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Timeboxing is Scary

This entry is part 3 of 14 in the series Best of AJATT+ Forum

Where's your timer?

I have another AJATT+ post to share with you.

Are you time boxing?

Have you read Khatz’s timeboxing “trilogy”?

If you haven’t read it — or tried timeboxing for realz yet — perhaps you’ve wondered if it actually works?

ファイズーhas tried it, and is alarmed at the results:

I haven’t read any timeboxing books or anything like that, just caught the gist of it from Khatz’s posts.  Every time I try it I get freaked out because it works so well.  It feels unnatural.  Like… life isn’t supposed to work like this.  Wasted time has always been a part of me!

Here’s a link to the original post where our favorite sempais chime in with their thoughts about timeboxing:


I’m getting more and more into timeboxing. I just did a altenating set of 15min SRS, 15 off, 15 SRS, 15 off, 15 SRS and it was super easy. Before I was doing 30 minute sets but this seems better, shorter sets might be even better.


What I’ve found most helpful is doing “just 5 minutes” on those tasks that I never want to start in a million years.  I’m always thinking, “This task is going to take foreeeever, it’s annoying, and I don’t even want to look at it today.”  But I usually can submit to doing something distasteful for 5 minutes… and when I do I realize the task isn’t as bad as I thought and within that 5 minutes I’ll get some ideas about how to move forward.


I absolutely adore timeboxing. Some stuff I do would never get done without it. I’ve often found that, for myself, the shorter the timebox, the better …

Finally, the very lovely rigabamboo:

I work more efficiently because I want to feel like I’ve accomplished something in each box. … I also have more productivity because each time I switch to a new task is like taking a pseudo-break. So I’m constantly working, but it feels like I’m giving myself a break when I switch to another task for a brief, refreshing 4 minute period.

Timeboxing is scary stuff.

Frighteningly efficient.

Try it in time for Halloween.


Series Navigation<< Famous Japanese PeopleA Goldmine of Japanese Dubbed Shows >>

  8 comments for “Timeboxing is Scary

  1. Apple Head
    October 22, 2011 at 18:59

    Sometimes I time box with music to add a little spice to it.  For instance, I’ll find a song I like that’s around five minutes, or whatever time, and then try to finish or do as much of my task as possible before the song is over.  And if I’m doing a repetitive task, I’ll put the song on repeat until I get sick of it.
    And for me, time boxing doesn’t really help me with the “showing up” part.  It does decrease the amount of time I spend on things, though, because it helps me focus on getting more done in a smaller time window.  I mean box.

    • あんど
      October 22, 2011 at 21:22

      Dude, I do the same thing with music as well! It really is a nifty tactic, ain’t it? 😀

  2. October 22, 2011 at 20:42

    Thanks a lot for reminding me that I need to give timeboxing another chance.
    I used timeboxing at some point and it does work REALLY well.

  3. ライトニング
    October 23, 2011 at 04:34

    I prefer timeboxing with sentences. I only have like 15 Kanji reps per day, so I just do them in one go, but sentences, I set a question limit of 25, then take a 5 minute break, then repeat. I guess you could call it Question boxing 😛 I just prefer it more.

  4. Sakurazuka Seishirō
    October 25, 2011 at 10:22

    Is timeboxing really necessary  if you’re still learning kanji? I’ve been doing RTK(anji) for like three days and am only on the 114th one…I do SRS reps about an hour a day, and spend two hours on the book. I feel like I could do more, but I try not to push myself too hard (or hard at all, actually. I don’t like pushin’ muhself to do anything). I feel like I’m getting along okay, with a 91% (not too great, but whatever) retention rate…would timeboxing help me?

    • SomeCallMeChris
      October 25, 2011 at 12:17

      You should probably try timeboxing at some point… time boxing settings are built into Anki, and I presume into Surusu. It can make the time use more efficient because you know you’re against the clock and focus, even if you don’t have the ‘starting’ problem. For me, for kanji, though, it really didn’t help… once I start doing my kanji reviews I just get into the groove and keep going until they are done, sometimes with a break halfway if I have a lot of reps that day. For vocabulary reviews though, timeboxing really helps with the ‘getting started’ thing.

      Also for -adding- stuff to my decks, easily the most tedious task in studying Japanese which is why people love premade decks, but I really want to review -specific- vocabulary for re-reading / re-watching some things. No built in tool for that, though, need to set a timer for that.

      • Kimura
        November 21, 2011 at 15:46

        It can really help if you’re a chronic three-day monk and frequently have 300+ reviews due. Kanji for ten minutes, sentences for ten minutes, something else for however long, repeat until done.

  5. kalek
    November 2, 2011 at 14:26

    I thought I’d try out timeboxing again after reading this post, and then I realized that timeboxing has become so much a part of my daily life that I forgot that already use it. Constantly.

    I cannot imagine my life before SRS or timeboxing. 

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