Is It Time To TimeBox Bulls**t?

Kicking off some short thoughts again that may — or may not — turn into longer form pieces that appear on the blog.

I published a post on Friday that garnered a lot of views — including over 500 comments over on Y Combinator

It seems a lot of the conversation around Remote Work V Office isn’t actually about the physical location or tools but rather the nature of work itself — particularly the lack of time to focus on value added deep work.

Time for this is getting squeezed by the soul crushing ‘work about work’ that’s designed to fill other people’s calendars and make everyone else frantically busy solving the least important problems of our time. Putting it simply, the bullsh*t that gets in the way of our real jobs, and if left uncontrolled can become our jobs.

I came across a post from Ben Kuhn in which he writes that perhaps we could tame it by timeboxing it.

I quote from the piece:

Even if I have only one major project that other people depend on, I somehow always end up with a bunch of minor chores to do — responding to emails, deflecting secondary obligations, buying household necessities, powdering my nose, filing expense reports, etc.

For these, I employ a “bullshit timebox” — a one-hour period a few times a week when I do all the things life is too short for. During the remaining 165 hours per week, I do my resolute best not to think about any of the bullshit, no matter how much people bug me about whether a 1.5” tungsten cube is really a legitimate work expense.

In order for bullshit not to distract me for the rest of the week, I try to minimize my number of “open loops” — projects or processes that I’ve started but not completed. Much like how I single-task on programming until it’s done, I’ll make phone calls instead of email threads, or, God forbid, texts or instant messaging. It took a while for me to train my friends not to instant message me, but by now they remember my rants about how distracting it is, practically word-for-word.

A good tip and one I’m trying out for a couple of weeks.

Hope no-one gets offended by my experimental auto message 😉



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Paul Taylor

Innovation Coach and Co-Founder of @BromfordLab. Follow for social innovation and customer experience.