Time boxing is a time management technique that comes from Agile Software Development. It is a way of limiting the amount of time (timebox) spent on something in order to prevent excessive effort or unproductive work. It can be used for planing projects where timeboxes are usually measured with days, hours or weeks; for personal tasks where timeboxes are usually measured in minutes; and it can be used for non work-related tasks like hobbies, sports etc.

The essence of this technique is very simple: by consciously being aware of passing time you put yourself in a mindset that you are running out of time. And because you want to see work done as soon as possible you work hard on accomplishing that current task.

Timebox is a fixed period of time that you set, and deciding on it’s size is very critical. If it is too small you won’t be able to get anything done, and if it’s too large you will not have pressure to work until timebox end.

When you finish one timebox of work, you take a little rest and start another one. The ability to plan and predict time for a specific task will come as your gather more experience working on this technique.

Main benefits from this technique are:

  • focus on doing most important things first
  • stop being perfectionist when working on open ended tasks
  • increase motivation
  • stop procrastination
  • create a working rhythm

Sharks have to keep swimming, or they die. Software projects are like sharks in that respect; you need to keep moving with the best information you have available at the time.

Quote is from the “Practices Of An Agile Developer Working In The Real World” book. You can find more tips on time boxing in this article. In the next blog post on productivity I will write about Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management method that uses the time boxing technique.