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Time boxing

We immensely appreciate the importance of time boxed meetings at work. Keep-it-short is a growing trend, for we have experienced, one way or another the Parkinson’s Law that says ‘Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’. Time boxing is a powerful concept when it comes to improving productivity, but it’s also handy when it comes to getting tricky and sticky stuff done quickly outside of work.

When picking up a task that doesn’t seem very appealing, we usually tend to put off endlessly. This time try time boxing to get going. You can get yourself to start off and stick with the task for 30 mins or 10 mins or even 5 mins, just set the timer on your phone.Often times this is enough to give you great start. And importantly picking up a task, any task, and doing it for just 5 mins doesn’t seem daunting at all, even during the most lackadaisical days.There are advantages to this.

Firstly, you break the ice, and chances are you feel like continuing on to finish the task. Or, you may stick to the 5 min timer and try the same Time Box trick again, getting the job done bite-size each time. Either way you’re sailing ahead.

Secondly you remove any perceived roadblocks around the work.Let’s say it’s the tax time and the gnawing task at hand is gathering papers, receipts, documents etc. We tend to put it off for the weekend, then the next weekend and so on, each time convincing ourselves that there's more urgent (or fun) matters to attend to. However, picking up the job of getting ready to file returns, when we just give it 10 mins and use it if only to list out all the papers you need to gather, we are still making a good start.

Time & productivity management experts often spell out that the basic ingredient for releasing a mental block is often knowing what your immediate next step is. Sounds simple? Give it a try. Think about one task that is nagging you, taking up mental space in the background. Got it? Good,now set aside even 2 mins to figure out what immediate next step you could take towards a closure on the task. When you get clarity on this next action, it removes a mental block and that’s enough to motivate you to get going!

In his book ‘The 4 hour workweek’, author Tim Ferriss recommends setting ridiculously low time segments for getting everyday mundane stuff done. This improves both efficiency and focus. Unless its professional work demanding careful precision or something you enjoy doing like a hobby, daily activities like doing the laundry, picking up groceries can easily be time boxed and that can make it actually fun ! You can even race against yourself each time setting a new record, home vacuuming in under 10 mins anyone? So next time you set out to clean out the closets, sort through paper clutter start off by reaching for your timer.