Timeboxing is something I’ve experimented recently, and ties in well to helping you overcome and avoid burnout. Timeboxing is a relatively old idea, but something I’ve only stumbled upon in the last two years or so. Steve Pavlina writes about it in his blog on personal development. The essence of the technique, as I see it, is to cut the amount of wasted on procrastinating and to focus on the important things.
Timeboxing involves setting up set time periods to finish tasks. By breaking down a project into smaller manageable chunks you’ve done yourself a huge favor already. Each of the small chucks are completed within a set limit(say 20 minutes per task). While most sites I’ve read say small chunks are 10 minutes or so. I’ll break down my approach to timeboxing as an example.
My Timeboxing Routine
Whenever I go to write a blog post on Flustered Grad, I give myself a maximum of 2 minutes to think up a title and topic for the post. I take a 2 minute break afterwards. I tackle the main writing of the post in 5 minute bursts. Doing all this allows me to push myself to get the post done. The alternative, is for me to either put off writing(which is not good), or I’ll end up spending way too much time researching a good topic, writing everything up and checking everything over twice. Timeboxing is the ‘nun with the ruler’ standing over my shoulder making sure that I’m staying on task. It’s the little push you need to work your best, even if it’s just to beat the clock! Setting the time constraints so small forces me to focus on the task at hand to complete it on time. Overall, it takes me a lot less time to write an article timeboxing than not. I think I’ve averaged around 20 minutes total for most posts. Not too shabby!
Warning: Timeboxing May Be Addictive!
Once you get into timeboxing you may find it creeping into all aspects of your life. If you’re an optimization freak(like me!) you might find yourself timeboxing all sorts of things. I timeboxed my shower and getting dressed the other morning and wow did I save time! Timeboxing is simple and easy to do. All you need is yourself, a task(or list of small tasks), and a timer of some sort. I used to use computer timers(online and software ones), but found that having a good old-fashioned egg timer was fine. Plus, I could timebox things while away from the computer; which was important for me.
Hopefully you will give timeboxing a shot! It could change your life for the better! If you’ve used timeboxing or a similar technique to manage your time let me know by leaving a comment below.