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Think inside the box

NB. I gave myself 30 mins to write this post. It will take you 65 seconds to read it.


Ever find your to do list growing each day with more being added than being completed? Your day flying by without any real progress towards your goals?

How to improve this? Timeboxing – Setting yourself a time limit in which to complete the task.

This is a simple yet effective way to focus your attention for short periods on a specific task in order to complete it.

Bond, James Bond always seems to be able to disable the bomb just in time, why? Because he has to. If not he’d be dead.


I know that’s a little dramatic but it makes the point that sometimes having time pressure helps to get sh!t done.

It keeps the mind focussed (as long as you focus on the task and not the timer).

There’s a bunch of research to support this. Sophie Leroy found that:

task completion under time pressure fosters a sense of cognitive closure, allowing us to fully shift our focus onto subsequent tasks.

Michael DeDonno (cool name!) states:

Have confidence in the amount of time you do have to do things. Try to focus on the task and not the time. We don’t control time, but we can control our perception. It’s amazing what you can do with a limited amount of time.Time is relevant. Just have the confidence with the time you’re given. I tell my students ‘Do the best you can in the time allotted. When it ends, it ends’.

How to start timeboxing?

The Pomodoro technique is one of the most famous methods. In summary you focus on a task for 25 minutes then take a short break of around 5 minutes. Every 4 pomodoro’s you take a longer break of around 30 mins.

Zen master Leo babutua also recently posted about trying 3 day cycles when trying to adopt new habits in order to fail faster.

Try it today. Pick an item on your to do list and think about how long it will take you to complete if you focussed on it with no distractions. Be realistic but challenge yourself to be the most efficient you can be. Great – now you have your time limit.

Now clear away the distractions. Do what you need to do to avoid being disturbed (put on headphones / go sit in a meeting room / put a sign like this on your chair).

Do whatever you need to do to focus and start smashing through your task. Now.Do.It.

Let me know how you find it. Maybe you do this already – if so do you have any tips to share about what works for you?

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