How many items on your to-do list do you check off each day? Do you spend weeks dragging one task from one list to the next, as you never seem to find the time to complete it? Shifting your to-do list into calendar form and scheduling these required tasks into your days and weeks can help shrink that list and get things done.
But how exactly can this be done? Here’s what you need to know about timeboxing- what it is, how it can be used, the benefits, and the various timeboxing apps that are currently available on the market.
What is Timeboxing?
Timeboxing is a time management method whereby a person allocates a certain amount of time in the day for a specific activity. These planned chunks of time are called timeboxes, which split up the hours in the week for various tasks and activities.
Once the time allotment is reached, the individual stops the chosen task to determine if it is completed or needs another scheduled timebox or boxes. Proactively deciding how much time each task is going to take ensures you do not go over the scheduled timeline.
Many project management professionals use timeboxing to help them complete tasks and set a maximum allowance of time for any one activity. In scrum project management, a timebox is also known as a sprint, where team members aim to produce deliverables in times increments. Timeboxing or sprint planning can be used for both personal and professional time management.
An example of timeboxing is when a manager plans a team meeting for a specific time of day in which all employees must be in attendance. The manager has blocked off a chunk of time to be used for the meeting to ensure everyone’s discussion points are covered without taking up too much time in the team’s schedule.
High school class timetables are similar to timeboxing in this instance. Students must be in their designated classrooms every hour, with a slot for each class and lunch. Just like these school timetables, professionals can also create schedules like this, that adhere to the strict time frame for each task, even scheduling when to take a break.
Timeboxing vs. Time blocking
Where timeboxing focuses on setting limits on tasks that might otherwise take too long to finish, time blocking ensures that there are enough hours in the day to get all required tasks completed. A time block is similar to a time box, except that individuals can sprinkle these blocks of time throughout their scheduled calendar, whereas timeboxes make up the entirety of a worker’s schedule.
What Are the Benefits of Timeboxing?
There are many advantages of using this time management technique to help managers and employees improve their planning and productivity. Taking control of the hours in your days and weeks and setting time frames for tasks can result in:
- Increased Productivity: Knowing when and what you need to tackle each day means spending less time on deciding and prioritizing tasks.
- Less Procrastination: Timeboxing forces you to start a task instead of postponing or rescheduling it. Sometimes the hardest part of an activity is starting it. By scheduling the desired task into the calendar’s timeboxes, it forces you to commit and complete.
- Improved Focus: Knowing you have to commit your mind to one goal at a time, it can help you focus on the objectives at hand. Scheduling various functions into the timeboxes per day also varies the topic and gives your brain a break in one area while it focuses on another type of task.
- Setting Limits and Restrictions: Setting a deadline too far in the future can expand task times when they don’t necessarily need that long to complete. Setting time constraints and limits using timeboxes forces individuals to reach their goals in the time specified without overdoing it.
- Stopping Perfectionism: Perfectionists can easily spend too much time on any one task in order to perfect it. By setting time limits, you’re forced to complete the set objectives without overthinking them.
- Improved Time Forecasting: Continuously using timeboxing can help improve task scheduling for the future. Once you start completing tasks in your timebox calendar, you can begin projecting timeframes for future jobs and projects of all staff members.
How Businesses Can Use this Time Management Technique
Managers can create employee schedules using timeboxes for required tasks and set a timer and push notifications for the various timeframes, so everyone knows what needs to be done, when. Setting these time limits and push notifications can help employees treat timeboxing as a scheduled calendar, with each timebox being a meeting they cannot miss or reschedule for a later date.
Industries and businesses of all kinds can use timeboxing to help them restrict time allotments for tasks and ensure employee time is spent wisely. Cutting up work hours into timeboxes and identifying what tasks must be completed in each time frame by team member creates limits and improves efficiency and focus.
Timeboxing can be used within many industries and business types. Whether in-house employees or remote workers, owners, managers, and employees can benefit from the use of timeboxing. The importance of time management for managers is immense, as they must ensure the scheduling of not only their tasks, but their employees and teams as well.
Time management for remote teams is just as important, if not more so, for in-house workers. Managers and employees can choose to timebox using a manual and paper method or technology to help them plan and allocate their hours effectively.
Feel free to use this downloadable template to help you tailor your own timeboxing schedule to your professional or personal needs. Colour coding and defining tasks per timebox can help to create a visually effective schedule that can be altered to suit your ongoing tasks and responsibilities.
Best Timeboxing Apps and Time Management Software
If the manual method of timeboxing doesn’t feel comfortable or the most intuitive to use, individuals can also look to computer and smartphone applications and software to help them with this time management technique. If using time tracking and timeboxing apps, it’s best to find one that will work with your business’s other software and applications, such as accounting software like QuickBooks Online.
Compatible time tracking software and timeboxing apps with QuickBooks Online:
- QuickBooks Time
- Time Tracker
QuickBooks Time offers businesses and managers a platform for employee scheduling and time tracking to ensure all tasks and projects are completed on time and within the limits set. Sync your time tracking data with QuickBooks to make the payroll process easier than ever. And with the GPS and geofencing feature, you can track employees when they enter and exit a site to ensure accurate work hours and pay for your workforce.
Under the same Intuit family, this app is easily integrated with all QuickBooks software to provide businesses with a comprehensive set of tools. Access all your financial, customer, and employee data in one place.
BigTime was made for both small and large companies in mind, providing a stress-free way to track employee time and scheduling needs while offering scalability for internal processes and more. This agile software development offers real-time data collection to help businesses improve team management and avoid over or under-scheduling for ongoing projects.
Integrate Big Time with QuickBooks Online to import and export data between the software for seamless interactions. Bill your clients easier and pay your employees quicker with the BigTime time tracking app.
The Time Tracker application by eBility helps businesses to reduce their administrative tasks and eliminate time theft with automatic time tracking of employees no matter where they are working. Research and gain insight into labour costs, project tasks, employee hours, and client billing for greater efficiency going forward.
Sync Time Tracker and your QuickBooks account to make the billing process easier for all parties involved. With a five-star support team accessible at any time, Time Tracker can help you with any issues or difficulties you may be having with the software.
Clockodo offers users an easy-to-use and intuitive interface, making it a breeze for employees to implement this software into their daily routine. Track the working time and tasks of employees to efficiently manage projects. Take that data and use the reporting feature to pinpoint and improve current workflow issues, as well as forecast timing requirements for the future.
The employee time data collected through Clockodo can easily be transferred to QuickBooks Online for a seamless billing and payroll processing experience.
Timeboxing is a very useful tool when applied correctly. If your business can benefit from this time management strategy, it can also benefit from quality time tracking software.
Start using software like QuickBooks Time to help you implement the perfect employee schedules within your business today!