Timeboxing, or one of the many variations on it, is easily one of the best techniques for being more productive throughout the day. Timeboxing allows you to get the motivation up to do the things you don’t want to do, focuses your attention on the tasks that really need to be prioritized, stops you from wasting time on pointless tasks and makes Parkinson’s Law work for you. Oh, and I think it’s kind of fun too.
So what is timeboxing? Essentially, it’s taking a task and assigning a fixed period of time for its completion. Once you hit that time limit, you stop working and move on to something else, regardless of whether or not you actually completed your task.
How does quitting before we’re finished help? Well, let me show you.
Roughly 141 days have passed (I’m not sure if today counts yet) and I am now officially at the end of Winter Molt Challenge.
I have to say, overall it has been a tremendous success. As of today I weigh in at 156.3 pounds and am 9.8% body fat. Now, technically my original goal was to reach 150 pounds by this date. I’ve found however that, with the strength training routine I’ve been following and my goal of obtaining as good a strength:weight ratio as possible, 150 pounds and under is just too light.
Charts and data are to come, as well as a general overview of everything that worked and everything that didn’t. In the meantime though I wanted to get something up today so no one is left hanging on the results.
Anyone who has been around children for an appreciable amount of time knows that the best way to get them to do something they don’t want to is to use a reward. Kid doesn’t want to go to the doctor so you promise them a new toy afterward if they behave, grades are slipping so you offer to pay $10 for every A you see on their report card, etc. Once they’ve been rewarded enough times for doing it, going to the doctor or getting better grades doesn’t become such a battle anymore. They may even start to enjoy it.
Ok, you may call those bribes, not rewards – doesn’t matter. The basic mechanism is the same regardless. The child has a behavior you want to correct, you offer a positive stimulus for engaging in the desired behavior and the child starts associating the behavior with the reward and begins to enjoy it. Easy.
Now, if this sounds a little bit like dog training that’s because, well, it is!
Barriers are a notorious, common enemy to anyone trying to reach their goals.They have many manifestations – something that gets in the way, laziness, etc. – but the result is always the same: they keep us from accomplishing our goals. There’s a lot of articles floating around the web on how barriers are evil goal and productivity killers and how you need to identify them and kick ‘em in the shins.
But what if we use barriers to our advantage? What if we flip them over and make them into a good thing? Is it even possible to use barriers to prevent ourselves from becoming derailed from the path to our goals? I think the answer is yes.
Fear of failure is a seriously crippling thing. It’s also deeply rooted in our subconsciouses. How fun. Fear of failure makes us freeze out on stage and forget all of our lines. Fear of failure makes us not commit to things, to never get started in the first place or – worst of all – to purposefully sabotage projects that are going well before they really get going.
I have no science to back this claim up, but I would still bet that if you went around and asked everyone why they don’t quit their job and follow their dreams, why they haven’t sold all their junk and run off to travel the world or probably even why they aren’t trying to improve themselves that the most common answer would be – fear of failure.
Being afraid of failing is a natural thing. That being said, it’s still not a good thing. It keeps us from going where we want to go and doing what we want to do. It makes us miserable, anxious and in a lot of cases depressed. I’m sure someone smarter than I could devise a way to turn those around and harness fear of failure to make it work for them.
I eat like a caveman.
Well, ok, not exactly like a caveman. We don’t know with 100% certainty how pre-agricultural man ate and I admit to enjoying the occasional bottle of wine, bar of chocolate or aged cheese – all of which I can pretty comfortably say wouldn’t have been easily available 20,000 years ago. Let’s not get too bogged down in particulars here though, compared to the vast majority of my modern man compatriots I eat like a caveman.
So why do I eat like a caveman and not the way everyone else eats? Let’s take a look at two average specimens of good ol’ Homo Sapiens and see if we can’t solve this riddle.
I wholeheartedly believe that one of the best things that you can do to improve your quality of life is to learn to be grateful and appreciative.
We’ve talked about ways to improve your quality of life before, and touched on gratefulness there, but it deserves its own article.
Having a strong sense of gratefulness or appreciation is extremely important in developing an overall sense of well-being and happiness in life. All too often people find themselves losing sight of what’s really important, growing unhappy with their situation and becoming upset over everything.
Learning to be grateful helps solve all of these problems. Understanding how lucky you are to have the things that you do have often puts into perspective how inconsequential it is when you don’t get the things you want. Gratefulness lets us look at a bad situation which might otherwise really upset us and say, “You know, I’m gonna let it go. It’s really no big deal.”
Having learned from my Winter Molt Challenge that regular progress updates are not only tedious to produce but, honestly, probably not that interesting to read this is going to be the only check in for this challenge until you get our final result.
We’re now a little past the halfway point and I am extremely pleased with our progress. Our 1,000 words in 30 days mini-challenge worked out really well, though I’ve found it a little difficult to quantify exactly how well we did. I can, however, tell a huge difference in our comprehension as a direct result of the vocabulary boost.
We both now regularly read the news in Korean everyday. We are also working through Korean books. I can’t say we have 100% comprehension at this point, but it’s sufficient to read and then usually be able to relate about 80% to 90% of what happened.
If you’re not practicing it, you should be. If you are, well, then you don’t really need to be reading this do you? Go outside and have some fun.
Anyway, back to the people who are the actual targets of this article – people who don’t practice parkour. You might be wondering, “What in the world is parkour anyway?”. I’m glad you asked.
Parkour, as defined by Mark of American Parkour, is “…the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment.” Now, that’s just speaking strictly of parkour, there’s also freerunning. I’m not really going to touch freerunning for right now, since there’s a lot of debate over what ‘real’ parkour is and I don’t want to get into it here. Suffice it to say that parkour is moving over obstacles in the most fluid and efficient way possible.
Put another way, parkour is the art of making the entire world your playground.
You’re going to hear this from me a lot, so get used to it – before long, you’re going to be dead. I don’t mean that as a threat or anything, I’ll be dead too, it’s just that we really don’t get very long to live. As a male in the U.S., ranked #36 in world life expectancy at the time of writing, I’m told I’ve got about 75 years total. At 23 years old, that means one full third of my projected life is gone already, and most of that time has been spent wasting away in compulsory schooling.
With that in mind, don’t you think it’s a good idea to try out this 5 easy little things that you can do to improve what time you do have here?