4 ways timeboxing can boost productivity

4 min read  |   13 May, 2022   By Aimée Brougham-Chandler

A woman sits at her desk looking at her work calendar on her computer screen. The back of her head can be seen and the screen is in full view, showing different-coloured meetings or blocks of time.

Have you ever wondered if you’re working as effectively as you could be? Do you stare at an endless to-do list, often not knowing where to start?

In this blog, we delve deeper into the concept of timeboxing - introduced to us by Wendy Read of HR Revolution in a recent Q&A about managing stress in the HR profession.

We also look at how this time management concept can help SMEs boost productivity levels. 


What is timeboxing?

Timeboxing is the act of merging your to-do list into blocks of time for each task within your work calendar or diary.

Setting a block of time for each task helps to organise your day and clearly plan what you’re working on – and exactly when you’ll be working on it.

This keeps you accountable to the work you need to do & the timeframe they need to be completed within. Timeboxing also helps to prevent procrastination.


Why is timeboxing useful?

The traditional to-do list can be overwhelming & become ineffective. We’ve all experienced looking at all the things you have to do but not knowing where to start.

Using the timeboxing method & committing to working on a specific task in the time period you’ve blocked out helps to efficiently manage time and workload.


How timeboxing works

To get started, you'll need to plan and allocate a certain amount of time for each task – and stick to it. Set a timer if this helps. Remember to take short breaks to allow your brain to recharge throughout the day.

Essentially, all you need to do is estimate how long each task will take, allocate the time in your calendar and then review at the end of the slot/at the end of the day. You can always adjust priorities or tasks for the next day if needed (in the case that something more urgent has come up).


4 ways timeboxing can boost productivity

1. Eliminates the choice paradox 

Timeboxing removes the paradox of choice so you can begin tasks & the working day more efficiently. Rather than staring at a mounting to-do list (which feels like it’s never going to end) this way of working structures the day and allows you to dive straight in.


2. Prevents planning fallacy 

Arranging tasks in a visual way provides a more accurate perspective on how our time is actually spent and helps prevent planning fallacy.

Planning fallacy describes the human tendency to underestimate how much time a task will take to finish – and overestimate how quickly we can complete it.

Regularly reviewing the tasks we complete means that we gain a much more accurate depiction of how long something takes us to do, meaning we can be more realistic with deadlines & understand how we work better.


3. Review where time is spent 

Timeboxing provides a record of how you’re using your time – so when the working week is flying by and you wonder where it’s gone, you can clearly see where your time has been spent.

When it comes to performance review time, even the busiest of people can often find their minds going temporarily blank when asked to review the past 3 months. With timeboxing, you can simply glance back through your calendar and easily see what you’ve been working on.


4. Provides structure

Timeboxing forces a task to be completed within a designated time frame. Using timeboxing should prevent perfectionism, stopping a task from feeling like it's never completely finished. It ensures deadlines are met because both the deadline & the time reserved to meet the deadline has been planned in advance.


Manage time more efficiently

Timeboxing helps to improve productivity by breaking tasks down into manageable sections. It also allows employees to become more aware of their workload – in terms of planning their time and where they’re spending it.

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Author: Aimée Brougham-Chandler

Aimée is a Content Assistant here at Breathe. She enjoys writing about topical HR issues & helping readers find solutions. In her spare time, she's commonly found amongst books.

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