Timeboxing To Avoid Procrastination

bloxing-glovesEditor’s note: This is a guest post from Jon Rhodes

Timeboxing is a clever little technique that I have been intuitively using for years before I even knew it had  name. It is great for helping those who are working for themselves to avoid procrastination and get things done.

In a nutshell, it is giving yourself a deadline in which to complete a task, then doing it to the best you can with the time you have available. Here is an example of how I use this technique with my daughter to encourage her to tidy her room.

Examples Of Timeboxing

My daughter is 13 and not the tidiest of creatures, so her room is often a “tip”. When faced with the task it can understandably be daunting, and she doesn’t want to tackle it. However I have solved this by saying to her I will time her and she has only 10 minutes to make it as good as she can. It’s like a challenge, a sort of a game. I say you don’t need to finish it, just make it as good as you can in 10 minutes.

This makes her happier because she knows that she won’t be spending hours laboriously tidying. It’s only 10 minutes. Plus it makes it more fun as there is a game element to it, plus she will get praise for how much she has accomplished in such a short space of time. Every time we have done this she finished tidying her room and it is immaculate. It’s amazing what you can do with this technique.

Recently my wife got up late (around 11am) and needed to do her college homework, then go into town to buy a Christmas present. She also had college early that evening, so didn’t have a great deal of time to play with. I suggested to her that she does an hour homework right now, then we will go into town together and pick a present, then go to lunch. Although her homework was only half complete, we were eating lunch by 1pm with a present on the floor next to us. By 2.30pm we were home and she had more time to finish her homework. What could have been an unpleasant and stressful day was turned into a nice day with some leisure time, plus she achieved her objectives.  Without this technique she could have instead spent the day worrying, and getting little done.

Applications To Work

You can use timeboxing to help you with almost any given task. If your desk is untidy, then you might give yourself 10 minutes to make it look as good as you can. A big stack of filing can be made into a game if you give yourself 20 minutes to file as many as you can.

You can also use it to write articles, which is what I often do. Of course you want to write high quality articles (or at least I hope you do!), but this is OK. You can give yourself a realistic time line to complete a draft of an article. Somewhere around 2 hours is good. Then once it is finished, you can take a break, or give yourself some sort of a reward, before re-drafting. You may even want to give yourself a time limit for each redraft. I don’t seem to need to do this, as when I have finished an article, I actively enjoy the process of redrafting – sad I know! The point is that we are all different, and as you get to know yourself better, you will use this technique more and more effectively.

Why Timeboxing Works

Timeboxing works because it helps you get started with something, instead of worrying about how you are going to do it. It also helps bypass the pressures of perfectionism, which can hamper us from starting, continuing, and finishing a task. Jobs that at first appear intimidating can seem far simpler with timeboxing.

About the Author

Jon Rhodes is a clinical hypnotherapist, plus a successful internet marketer in the hypnotherapy field. In his blog he shares some of his secrets. Find more of his tips for successful business on his blog Affiliate Help.

* Image courtesy of KWDesigns

5 thoughts on “Timeboxing To Avoid Procrastination”

  1. Hi Jon,

    What a great strategy! It’s true that when we think a task is going to drag on forever, we have a hard time getting started. Alternatively,when we don’t put a time limit on it, the task does indeed keep expanding to eat up all available minutes so nothing else gets done.

    I’ll be trying this out for myself on any number of tasks. I’ll also be sharing this technique with my near and dear ones who are also inclined to procrastinate in the face of seemingly daunting tasks.

    Have a great day.

  2. So there’s a term of it! When I need to do something and I get bummed because I feel I might spend the entire day doing it, I tell myself to do get things done as much as possible in an hour or two. It works!

  3. Thanks for your comments Sue, and I’m glad you like this approach. I’m sure it will work for you. A lot of people have difficulty starting something because it can be just too daunting at first. Also I beleive that we are hard wired not to do something unless we have to. Like in the wild we would not waste time and energy on doing things that weren’t directly related to food and shelter. Of course many things such as business are related to our food and shelter, but I think our brains don’t really see the link as it is too far removed.

    Please come back and let us know how it works for you Sue!

  4. Yes Rose, I was also surpried there was a term for it. This is something I was doing instinctively before I had ever heard of it!

  5. Hi, this is a clever way to manage tasks and time. A friend of mine uses this in her quilting. Piecing a quilt can be tedious and time consuming so she breaks it down and allots 1/2 hour/day in the early morning to work on piecing. She is not really concerned about how much she does, just that she is working on it every day. Amazing how much gets done in a week!

Comments are closed.