Time Boxing

With Time Boxing you allocate a certain amount of time to your tasks, as opposed to working on something until it’s finished.

There are two ideas behind this approach:

  1. You’re working on a single task with more focus, and
  2. It is an effective ‘cure’ against Parkinson’s law.

Parkinson’s law says:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

In other words, if you have four days for a project, it’ll take you about four days to finish it, while you’d finish it in two if you’d just have two days. There may be more pressure, but you’ll find ways to finish it in time.

Obviously you can’t reduce your time to unrealistic levels. You have to play with this approach a bit. Time box in 30 (Pomodoro), 60 or 90 minutes. If your projects are bigger than that, break them down so until their parts fit in the time boxes you set for yourself.

I’m always intrigued how many people know breaking down big projects is a good approach, but never use it. Try this approach tomorrow. Pick a task, break it down and set short deadlines for it. See how will work for you.

Tomorrow Starts Today

Do you ever have the feeling after a full day’s work, that you haven’t accomplished much? That you haven’t made any progress at all? If you have, you’re in good company. Even the most productive people have this problem from time to time. But don’t worry: there’s a good solution.

When we do our everyday tasks we often jump everywhere with little sense of direction. We get lost in our day to day chores and aren’t moving forward with our most important goals. We stray from our path when a colleague asks us a question, when something unexpected happens, or just because we’re just reading mail or that interesting article on (shudders) Reddit.

To keep my focus, or ‘direction’, I write down my most important tasks for the next day. I usually do this in the evening before I go to bed. Another good time is at the end of the day when you finish work. This way, your unconscious mind can already start working on the problems. Also it’ll be clear what you should do to finish the next day with a satisfied feeling.

If you’re adopting this strategy, don’t write down too many tasks. Take at most two or three that can be completed in about fifty percent of your time. This leaves room for other urgent tasks that may require your attention, while still moving your projects forward.