Timeboxing or as Cal Newport calls it ”time-blocking” is a time management system which divides your time and tasks into timeblocks, whether it’s 5 minute blocks like Elon Musk’s method or a few hour block.
Anytime you’ve used a planner with pre-planned one hour slots, you’ve used Timeboxing. But you also probably noticed using that method doesn’t offer much flexibility for unexpected tasks or events.
But why does timeboxing increase your productivity?
Because you have a deadline.
You have a limited amount of time you can spend on a task before your schedule tells you it’s time to move on. This ‘’deadline’’ mindset helps improve your focus on the specific task and minimizes your chances of grabbing your phone mid-work.
Sometimes people ask why I bother with such a detailed level of planning. My answer is simple: it generates a massive amount of productivity. A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure. – Cal Newport
So, now that you know how timeboxing works and why it works, how do you implement it into your daily schedule?
Well, the first thing you can do is write out a list of things that are happening this week, whether it’s school, job, dentist’s appointment, taking your dog for a walk etc. and estimate how long it will take you to finish those tasks. After that, get a planner or a piece of paper and write those things that are for sure happening down. Set a specific time of the day when you’re going to do them and actually stick to it.
After you’ve added your tasks that are definitely happening and can’t be avoided that easily, start adding slowly and progressively other projects you want to work on.
‘’The more you try to do, the less you actually accomplish.’’ – The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals
Take note however you won’t be suddenly spending 10 hours a day on projects you spent 2 hours before, and that timeboxing won’t help your productivity if you don’t actually get up and get going.
‘’An idiot with a plan can beat a genius without a plan.’’ – Warren Buffett
If you don’t feel like having a paper planner, you can always use Google Calendar or other apps that offer you a calendar or a planner on your phone or laptop.
But how do you use timeboxing when unexpected events and interruptions pop up all the time?
Here’s how Cal Newport does it.
This page is divided into two columns. In the left column, I dedicated two lines to each hour of the day and then divided that time into blocks labeled with specific assignments. In the right column, I add explanatory notes for these blocks where needed.
Notice that I leave some extra room next to my time blocks. This allows me to make corrections as needed if the day unfolds in an unexpected way.
Do you use timeboxing or do you prefer to-do lists? Let us know in the comments!
To view Cal Newport’s post on timeboxing, click here.