to write. Job done! 

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