Be More Effective – Week 17: Start Time Boxing


Work and time have that funny relationship, where a given task always takes exactly as much time as you have allocated for it.

If you have planned an hour to catch up on your email, it will take an hour. If you have planned 30 mins, then you most likely will get just as much done. If you give yourself an afternoon to clean the yard, it will take an afternoon. If you give yourself the whole weekend it will surly take that long (and you likely won’t even get finished).

Even worse, if you don’t set a time limit, chances are that you will keep on working (or being distracted), without ever getting the job done.

Set your self an aggressive time limit and then get the job done in that time.

If you set yourself an aggressive time limit to get a job done, you box it into a certain space in your calendar. You time box.

Time boxing (if you took an aggressive time frame) will make you prioritize. It will help you focus on getting the job done and prevent you from getting distracted because you feel you have all the time in the world. You’re on a clock, you have to be efficient. Because you have to be efficient you will be efficient.

Also plan a little break time after your time box. Focus and push but know that you will be able to let go and relax a little afterwards.

Find what timeframes work for you. Few people get a meaningful amount of things done in periods shorter than 30 mins. It just takes a while to get mentally organized and started. Likewise our concentration tends to go down after an hours and it is usually a good idea to take a break.

Notice when you can no longer keep up the concentration and take a break. When I feel that I get inefficient in the evening, I will go home. There might be work left, but I will be more effective and efficient the next morning. At that stage an hour sleep is worth more than an hour pretend-work.

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