Thursday, December 27, 2012

Advantages Of Using Time Boxing

By Kathy H. Davis

When I first read the term on Twitter a few weeks ago I thought to myself, "Do I need to get some boxing gloves? What in the world is time boxing?" Of course, I had to read on and liked what I read.Time boxing is a way to schedule tasks, in both your personal and business life, to help you achieve goals and meet deadlines. Wikipedia describes time boxing as "a time management technique common in software development projects to plan out a project, for example the creation of a new IT system, by splitting the project up in a number of separate time periods (normally two to six weeks long)."

It goes on to say for personal time boxing: "Individuals can use time boxing for personal tasks, as well. This technique utilizes a reduced scale of time (e.g., 30 minutes instead of a week) and deliverables (e.g., chores instead of a component of a business project). Personal time boxing also works to curb perfectionist tendencies by setting a firm time and not over commit to a task. This method can also be used to overcome procrastination (delaying activities or tasks)."how many of us are guilty of procrastination or being a perfectionist? What about at the end of the day feeling like you didn't get enough accomplished or you've forgotten something?I can honestly say since starting time boxing, I feel more organized, more productive, and more on top of my game. Ready to hear how?First, I use my Outlook calendar to block out my time, and then I print it so I have a paper version I can refer to throughout the day. You may be a pen and paper person and prefer to use an appointment book, or maybe you rely heavily on your PDA. Choose which method works best for you.

Another advantage of this technique is closely related to the first one I mentioned and it is called discipline. Why? Because when you have trained yourself to focus on tasks, no matter how little the time you have set aside for each task, it takes discipline to follow it and to actually focus on the tasks.

Next I looked at my To Do List, prioritized it, estimated the time each task would take, and then found a place for it within my calendar. I keep my tasks limited to 30 - 60 minutes each "effort", so therefore if one project is going to take four hours to complete I will break it down into four different segments and spread it out. This gives me time to refresh my brain for each effort plus it helps me plan for the deadline. If this particular project is due in just two days, then I might schedule a couple segments for each day, but if it's due in a week I'll break them up over the course of several days.The beauty of using Outlook is that I can easily move scheduled events around! If I don't get to a certain event because of something unexpected, it's no big deal - just drag it to another place within the calendar. (Note: if you already "dismissed" the event, you will need to turn the Alarm back on).I can also color code my events, which I do because I like the visual of seeing at a glance which time is personal, communication, company growth, or paying work.

However, my absolute favorite feature in Outlook is the Alarm! Oh what a lifesaver that is. I schedule every event with the alarm so that it will sound and tell me "Wrap up what you are doing and move on to the next task." Sometimes I get very involved in a task and hours will go by before I look at the clock again, so this is an excellent way to stop me in my tracks and keep me productive (or let me eat lunch!).I am happy to report that utilizing Time Boxing has really helped to improve my daily productivity especially since joining time-vampires such as Twitter and Facebook (which are necessary evils). Time Boxing keeps me focused and helps me accomplish more in an efficient manner. I love it and recommend it to everyone!

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