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  • Back to Basics: Timeboxing (Part 4 of 5)


How can a timer help you overcome procrastination, give you more focus, and reduce distractions?

Lets start by painting a picture.

Say you know what your most important task, your frog, is for the day. This is the number one result you want to produce before you clock out at 5pm. It is a proposal for a client.

You open up that document. You start to think about that client. Then in the corner of your eye you see an indication that you have new email messages. You think to yourself. I’ll just check that. Oh. I can answer that really quickly. That can wait. That can wait. Archive that. Okay back to their proposal. Where was I? Oh there’s a text message on my cellphone let me just get that. Respond. Put that aside. Okay now where was I on that client proposal? Now speaking of the proposal for our clients, I wonder if it is going to rain for our outing with them this weekend. Let me check the weather real fast. That will only take a minute.

Does that scenario sound familiar?

You may have spent the last 20 minutes trying to work on your most important task, but without control of your attention very little gets done. If you lose control of your attention for long enough, entire days can slip by without doing any meaningful work.

“Control your attention and you control your world.”

Timeboxing allows you to overcome procrastination, increase your focus, and reduce distraction by giving you more control over your attention.

In fact, I’m using it right now to put together this blog post (8 minutes left on my timer).

Back to Basics Technique #4 – Timeboxing

Watch this video where Thanh explains what Timeboxing is, the process, why it works, and how it can be used to increase your productivity

Next Actions

Read over the five step Timeboxing process.

  1. Identify the task at hand.
  2. Set your timer to 25 minutes.
  3. Work on the task until the timer goes off.
  4. Take a 5 minute break.
  5. For every four Timeboxes take a longer break (15 to 35 minutes)

Then download the Daily Timebox Tracker. Try using one 25 minute Timebox the next time you need to focus.

If you want to dive a little deeper, read the classic Asian Efficiency post on Timeboxing (also known as the Pomodoro Technique). Try it for yourself. Use it to eat your frog. See what happens. I guarantee you’ll be happy with the results.

Next: Morning Ritual

Previous: Minimalist Luxury Lifestyle

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Thanh Pham

Founder of Asian Efficiency where we help people become more productive at work and in life. I've been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, and The Globe & Mail as a productivity thought leader. At AE I'm responsible for leading teams and executing our vision to assist people all over the world live their best life possible.

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  1. you guys are doing a great job –


    if i recoupe : i ll name my child “effie” – problem – I m over 50.

    keep it up – comrades

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