Timeboxing: Change the Way you Waste Time

In a previous post, I talked about time management, and promised you some tools to help battle time wastage. It’s an on-going struggle, but this is what’s working for me right now.

In order to manage the commitment I’ve made myself to write (and finish what I write), plus my business & consulting, as well as family and other duties, I need to schedule them all. Without scheduling not only will things not get done, but since my memory basically looks like this –

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Photo Credit: vrogy via Compfight cc

– I won’t even remember what didn’t get done. This has resulted in me waking up in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat from some nightmare about walking into class both late and naked.

cabbage patch
I Googled “voodoo doll dreadlocks” and this is what I got

Realization will strike my addled mind that I forgot to do something and someone is probably right then sending me an angry email, unfriending me on Facebook and poking their freshly made L. Penelope voodoo doll.

To avoid this kind of disruption to my evenings, I started scheduling my day. I’ve always been a fan of lists and schedules (I’m INTJ after all), but it wasn’t until I read this article on timeboxing that I realized not only could I make lists of what needed to be done and by when, I could actually plan the time needed to do it.

I use the template that I’ve attached below to plan my time. Carving out time to write just about every day only works if I’m efficient about everything else. In addition to my online/phone/iPad calendar (for which I’m using the wonderful Sunrise app since the unfortunate iOS 7 Calendar updates ruined that entire experience for me), I rely on good old fashioned paper to get a high level view of what’s going on each week.

I plan what to work on when, blocking off time for the most important activities, or the ones with the nearest deadlines. This works.

On Sunday or Monday I print it out the template with what I already know is happening filled in. As the week goes on and I schedule meetings or have new deliverables crop up, I fill them in. I plan what to work on when, blocking off time for the most important activities, or the ones with the nearest deadlines. This works.

I also plan when and how long to scan Facebook, post to Twitter, fall down the rabbit hole that is Kboards and catch up on the blogs I like to follow. I set a timer to make sure I stop when I’m supposed to. This is what it sounds like.

My template was modified from the one I found here at Defrump Me. I also use the font Droid Sans because it looks cool and I’m superficial that way.

Download the template: .XLS.PDF

How to Use:

sampleWeeklyPlanner
Click to enlarge

In the Excel version, copy the “Template” sheet to make a new one for your week. Change the date in the “Week of” slot to the Monday of your current week. I use the “Pale Blue” color in Excel as the background for my events, with the color “Plum” for the text.

The first line for each day, the one with the big blue * next to it is the one task that I must get done that day, come hell or high water. You should have no more than three. If you have eight tasks you must get done that day, you’re in serious trouble. More than that and you will almost definitely fail. That’s not to say that you can’t actually do more than three things a day, but you need to prioritize and people tend to overestimate how much they can get done within a period of time. Set yourself up for success. Limit your “must do” items to three or fewer.

The pink and green lines at the bottom of each day are for me to plan my meals. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks each have a line. The ‘P’ lines are for Meal Planning. Like, if I know I need to be on-site with a client the next day and have to bring my lunch, I should cook it the night before. This helps me especially when I’m eating in a more Paleo manner and having dinner-type foods for breakfast (a whole nother post), I want to plan and cook my meals the day before.

So that’s it in a nutshell. Kind of like AA, it only works if you work it. The best time management system is only as good as the manager. Some days I’m lazy and don’t look at it, some days I follow it religiously. It should go without saying that those days are the more productive of the two 🙂

So do you have any awesome time management tips? I’d love to hear them! I’m always refining the process, so share in the comments. Sharing is caring!