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Can timeboxing increase productivity?

A hand is holding an animated analog clock between its fingers, an timeboxing increase productivity? Virtual Gurus

Karen Wilson

July 27, 2021

As a business owner, it can feel like every new project, new meeting, or even new client is a major kitchen renovation. It’s more time, more energy and sometimes more money.

On Monday, you want to come out of the day knowing you did your absolute best – giving your 100% in everything. Then, the week speeds by and the to-do list is no smaller; it’s bigger.

I have found a tool that has helped me compartmentalize my days – it’s known as Timeboxing, originally named by Elon Musk.

How do we get it all done in a normal workweek? 

“In time management, timeboxing allocates a fixed time period, called a timebox, within which planned activity takes place. It is used by several project management approaches and for personal time management.” – Wikipedia

It doesn’t always work, but if I have a forecast of my week, it helps me know what I have room for and can say yes to, and when I really must say no.

In some lines of work — in communications or project management — it might BE your job to talk to people all day; you’ll want to schedule these interactions into your day. And remember: these “meetings” will create more items on your “to-do list”; you’ll want to schedule things in as well.

Consistency is key with the Timeboxing Technique

Timeboxing is very effective to do weekly and daily. Things are bound to shift. It’s essential to be disciplined but also to allow for a  bit of movement.

Timeboxing helps you stay in control when you feel out of control, and you have the power to shift timeboxes around. Many people find that consistency with this process increases their productivity AND frees up more time for leisure.

Here is my 7-step process for Timeboxing a week:

  1. Take out a calendar that gives you an overview of the week. You can use paper, a planner, whatever you prefer. 
  1. Carve out your work time,  your “office hours.”
  1. Schedule your breaks and self-care time.
  1. Look at your responsibilities. These may include clients, projects, meetings, etc.
  1. Establish how many hours you can work this week. 
  1. Divide your client load into the hours from #5, and allow for some wiggle room. Be sure to have time blocks to go through your inbox, and send out any necessary communications. 
  1. Schedule an “overflow day,” but do not rely on it. Be sure to use this time to catch up. On your overflow day, it’s like you are out of the office – no new work and no meetings.

Now you have your base – your “best-case scenario.” This exercise will give you complete control over your schedule, and life will be blissful in a perfect world.

The value is in the planning, not the plan 

The benefits of Timeboxing are that you know:

  1. what you have to say ‘no’ to, to make your plan happen, and 
  2. what is worth a schedule change.

Do your best to stay in the box you are in at the time you are in it. For example, turn off messaging apps and notifications on your phone. Take away your distractions. 

Try this for a couple of weeks, and let us know if your productivity and leisure time increase. Timeboxing also forces you to look at everything you do every week. When you see it all on paper, you may begin to find tasks that you can delegate to other teams members or a Virtual Assistant.

Karen, Virtual Gurus

Karen Wilson

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