Oct 6, 2020

10 Tips for effective Time-Boxing


10 tips for effective time-boxing

Around a month back, I shared in this post that I plan my day in 15-min time slots. I have received a couple of DMs on how to go about doing it. I spoke with someone in detail last evening on the same topic and I felt it would be useful to share my strategy and a few tips for those who would like to follow a similar time-boxing strategy to manage their time.

Disclaimer - Nothing listed below is carved in stone. I'm a human and I do tend to deviate at times from whatever I had planned. 
I don't follow any rigid schedule during weekends and festival days. This helps me to demarcate weekends and weekdays more clearly, given the current pandemic situation.
(1) Identify the days and timings to plan depending on your working days/sleep schedule etc. I plan my regular weekdays (Mon-Fri) in 15-min time slots from 6 AM to 10 PM.  
(2) Take a paper (or a digital calendar) and split the time into time slots that would work for you - 15-min or 30-min. I don't plan for every single 15-min time slot in this 16-hour window. I have deliberately left a few time-slots open, so that the schedule doesn't become too rigid.
(3) The primary purpose of this time-boxing strategy is to allocate time for activities that are important to me - self-care, cooking, learning, writing etc. Identify those activities that are non-negotiable and first add them to your time-boxing day calendar - exercise, meditation, learning, deep breathing etc. Block your time out for these activities before the other priorities take over.
(4) How you start your day determines how the rest of the day will progress. So take the time to plan your morning routine.
  1. As I mentioned earlier, I love the quiet, peaceful morning time where I get a couple of hours for myself. This is a strong motivator for me to wake up by 6 AM. 
  2. I usually sip my morning chai slowly while reading a newsletter from my favorite writer. For eg, today being a Tuesday, I ended up reading Mark Manson's newsletter. It arrives in my inbox on Monday evening but I would only read it during my allocated newsletter reading time. No precrastination. 
  3. If I have some topics/writing inspirations/brain waves in the morning hours, I quickly jot them down on Evernote on my laptop but I don't work on them in detail 
  4. I do a 30-40 minute basic Yoga practice in the morning. If the sun shines brightly, I go for a 20 min brisk walk in the terrace after Yoga 
  5. By 8:30AM, I'm done with a relaxed start, done my Yoga practice and got sun exposure
(5) I don't work for any employer at this point in time but I work on areas that I'm passionate about. From 9:30AM-11AM, I call it my laptop time.
  1. I work on either elaborating a blog post idea, wrapping up an almost-complete article or investing time in learning through online courses.  
  2. I use Instagram app on my Windows laptop and answer all DMs/replies to comments from my laptop. Only when I want to post a Post/Story, I install Instagram app and uninstall it immediately. Since I mostly share my lunch plate pics on Instagram, this install/uninstall time is typically between 2-2:30PM.    
(6) In the book "Digital Minimalism", Cal Newport talks about office hours where he consciously allocates time to connect with others. I got so inspired by this idea that I have adopted a similar strategy for myself. I call my 4:30-5:30PM window as my "Connection hours". I make myself available during this time for conversations with family, friends, colleagues from the industry, others in my network etc.
(7) I finish eating my dinner between 6:45-7:15PM. I don't wait for anyone. In my family, everyone eats when they are hungry. Dinner time is a key factor that influences multiple events - when we sleep, the quality of our sleep, when we wake up etc.
(8) I put my phone in "Do Not Disturb" mode around 8:30PM and I avoid using it after this time (on most days).
(9) My reading time (books) is typically between 9-10PM.
 (10) No binge-watching Netflix/Amazon Prime late in the nights, no social media on my phone. This helps me to fall asleep automatically by 10PM.
Time-boxing is super helpful as it gives us control over how we invest/spend our time. It is perfectly okay to watch Netflix, browse social media or Youtube but once we allocate a fixed time for these activities, then we are in control of the time spent. Hope these pointers were helpful. If there are any other questions related to time-boxing, do let me know.

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