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7 Min. Read

What Is Timeboxing? The Complete Guide

What Is Timeboxing? The Complete Guide

As the saying goes, time is money.

But as American entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said, time is more valuable than money. You can get more money but you can never get more time.

So surely, as it’s such a valuable resource, we should be doing everything we can to make the most out of our time in the workplace.

When you’re running your own business, time is a precious resource.

It’s also something that should be kept a close eye on. For example, if you’re working on a project and there are no boundaries on your time, it can very quickly get out of hand. Things that should only take 30 minutes can end up taking hours. Things that should only take a few hours end up taking days. Time lost is money lost.

That’s where timeboxing can come in handy. But what exactly is timeboxing?

We’ll take a closer look at the popular time management tool in our complete guide. We'll make sure you understand the ins and outs of using timeboxing so that you can help your business effectively manage its time.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

What Is Time Management?

What Is Timeboxing?

A Hard Timebox

A Soft Timebox

What Are the Benefits of Timeboxing?

Key Takeaways

What Is Time Management?

Time management is the process of planning and organizing how to divide your time. This would be done between different specific tasks, projects and activities.

When time management is used effectively, it allows you and your team to work smarter, not harder. This means that you can streamline your processes and get tasks done to the correct level of quality, but in less time.

It can be quite daunting when you are faced with a large, complex project. But with time management, you can effectively divide and allocate your time between tasks. This in turn can help to make project management easier and less stressful.

However, if your time is mismanaged, then things can quickly become undone. You can fall behind on work, you can miss deadlines, and you can cause unnecessary stress and complications.

What Is Timeboxing?

The concept of timeboxing was first proposed in 1991 by author James Martin. He created it as a part of agile software development which was explained in his book “Rapid Application Development”.

Timeboxing is a straightforward time management technique. It involves setting a fixed, maximum amount of time that can be put towards a specific task in advance. It’s a form of implementing time constraints to increase productivity and reduce the amount of time that is wasted.

It can be described as a goal-oriented approach. It involves allocating chunks of time to complete individual tasks within a certain time frame. Each of these different chunks are known as a “timebox”.

You will work on the activity during the predetermined timebox and stop working as soon as the allocated time is up. You will then assess whether or not you’ve reached your planned goals.

A timebox should be treated in the same way you would treat an important meeting. You cannot reschedule it at the last minute and you can’t have distractions around you while you work.

Timeboxing can also be used to define individual tasks. If you’re working as a part of a project team, then you can use timeboxing to organize yours and your team's schedule. It can also help you to manage meetings more effectively.

When collaborating as a team, it’s important that you can gain insight into what each member of the team is working on. It’s also useful to know the deadlines of each member's tasks so that you can have a solid view of the overall project. Therefore, timeboxing is best used alongside time management or time tracking tools.

There are two different types of timeboxes. So before you get started on a task, you’ll need to decide what type of timebox you’re going to use. The different types of timeboxes are as follows:

A Hard Timebox

A hard timebox uses a strict set of rules that you must follow. As soon as the time limit is up, you have to stop the allocated task, even if it hasn’t been successfully completed.

Once the time is up, you can assess whether or not further work is needed. If it is, you can set another timebox up. If it isn’t, then you have to put the task to one side and move on.

Hard timeboxes are great for people who suffer from perfectionism. This is because it stops you from revisiting or working more on tasks that have already been completed.

They are also useful for team meetings that tend to drag on longer than they should. It puts pressure on the meeting to make sure each and every item has been ticked off of the predefined meeting agenda.

A Soft Timebox

A soft timebox on the other hand is the more flexible version of the time management tool.

Each time period can be seen as more of a suggestion than a hard and fast rule. This means that you can reassess the timeframe and add extra time if you feel it’s necessary.

Soft timeboxes are great for particularly complex projects or for work that you are unfamiliar with. It gives you a more flexible schedule to work with and allows for adjustments.

They’re also great for creative meetings where conversations should be allowed to flow. Soft timeboxing means that you can effectively stay on track but without disrupting the train of thought.

What Are the Benefits of Timeboxing?

There are a wide range of benefits that you can gain from utilizing the timeboxing technique. Here are some of the main ones:

  • You can help curb procrastination by forcing yourself to start working on your tasks. This is because if you don’t stick to your block of time, it will eat into the time for your other tasks.
  • You can set strict limits on how much time you can work on a specific task. This will help you to structure your day and allow you to prioritize certain tasks.
  • When you know what you’ll be doing at a certain time, you can make sure that you aren’t distracted or interrupted by other people.
  • It’s a great way to curb any issues with perfectionism or overthinking.
  • It gives you a nice rhythm to work in. You can plan your day in the morning and be strict about how long you end up working.
  • You can be far more productive with your working day. Many of us will spend far more time on a task than is strictly necessary. So by fully embracing timeboxing you can banish old habits and become more productive and streamlined.

Key Takeaways

By using the timeboxing technique, you can take steps towards avoiding missed deadlines. It also helps you to avoid low quality work, as well as any issues with overworking tasks.

When you’re working hard, time has a tendency to fly past. But with timeboxing, you’ll never let time run away from you so you can get everything done that needs to be done.

It also allows you to gain a certain amount of control over your daily schedule. You know exactly what you’ll be doing and exactly when you’ll be doing it. So for anyone who needs some more structure in their working day, timeboxing can be a truly beneficial tool.

Are you looking for more business advice on everything from starting a new business to new business practices?

Then check out the FreshBooks Resource Hub.


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