Using the clock with intention
“Timeboxing,” or setting a time limit for a given task, is an incredibly useful strategy. The amount of time you need for a timebox on a given task–1 minute, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 6 weeks–is not that important. But it’s key to make sure that you actually feel constrained. Why?
Often times, we know we need to do something, but we don’t really want to do it. Timeboxing gives us permission to only do it during that time.
Other times, we know we need to do something, but we don’t know how long it will take us and whether it will be “worth it.” Timeboxing gives us a framework to explore a bit, gain a bit more perspective, all without committing to the whole thing.
And other times, we know we need to do something, but we have competing priorities and we want to “have it all.” Timeboxing forces you to choose, but gives you the permission to make the other tradeoffs necessary.
For example, I knew I wanted to write a blog post today, but I don’t have much time this morning. By setting a timer for 25 minutes, I knew I couldn’t let the “perfect be the enemy of the good.” Accepting that 25 minutes would be good enough for a post, and if it resonated, I could spend more time later, is a reasonable compromise for the other tasks I need to do today.
We often think of time as a constraint or limited resource. Leaning into that, timeboxing gives us the ability to use that constraint to give us the focus we need to create.