My weekly time-boxing process

Back in February, I wrote in a newsletter how I had started time-boxing my schedule again.

Well, it’s now September, and that practice is still going strong.

I recently wrote a Twitter thread on three of the benefits of time-boxing. Today, I wanted to focus on how I time-box my schedule each week.

1. I decide on my priority for the week.

This priority is an active project.

It’s not the only thing I’ll work on during the week, but it does help provide some focus and constraints.

2. I make a list of everything I want to get done this week.

My to-do list has a lot of stuff on it. It has more stuff than I can get done in a week.

So I try and capture all the urgent and important tasks that I’m going to try and make time for this week.

Usually, not everything that makes it onto this list ends up on my schedule. But this list does help funnel my attention down as I move through this process.

3. I account for all the pre-existing events in my personal and work calendars.

This is just taking inventory of time that has already been set aside.

Usually, this is a combination of recurring (e.g. volleyball, stand-ups) and non-recurring (e.g. one-off coaching calls) events.

4. I schedule my personal time.

I do this first as an act of self-care.

This includes things like scheduling time to eat, hang out with friends, or meditate.

How much time I allocate for this varies each week depending on my energy levels.

5. I schedule half-an-hour of buffer time each day.

Life happens.

This buffer time provides some space for unexpected tasks, conversations, and other shenanigans.

This way, I can still address some of life’s surprises without derailing my time-boxed schedule.

6. I schedule the tasks from the list I made in step 2.

I start by time-boxing the most important and urgent tasks from my list. Often, these tasks are related to my one priority for the week.

Then, I start time-boxing the next most important and urgent tasks.

Rinse and repeat.

As I mentioned above, I don’t usually end up scheduling everything on my list. And that’s okay.

Maybe next week they will be important or urgent enough to make it onto my schedule.

Or maybe I eventually just decide they weren’t worth doing, so I remove them from my to-do list.

This process takes me less than 1 hour each week.

I don’t spend too much time trying to make the perfect decision.

There is no perfect decision.

If I make a decision that doesn’t have a good result (e.g. one task got scheduled instead of another, a task got scheduled for too short of a time-box), I take those learnings and apply them next week.

An addendum:

I recently started setting alarms corresponding to my time-boxed schedule as part of my evening routine.

I had found that I was frequently not following my time-boxed schedule.

I’d get lost in the task at hand, and not realize how quickly time was going by.

Since I’ve started setting an alarm to notify me that my next time-box was coming up, I’ve been adhering to my schedule much better now!

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