Elon Musk is no ordinary man. You would think that such a wealthy man would take time to enjoy life. But no, the man works double the hours of a full-time employee. Between Tesla and SpaceX and a myriad of other projects – not to mention his family – the man has seemingly no second to spare.
Most of his time on the projects is spent on the engineering and design aspects as opposed to business. These are mentally heavy tasks. So how does he schedule and organize his day? Timeboxing.
What is Timeboxing?
Also known as time blocking, it is the practice of setting a fixed amount of time for each task and integrating the resulting time blocks into your daily schedule. Musk, Bill Gates, and other notable figures use this method to plan their packed days to great effect.
Advantages of Timeboxing
It sounds a bit robotic, right? Having your entire day planned out with no room for spontaneity? Well, think about it another way.
Timeboxing makes you way more productive. Having an unstructured day runs the risk of losing lots of hours to miscellaneous tasks. Timeboxing:
- Removes choice from that equation, and so less time is spent on deciding on the next course of action because the day is already planned out.
- Intensifies your focus. Because of the time limitations, you become more productive and focused because you know each task only has a limited time allocation.
- Helps you keep all your commitments. Insanely packed days can easily make you forget about the plans you made or promises you were supposed to keep. With a timeslot for everything, you won’t miss a thing.
How To Use Timeboxing
It’s easy. Write out on your daily planner. This can be on a book, whiteboard, or in a time block-centric app. Write down every task and your estimates for the time it will take to complete that task.
Calendar For Timeboxing
If you, however, already have a lot of pre-planned events in your schedule like appointments, incorporating a calendar into your timeboxing will work better. This will have specific start and stop times as opposed to just writing the duration for each task. This works well for students or even for work where the day has intermittent free periods.
It is important to be aware of the human tendency to underestimate the time it takes to accomplish tasks. We almost always go with the best-case scenarios when allocating durations, and this may make time blocking ineffective. We ignore things like traffic and other situations that may interfere with estimations. The solutions? Track your time.
Track Your Time
It is better to first time yourself doing your daily tasks to have a better understanding of how long it takes. Whether manually or using an app, it will give you a much better time estimation.
Split Bigger Tasks into Sub-Tasks
When tracking your time, it is easier if you break down large tasks like writing a research paper into – say – research, consolidation, and typing. This becomes more manageable and gives you a better understanding of how you work.
What About Interruptions?
We cannot avoid interruptions and timeboxing is affected by them. The only thing to do id to revise the plan accordingly and make the necessary adjustments. You can alternatively have extra time slots for reacting to whatever interruptions come up during the day. Do not be discouraged if you do not follow the plan to the letter.
Do Not Overschedule
Once you get started on timeboxing, the allure of overscheduling becomes apparent. You will be tempted to cram as much into your day as possible. Do not fall for it.
Get Yourself the Vibe Planner for Timeboxing
A planner is one of the most useful tools when it comes to planning out your day. There is just something about seeing something in your handwriting that makes it sink in. When practicing timeboxing, you can chart out the time blocks in your planner and really maximize on your productivity, even as you inch that much closer to your goals. Get it here!