- How To Get Nothing Done: The Art and Science of Wresting Defeat From the Jaws of Victory
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 1: What Is Timeboxing, Why Does It Work, And Why Should You Care?
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 2: Nested Timeboxing
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 3: Dual Timeboxing
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 3.5: Timeboxing Turns Work Into Play
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 4: Decremental Timeboxing
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 5: Incremental Timeboxing and Mixed Timeboxing
- My (Current) Timeboxing Tools: Hardware Timers
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 6: Q&A
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 7: Isn’t Timeboxing Just A Waste of Time?
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 8: Don’t Those Super-Short Timeboxes Make Timeboxing Meaningless?
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 9: Birthlines And Timeboxing
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 10: Timeboxing, Tony Schwartz and Recovery
- Decremental Timebox → Real Time Conversion Table
- Can Timeboxing Help Me Do Really Big, Hard Things?
- Three Minutes Of…
- Nothing Is Hard
Timeboxing Turns Work Into Play
I love how nested timeboxing makes virtually any work feel like web-surfing — mindlessly moving from one interesting thing to the next (except, of course, in this case, we’re doing something immediately productive!).
I use the word “mindless” deliberately…usually this word carries a negative connotation, but the thing is that most of us have “too many mind“; most of us spend time stuck in analysis paralysis pretending to be “prioritizing tasks” when really we’re just freaking out and hating our work and ourselves.
I’m with HONDA Naoyuki on this one — most of us don’t need to prioritize our work, we just need to get started on it. Many times. That’s what’s killing us…paucity of starts. And all the tidying and soda breaks and relaxation exercises in the world cannot will not ever change this. Let’s be brutally honest: your life simply is not that complicated — most of the time, you already know what your top priority direction is. The only question is: are you headed in it?
That’s why I’ve found timeboxing to be such a great tool. Timeboxing, used skillfully, is all about “shut the truck up and just effing do it” — minus the meanness.
Dual timeboxing can give work the spontaneity of play. Because, you see, work and play are actually the same. The primary difference between work and play is not content, but form. When you feel like you’re making a lot of fun, small choices, we call it play. That’s why mountaineering is classified as a hobby and not a life-threatingly dangerous form of hard manual labor — lots of fun, small choices.
As it turns out, certain types of content tend to get packaged in fun forms…but trust me when I tell you that video games start to get boring for game testers. Play can become work and work can become play. The key is that you have the knowledge and freedom to make everything a game for yourself.
You don’t need to get rid of Facebook and Gmail and all the other game-like distractions — they’re not the problem: they’re the solution. More accurately, they contain the blueprint for the solution. Play and games distract us not because something is wrong with us, but because something is right with them: they are tapping directly into “the firmware of the mind“, if you will . We need to cut up our work into pieces so tiny and so easy to do that we don’t even know or feel that we’re working any more. We need to turn our work into Farmville. That’s what these 90-second spurts are to me. A game.
Why bother change our nature? Why pretend that we don’t, as human beings, prioritize short term gain over long term gain? We’re not going to win by forcing ourselves away from that. We have tried — Heaven knows we have tried — and it doesn’t work. Correction: it does work, but only when someone else is there to coerce us, and it fails as soon as that person disappears. This is why so many former professional athletes are obese…it’s not age: it’s dependence on coercion.
If worrying is about having “too many mind”, then flow is all about “losing your mind” (how do I keep coming up with these?). To the extent that dual timeboxing can help get rid of “too many mind”, you could argue that it is helping us induce flow states. And that’s fun.