Career Trends: The Time Management Technique that can Work for Anyone

5 min read

Edition: January 27th, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

Timeboxing encourages you to focus on time instead of tasks. (Image Source:
  • Excerpts from article by Nir Eyal, published on

Timeboxing is a method that encourages you to focus on time instead of tasks. You allocate a certain number of hours or days, called a “timebox,” to each activity. Timeboxing is the most powerful time management technique out there.

But there are always defeatists who are sure that time-boxing isn’t for them for one reason or another. Needless to say, that kind of thinking is not helpful. Finding the exceptions to a well-studied technique shouldn’t be the rule.

Rather than searching for excuses why it won’t work, we should try to find ways to make it work.

To do that, we have to start by asking the right questions. Instead of looking for reasons why, “This won’t this suit me?” try asking, “How can I adapt this to my life?”

Here are some ways to overcome the resistance to putting time-boxing into practice and get started right away-

1. Start Small

Adopt this mindset shift: Any progress, even incremental, is progress.

  • Many people are overwhelmed by timeboxing because they can’t imagine planning their day with their unpredictable schedule.
  • But timeboxing doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can take a few small steps each day.
  • First, separate your work into two buckets-
    1. Reactive work: Being on call and reacting to others’ needs via calls, texts, emails, etc.
    2. Reflective work: Tasks we can only do without distraction like planning, strategising, writing, thinking, etc.
  • To begin timeboxing, allocate time for reflective work.
  • Even blocking off 15 minutes a day for reflective work is a great start. The rest can be reactive work based on what your job requires.
  • Let others know that you are in-distractable during that blocked-off time.
  • That way your colleagues know they shouldn’t approach you, schedule meetings, or expect email responses from you then.
  • You could also plan your reflective work time before or after your hectic day begins.
  • If you don’t make time for reflective work, you’ll find yourself running real fast, in the wrong direction. Make the time and keep it sacred.
  • Once you experience the benefits of having this uninterrupted time for reflective work, you’ll want more of it.
  • Proving to yourself that you are, in fact, able to focus without distraction gives you the evidence you need to start allocating more time for living the life you want.

2. Overcome Your Fear of Timeboxing

  • For most people, it’s not that timeboxing doesn’t work for them — it’s that they’re scared of it.
  • They let people push them into doing things they didn’t intend to do.
  • By letting others dictate what they do, they don’t have to think about how to spend their time. They can just react.
  • Low performers let their entire day be gobbled up by reactive work and make no time for reflective work.
  • Planning reflective work takes effort. It involves thinking about your priorities and values, and most importantly, making time for them in your calendar.
  • Rather than putting in that bit of effort to make time for reflective work, low performers spend all day at the whim of emails and text messages, instead of making time to think.
  • It’s important we realise that many times our reasoning is just the excuse our brains tell us to help us avoid the difficult work we don’t really want to do.
  • It’s not that someone actually needs us all the time, it’s that we fear they do. But that fear is just a feeling. It’s not always true.
  • Making at least some time in your day for reflective work, and leaving the rest of the day open for reactive work, will give you the peace of mind to keep moving forward.

3. Timebox Fun

Who said that timeboxing had to be about work alone?

  • The beauty of timeboxing is that it can be used in any area of your life. In fact, timeboxing fun activities has several benefits.
  • Timeboxing leisure puts our minds at ease knowing that time for rest and recharging is coming soon.
  • We don’t need to think about whether we’ll have time to check social media or watch Netflix when we know we already have it scheduled in our calendar.
  • Timeboxing also eliminates the guilt we often feel while relaxing and gives us the freedom to be wholly in the moment.
  • You’ll also take additional pleasure knowing that you’re following through on exactly what you said you would do.
  • When you timebox fun, you’ll see what true leisure feels like, unencumbered by the nagging feeling that you should be doing something else.
  • Because that time is plotted in your calendar, anything else becomes a distraction.
  • By timeboxing your free time, you’ll build the muscle for using timeboxing in all domains of your life.
  • You’ll soon find timeboxing isn’t something you feel you have to do, but rather a practice you want to do.


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(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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