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Timeboxing - For your meetings

Meetings often veer far from course. You plan for a discussion about the next year's budget and the discussion moves from that to the disappointing monthly sales figures to the planning of a co-workers wedding. Keeping people on track can be difficult, Timeboxing will help by dedicating a specific amount of time to do a job or have a meeting. Instead of conducting a meeting that will be over when all the agenda items are handled, you conduct a meeting that specifies a particular end time.

Using timeboxing for meetings can work in several ways:

  • You can time box certain elements of the meeting (ie. "We will spend 5 minutes discussing sales reports").
  • You can use timeboxing to control certain kinds of meetings. If you are holding a conference, for example, in which meetings are components, the individual meetings can be held to a particular, pre-set time limit.
  • Everyone at a meeting can get a fair share of the meeting "floor". That is, the person who might otherwise dominate the discussion must be cognizant of the need to share the floor with others so the meeting can progress as planned. (You can even use timeboxing to dedicate time to each person's issues and comments.)

There are many advantages to using this method for meetings. Aside from the obvious advantage - meetings might be shorter and more effective -- there are many other advantages. These include:

  • You can be sure that the meeting will stay on the agenda and only last for the specified time.
  • You ensure that even the more prolific talkers in the group are quieted while those in attendance work to keep the meeting on schedule.
  • You help to create an environment where even the most reticent participants can feel as if there's a way for them to be involved in the meeting.
  • You control the pace of the meeting. With a timer ticking, everyone learns to stay on task, focus on the job at hand and get it done.
  • If it's true that most decisions are actually made within the first 15 minutes of a meeting, why waste time? Using timeboxing, you can ensure that your time is used effectively to deal with what needs to be dealt with. Then you can move on.

Timeboxing - For your personal productivity

For those of us who procrastinate, or have trouble focusing on a task, or just need help compartmentalizing jobs, time boxing is a good technique to consider.

Time boxing is the process of dedicating a specific amount of time to do a job. Instead of giving yourself the open-ended deadline of "work until the job is done," you work in a dedicated fashion for 15 or 30 minutes. When the time is up, you either mark your job as done, or needing more attention and another block of time.

There are many advantages to time boxing. These include:

  • Focus - So many of us struggle with focus. We lose focus, we get interrupted, and we make lists and plan out our weekends instead of work. All this lost focus when we should be working. The great advantage of time boxing is you learn how to focus your attention on the job at hand for the specified period of time. If this is a challenge, you can start small (say, 10 minutes of focused work) and work up to 30 minutes blocks of time or whatever will work for you. Once you gain the focus, you find that your productivity increases ten-fold.
  • Increased productivity - When you are working on an open-ended job, using the time boxing concept will increase your productivity in ways you never imagined. When you set a timer and work diligently and in a focused manner on only the task you have identified, you work smarter and harder, and you get more done.
  • Realization of time spent - When you use time blocking to get a job done, you realize how much time you might normally waste when working. If you set a timer for 5 minutes, and work hard for only those 5 minutes, you might get the same amount of work done that you might previously have done in 20 minutes.
  • Time available - Time boxing makes you consciously aware of something you previously weren't consciously aware of - how much time you can give to a particular project. Once you get comfortable with the concept, you realize you have more time than you thought. You get more done. And that brings us back to the point - your productivity increases.

Using time boxing can help workers focus more on the job at hand, get more done and ultimately feel more accomplished at what they are doing.

Agile Hardware has developed the Timebox Timer to help you with your Timeboxing