Time Boxing

Eliot and I have in the past had some pretty significant disagreements about undertaking projects at home and it’s typically caused by the scope of the project and the amount of time it takes. We both have a bit of trouble estimating accurately and often underestimate. That usually leads to both of us being unhappy due to the pressure you feel from the person not involved in the project to finish up and the resentment of the person doing the project for eating in to family time/personal time or even just adding unexpected load with meal preparation, childcare etc. The kind of projects I’m talking about are things like cleaning out the pantry, Konmari-ing everything, garage sale preparation, building bike boxes, bike maintenance and making Halloween costumes to name a few.

Recently in the office we have been talking a lot about time-boxing in meetings to ensure we get through all the agenda items. It is being driven from our transition to the agile methodology but basically its putting time limits around the completion of a particular task. The idea is to identify the task or discussion point and allot time to it in advance. You will either finish the task in that time or when the time box is up, you move on and park anything outstanding for the next time you meet. We are still somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd phases of learning (conscious incompetence -> conscious competence) and have a way to go but when we apply it, it works really well and when we don’t, we lose focus, tend to wander off on other topics and rush everything at the last-minute.

Looking at these two situations (work and home), it occurred to me there are some similarities and time-boxing could definitely benefit our situation at home. It would mean that I might not get through the entire pantry in one go or Eliot might have to have two goes at sewing an Orangutan costume for Halloween and that feeling of not being finished will rear its head (I hate not being able to tick a box!) however I think that the overall goals and well-being of the team (family) are more important. I’m going to try it this weekend, our office is a nightmare and needs an overhaul, I’ll give it an hour. What can you time-box? Is cleaning the bathrooms? Is it clearing your computer desktop or doing your taxes? Is it that sewing project that you can’t start because it’s going to take 4 hours and you just don’t have 4 hours? Have a go at time-boxing them, see how it affects your focus and family, hopefully for the better…

1 Comment

  1. […] that we will be working on multiple things at once.  At work and at home.  This goes along with time boxing.  If you have something that needs longer focused attention, book it in, set expectation of those […]

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