Ever tried timeboxing? It’s a time-management technique that requires setting a goal to complete a specific task within a set timeframe. At the end of the set time, you evaluate your progress. Timeboxing works for practically anything, from individual tasks to team tasks to meetings.

A key tip when timeboxing, according to work management expert Julia Martins, is to know whether you are setting a hard or soft timebox. A hard timebox is when you must stop an activity when the time is up, even if it’s not complete. A soft timebox, on the other hand, is more flexible and doesn’t require an immediate stop at the designated time.

In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we outline Martins’ guidance on how to incorporate timeboxing into your team’s workflow.

Step 1: Identify tasks. Think about the items on your to-do list. What could benefit from a focused time limit? Maybe it’s responding to emails or making cold calls. Timebox these tasks with a set limit on how much time you will dedicate to them. Martins says this simple hack helps contain tasks that might otherwise take much longer.

Step 2: Set specific goals. The next step, according to Martins, is to define what you want to achieve within the timebox. For example, maybe you don’t want to spend as much time writing emails. You could set a goal to draft three email responses in 30 minutes.

Step 3: Allocate time. Each task should have a set time duration. Whether you set a timer for 30 minutes, 60 minutes or longer, Martins says you should think of it as a strict limit. You’ll only work on the task for the amount of time you have dedicated to it. 

Step 4: Work without interruptions. When timeboxing, make sure you’re fully focused on the task at hand. Turn off your phone and computer. If your office tends to be noisy, get some noise-cancelling headphones. Martins recommends arranging your workspace for comfort by making sure you have a comfortable chair and plenty of light.

Step 5: Review, adjust and take a break. At the end of the set time, look back on what you accomplished. Did you get those three email drafts written in 30 minutes? If not, adjust your approach the next time. Martins suggests rewarding yourself with a short break after a timebox, especially if you’re working on a more complex task.

Whether you try timeboxing for your own productivity or to keep your team aligned during meetings, it can be a useful way to improve your focus and use your time more effectively.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Julia Martins is a work management expert who contributes to the Asana blog.