Hack your commute: Timebox your tasks

‘Timeboxing’ is a common practice in project management but it can also be useful for marketers looking for new ways of completing tasks beyond the traditional to-do list.

Productivity techniques may be 10 a penny, but according to educational technology company Filtered.com, which has published a list of ‘The Definitive 100 Most Useful Productivity Tips’, the best of them all is ‘timeboxing’. Put simply, the aim is to allocate a set number of minutes or hours to a task, then schedule it into the calendar and use that time – and only that time – to complete it.

There are a number of reasons this approach could be more effective than just writing out to-do lists. Perhaps the most important is that a simple list doesn’t give you much information about how long a task is expected to take, what resources it requires or what priority it holds for you or your organisation.

The temptation, therefore, is to focus first on the tasks that can be completed quickly and easily, simply to reduce the number of outstanding items. This isn’t always the best outcome or most efficient use of time.

Using timeboxing within your calendar means it’s clear from the outset when one task will be completed relative to another, and it takes into account other people’s requirements when you set your priorities. As Filtered.com CEO Marc Zao Sanders wrote in the Harvard Business Review: “If you know that a promotional video has to go live on a Tuesday and that the production team needs 72 hours to work on your copy edits, then you know when to place the timebox. In fact, you know where to place the timebox: it’s visual, intuitive, obvious.”

Timeboxing is a common practice in project management, particularly within the ‘agile’ methodology. Here, it is used particularly as a way to define and place a time constraint on a process or development stage that might otherwise be open-ended. Whether you’re using it for a team or yourself, it therefore requires making decisions in advance about potential trade-offs in the quality or scope of what can be achieved.

You’ll need to think carefully about whether it’s the right approach for the kinds of tasks you’re working on. It’s perhaps most useful when it’s more important to achieve any level of progress than to fully complete or perfect a project. And, of course, it has to be worth investing the time in planning how to timebox your tasks in the first place.

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here