Do you ever finally get time to work but feel stuck knowing that you only have 30 minutes to get things done…and don’t know where to start? Maybe your to do list is so long you have no idea how you are going to manage it all.
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Time boxing is actually one of the biggest and most effective tools for getting things done through time management and “putting on blinders”.
What are the Benefits of Time Boxing?
Sure, we can schedule out our days until we are blue in the face and still not get everything done.
Now, time boxing doesn’t guarantee you will get everything done, but using this method allows you to have a better chance of success by ensuring you:
- Are more focused
- Are time conscious
- Have more motivation
- Deliver at least incremental results (meaning you get at least part of something done)
- End “shiny syndrome” (or “analysis paralysis”)
- Avoid regret at how your time is spent
- Prioritize more effectively
Sounds great, right?
What Is Time Boxing?
Time boxing is taking a task and placing a time limit on how long you can work on it. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to complete the task (though in many cases that’s the goal). Time boxing can also be segmenting a larger project into pieces and making incremental progress toward completing a larger goal.
For example, every day you go on Pinterest and manually pin 20 images. Great! How long does that take? 5 minutes? 20 minutes? Do you spend too much time looking for the “perfect” pins? Set a limit of 10 minutes to complete the task.
How about when you write a blog post – how long does that generally take you for a 750 word opinion post (meaning it’s more about sharing an experience, emotion or opinion rather than a “how-to” or “help”/”reference” guide)? An hour to research and write copy (the words/paragraphs)? 10 minutes for marketing images (Pinterest, etc)? 10 minutes to write all the language for the metadesription and social sharing? Rather than group these into an 80 minute time-slot, break it up into pieces with a set amount of time to complete part or in whole (depending on the task).
By breaking up larger tasks, you can feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of each time frame and know you have made progress toward your goal.
This method can help you:
- Meet more deadline without all the fear and anxiety (well at least lessen your fear, lol, we have to be flexible with kids)
- Show results right away on a problem or large task
- Build momentum and pride in yourself
Just like it somehow feels amazing to literally check a box when a task is completed, time boxing puts you in “the zone” – an ultimate state where you are focused and motivated.
The glory of time boxing is the ability to change your estimate based on YOUR REALITY. It may take some people an hour to do an opinion post, but maybe with two young kids at home it may take you longer. That’s ok!
Difference Between Time Boxing and Time Blocking
Another one that is similar to Time Boxes it Time Blocking. This method is more about segmenting your day into segments (rather than down into the fine details of tasks).
Take you days throughout the week and plan out what you will do each day based on your schedule. Start with time restricted tasks like doctor appointments, picking up your kids, due dates, and anything that occurs at a specific time. Then, fill the remainder with other blocks like cleaning, running errands, and, of course, working on your blog!
Think of Time Blocks like buckets that contain your Time Boxes.
Time Boxing As A Mom
While time boxing is about setting a limit on your time for a task, moms who try to time box while watching their kids WILL be interrupted. Although this goes against the entire method, it’s unavoidable.
For us moms, time boxing is actually BOUNDARY MANAGEMENT.
You have to set boundaries on yourself (which is the time frame you allow yourself) AND for your kids.
How To Apply Time Boxing
The first thing you can do is list out all of your common tasks you do on a daily or weekly basis (and beyond). Then, estimate from memory how long you think that task takes you.
Then, the next time you do one of the tasks, time yourself against your estimate. Do your best to stay within the time frame you estimated. Finish the task faster? Lower the time estimate. Finish the task slower? Add a little time to your estimate (but trying to still push yourself to get the task done faster).
Like I mentioned earlier, if you have kids around you may need to bump up your time a little to allow flexibility. But, if you are alone and can focus 100% of your time, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS METHOD NOW!
With the precious little time we all have to work (for the most part), focus and determination are what’s going to get us through.
Have you ever come across a course that has a countdown timer for a good deal?
“Just 1 hour 34 minutes left before this discount is gone!!”
What did that make you feel?
You were suddenly hyper-focused and actually reading everything about that course, right? Well, not everyone does, especially if you see them every day. But, the URGENCY is what motivates you. It’s what gets people to buy more stuff. It’s what pushes people to get things done.
So when you have a countdown timer on your task (time box), you are given URGENCY to finish fast (though speed isn’t always the goal, just the focus – quality over quantity in most things!). This should not take the place of doing things WELL, merely to motivate you to move forward and not continually second guess or spin your wheels about everything.
Blogging Time Boxes: Activity
Let’s do an activity:
Now to start getting you into the mindset of time boxing, read through this section then you will set a 15 minute timer (use your smartphone!) to keep you focused and motivated!
What I want for you to do now is write down everything you currently do on your blog regularly. Try to time box every one of them and define how often you do the task.
Although you will eventually get to the nitty gritty of what you will post about every week, right now I want you just focus on the basics of your schedule.
Also make sure to list time to plan your weeks! This may not be something you currently do, but a part of maintaining time boxing is to actually create and prioritize those time boxes.
Many bloggers do this on Sundays when they do all of their planning for the week (including meal planning, etc).
Your regular tasks on the list may include:
- Blog posts (the time will depend on the type of post you do and whether or not you are batching)
- Social media updates (think of repurposing content!)
- Share threads (usually on Facebook)
- Email blasts
- Responding to blog post comments
- Responding to social media comments or questions
- Checking email
- Promoting products
- Creating new content upgrades (opt ins)
- Updating plugins
- Researching blogging or social media strategies
- Creating new products (free or paid)
- SEO old blog posts (or updating in any way)
- Adding additional Pinterest images to old posts
- Updating opt in forms (if you have a new opt in or offer)
- Adding promotions for your own products
- Creating sales funnels for paid products (if applicable)
- Managing a Facebook group (if applicable)
- Commenting and interacting on other blogs
- Competitor research
- Brainstorming blog post topics
- Filling your social scheduler queue (Tailwind, Buffer, etc)
There are a ton more, but these at least should help prompt your memory.
Set a 15 minute timer…and GO!
Add Time Estimates To Your Blogging Time Boxes
Now that you have all your tasks outlined, go through and take a “first guess” at how long you think each takes you. Be realistic but push yourself.
See if you can do this in under 8 minutes!
Analyze Your Time Boxes
When you are done with your time boxes, review it and look for any ways you may be working on something “because it’s what you were told to do”.
I challenge you to look at what has been working for YOU. If you feel like nothing is working, try changing your methods. Maybe you’re not getting much traffic from Facebook but spend lots of your precious time trying to grow your following. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is Facebook providing anything for your priorities?
- Does Facebook represent a goal you have?
- What have you tried? Did it actually work?
- Have you researched other ways to grow your following? Have you tried them?
- How long have you been trying without any success? Are there other social outlets that are doing better? Should you shift your focus away from Facebook entirely?
Be honest with yourself. Above all else, don’t get stuck in thinking you have to do something because “that’s what everyone else is doing”. Every blog, every niche, every person has differences in how they find success. Find YOURS.
Prioritizing Your Time Boxes
The last and likely the most important thing you can do for yourself is to now go through your time boxes and highight any that are the highest priority.
Don’t know how to do that?
Think about what your goals are for your blog. Which tasks are going to propel you toward those goals?
It’s all about forward momentum!
5 minute timer and go!
Using Your Time Boxes
Now that you have a bunch of time boxes for your blogging tasks, when you know you will have time to work (whether that be 15 minutes or several hours), reference your list. Look for what you can fit in within the timeframe that have the highest priority.
And USE YOUR TIMER!
It will take some getting used to. And some people prefer to not track all the way down into 5 minute tasks. But I highly suggest that you try it out and find what works for YOU that will keep you motivated and focus on your priority tasks.
Go over on time? Was it because you were distracted or do you need more time? Modify your times as needed but continue to push yourself.
Other Time Management Tips for Bloggers
Keep in mind what you may be able to do to increase efficiencies, like batching and/or repurposing content. Here are some examples:
- Batch: competitor research for 4 posts (looking at similar posts and seeing how you can be a better resource and cover every question your reader may have)
- Batch: keyword research for 4 posts (which usually includes outlining the post using the keywords in headings)
- Batch: content writing) for 4 posts
- Batch: SEO optimization for 4 posts (see the SEO checklist in the MyBlog workbook in the bonus section!)
- Batch: find or create images for 4 blog posts
- Batch: 2 Pinterest images for 4 posts
- Batch: Schedule 4 posts to publish then schedule social updates after each publish date
- Repurpose: use an old post for an email update
- Repurpose: use a paragraph or image from an old blog post for a social update (1 or more)
- Repurpose: create a round up post for all your posts related to X topic
That’s just an example of blog posts. You can batch reporting, adding additional Pinterest images to old posts, updating old posts, and any other task that can be grouped with others.
Time management sounds so boring…but seeing more progress in your life and on your blog will show you that it is well worth it!