<-- home

Timeboxing

I have to write something. Not for the sake of having you, dear reader, reading me. But for the sake of writing. My life changed so much in the last months that I lost the habit. But I will not allow myself to lose the skill, after all writing is thinking.

So, for the sake of having something written I’ll use the process of creating this text to talk about timeboxing. By the way, you know what is timeboxing?

Timeboxing is the practice of limiting your time in a given task before starting executing it.

Timeboxing is a useful skill for many contexts including:

  • limit the time to a reasonable amount for exploring an hypothesis while trying to solve a complex problem
  • as a tool for negotiating with yourself a time to invest in a topic that you do not find that appealing at the moment but you know is important
  • create artificial “deadlines” for things like this post to be produced (constraints are useful)
  • splitting the time of pair programming for you an your peers

It is also a very good tool for exposing how fragmented our time is and how many distractions end up having during the course of doing anything. How hard is to focus 30 minutes in something? Turns out that it is extremely hard. During the production of this text I wandered at least once.

As any other tool, it is not perfect. The not so bright side of timeboxing is that, is used incorrectly, can serve as a tool for self-micro-management with focus on time organization rather than solving real problems. I’ve been there.

Now are 6 moths since I started timeboxing and my feeling is that it was a overall positive change. Actually, I timeboxed this text in 30 minutes. Knowing that it would take only 30 minutes to have something motivated me to get to the chair and create. Many times the timebox is a good way of just starting. You might end up even liking what you are doing (like me right now) and go over your timebox (and that is fine), the point is to get shit done after all.