Timeboxing Will Help You Fly Through That To-Do List

There are tons of productivity hacks out there, some of them are completely unattainable, while others have real merit. One with real merit is timeboxing.

Learning this time hack will keep you focused on the big things in life and help you let go of the little time drags throughout your day.

First things first, what is timeboxing?

Timeboxing is allotting a fixed, maximum unit of time for an activity. That unit of time is called a time box. The goal of timeboxing is to define and limit the amount of time dedicated to an activity. Timeboxing is a common feature of many project management methodologies because timeboxing keeps teams focused on accomplishing the task at hand by providing a clear definition of done. Timeboxing also encourages people to start getting work done immediately.

How to Get Started

Timeboxing takes your to-do list and reimagines it. It focuses your list into chunks of time, or “timeboxes,” that you literally commit to on a calendar. So, assign a fixed period of time to a to-do item, schedule it, and stick to it.

For example, let’s say you have a to-do list that looks like this:

  • Finalize and turn in budget
  • Create new invoices and revise old invoices
  • Hair appointment
  • Start new blog and research new topics
  • Lunch meeting
  • Research vacation beach spots
  • Kid’s dentist appointment

The first thing you would do is determine how long each of these projects would take. For big projects that take an hour or more, split them up into a few steps and tackle one at a time. So now your to-do list might look like this:

  • Finalize budget – 1 hour
  • Turn in budget – 5 mins
  • Create invoices- 30 min
  • Revise old invoices- 30 min
  • Hair appointment- 1 hour
  • Start new blog- 30 mins
  • Research new blog topics- 10 mins
  • Lunch meeting- 1 hour
  • Research vacation beach spots- 10 mins
  • Kid’s dentist appointment- 1 hour

Set an alarm to stay on task. When time’s up, see how far you’ve gotten, make a note, then start the next task. At the end of your day make your to-do list for the next day and carry over the tasks you did not complete with a new time limit assigned. For things like hair appointments and dentists’ appointments, you may have to give up your control over time a bit, but seeing an allotted time will help you organize your day accordingly.

With timeboxing, you can very nicely organize and standardize your calendar. It’s also a good idea to set aside answering emails into two or three time boxes a day so you don’t get bogged down with minutia.