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Definition

timeboxing

Timeboxing is an approach to task and time management that sets rigid constraints on how long a given task or project can take to complete. Extensions are not permitted. 

The term comes from agile software development, in which a time box is defined period during which a task must be accomplished. By establishing and enforcing non-negotiable deadlines, timeboxing is designed to eliminate the potential for procrastination and perfectionism, both of which can lead to late delivery. As a result, timeboxing should also improve productivity. 

Depending on the particular task, a timebox might have a duration of minutes, days or weeks. In any case, the best approach is to get started without delay, have a plan and work in an organized fashion. For timeboxes of longer durations and projects that aren't easily broken down into discrete tasks, a timebox may also be used simply to define how long an individual will work on something at that time. 

How to practice timeboxing:

  1. Decide on the task to be completed or the larger project to work on.
  2. Remove as many potential sources of interruption as possible.
  3. Set a hardware or software timer for a period that should allow you to accomplish what you set out to do.
  4. Focus on the given task until the timer goes off.
  5. Stop when the timer goes off.
  6. Take a break, maybe reward yourself for finishing the timebox.
  7. Repeat as necessary.

See also: pomodoro technique

This was last updated in February 2015

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