Time boxing

Using Timeboxing to Reduce Decision Fatigue

As I’ve been pondering decision fatigue lately, I’ve also been reading about what others are doing to reduce its effect on them.  One concept that has been intriguing to me is timeboxing.

Timeboxing is simply limiting an activity to a set period of time.

For example, you might set a timer for processing emails and do it as fast as possible.  Then when the timer goes off, close the email app and be finished for the day, or at least until you intentionally decide to spend time on it again.

We use this idea all the time.  When we take a class, hold a meeting (with a starting and ending time), or plan to workout for a set number of minutes a day, we’re timeboxing.

As I ask myself the question, “How much time do I want to spend staring at my phone, wiping sticky counters, or pulling weeds?” this idea of time boxing could be very useful.  I’ve been using it in our homeschool for years but didn’t know that it had a term in time management.  My kids have always had a set time for their subjects – an hour for math, for example.  They work on math for an hour and when the time is up, they’re finished.

Maybe moms can take a page from the time management book, Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by 99U:

“Establish hard edges in your day. Set a start time and a finish time for your workday—even if you work alone. Dedicate different times of day to different activities: creative work, meetings, correspondence, administrative work, and so on.

Perhaps I could use this timeboxing idea to reign in the time I spend on email, housework, farm chores, or administrative tasks.

In our roles as moms, sometimes our days can be a mishmash of scattered, often unrelated tasks all day and into the evening. It’s hard to know how much time we spend on things that may not be as valuable to us. But by time boxing our routine tasks and allocating time to different areas or types of tasks, we greatly reduce decision fatigue and those nagging, “I should be doing laundry,” thoughts.

If you were interested in the idea of decision fatigue, you might also like this post by The Modern Mrs. Darcy:  7 Ways I’m Eliminating Decision Fatigue.

She discusses timeboxing as well as other ways that we can use routines and make simple decisions ahead of time to reduce the effects of decision fatigue in our everyday lives.

Timeboxing is food for thought for me as we start up our school year this month and I think about how I’d like to rework my daily routine.  One way to start using the timeboxing technique is to track your time for a few days to see where you spend your time and find areas which might benefit from a shorter, more intentional, time window.

Do you use timeboxing at home?  Do you see any areas in your day where timeboxing may be helpful in freeing up time or reducing decision fatigue?  Leave a comment and let me know!