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Embracing timeboxing to better allocate your time

New Manager
Team processes
Health / Stress / Burn-Out
Productivity

6 December, 2017

Christian shares with us how used a methodology called timeboxing to improve his time allocation and to become more productive.

Problem

As a young manager, it can be difficult to allocate your time properly. There are a lot of things you must do and a lot of things you would like to do. At one point in my career, I needed to structure my schedule more and allocate my time better.

Actions taken

I decided to use a method called "timeboxing", which happened to be very efficient for me, as it made me more productive and freed up time for me to do some other stuff. It comes down to identifying areas you spend time on and when you are interrupted. Once done, you block off "boxes" in your calendar to take care of each area. This is also referred to as calendar blocking. To start, you need data. I recommend documenting what you do and how much time you spend on it every day for a month. Then identify categories (e.g. "proposals", "having one-on-ones", etc.), and get an idea of how much time you spend on each category. You should also identify recurring tasks that you do multiple times a day and things that spread out across the week.As a manager, you should also look at items that would be better handled by one of your employees or support staff. Delegate some items in order to recover some of your valuable time. Once done, you can start organizing your time into blocks. Use your calendar to visually assign blocks to categories of tasks. Here are a few other parameters I take into account:

  • I'm more fresh in the morning, so I block off time for writing proposals in the morning.
  • Block off your lunchtime, commute and recurring personal activities (e.g. time for the gym).
  • Set up office hours at recurring times when people can come to you for requests and questions.
  • To let employees focus during the day, don't schedule one-on-ones in the middle of the day.
  • Set up "quiet times" (from 1 pm to 4 pm at Telmate) when you should not disturb people Once all of this is done, share this with the people working with you, so they know when you are available, when you are not, and when they should book proposal meetings.

Lessons learned

TimeBoxing is about blocking off "boxes" in your calendar for certain categories of tasks. However, the most important part of the method comes before that, when you gather data about your use of your time. I believe that to successfully use the timeboxing method, you must thoroughly analyze your current time allocation.


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