Time Management Part 1: The Art of Time Boxing
Ever feel like you have five billion tasks you need to get done and only 24 hours to do them? One of the biggest internal struggles for high achievers and go-getters is juggling ideas and innovation that pull you in 360 different directions against sitting down and focusing on a single task for a designated period of time.
My solution?...adopt the practice of Time Boxing. While there are those who thrive off of chaos and the unpredictable, there are numerous studies that show the benefit of having a designated daily routine.
You're sitting down to finish a work assignment but as you do, you realize you have to return an email to a professor, you need to finish your component of the group presentation then practice said presentation, you have to arrange time to have a coffee chat with a recruiter for the job you want, you need to finish and submit that application for a merit scholarship. Oh! And on top of these you need to go grocery shopping, clean your dorm, and do your laundry.
Now you can't fully concentrate on this important work assignment due tomorrow because there are about 15 other tasks you need to finish today!
You're sitting down to finish a work assignment. You've estimated and allotted 3 hours in your afternoon to complete it. As you settle into your desk, you turn off all your social notifications and get to work. Before you know it, your timer buzzes and your well-planned out calender reminds you that you have a one-on-one with your professor in 15 minutes. After that you already know you have a group presentation practice session scheduled at your college library.
Scenario 2 demonstrates the power of creating an effective calendar and time management system so that we can maximize our efficient thinking abilities. It gives you the freedom and ease of focusing on one project rather than using stress and impatience to just tick of a to-do list.
So here are my tips for a Time Boxing Strategy
- Personal Events
- Club/organization(s) - as many as needed
- Green - classes
- Blue - personal
- yellow - important/priorities
- orange - opportunities
- gray - office hours or lesser-tier priorities
- purples and pinks - clubs/organizations
- For example, you know you're going out to dinner with friends at 5. That means from 3pm to 4:30pm it is hour homework study session. You've given yourself 30 minutes to get ready and take and walk to the restaurant.
- Start with a consistent title of the event. (i.e. class title - details; club name - activity)
- Schedule your every-day must-dos (class, work, meetings) that block out a significant portion of your day
- Then move onto your extracurriculars which also require designated time slots but can be more flexible in adjusting scheduling
- Fill in big empty sections with your priorities where you need to focus and have ample allotted time
- Schedule your breaks and personal time. We can't always be on overdrive. Everybody needs a break to have work-life balance.
- 6am - 7:30am: Workout - Not only is it my preferred time to move, it also keeps me accountable knowing that I have a workout in the morning and can feel accomplished and ready to kickstart my day after a good sweaty session
- 2pm-4pm: Piano - I have classes that vary in end times but at least I know between these two hours, I have piano practice and can reserve a room.
- 6pm and onward: Clubs and Organization
- You can put D-3, D-2, D-1 to indicate days till a certain event
- If an event is not set in time yet, place it in the all-day events to remind yourself to follow-up with the organizer for more details
- Reminders of tasks you should have done or things to have prepared
- meeting invite information including the link, meeting code, and password
- name of attendees you should know names of
- file links if online
- Being Proactive is the Key to Being Productive