3 Simple Steps for Setting Up Timeboxing

Get your work done faster & feel great.

Marisa LaValette

Marisa LaValette

calendars on white table with coffee and glass of water


We all desire the ability to manage our commitments, have control of our day and achieve a sense of autonomy over how and when we do our best work. The desire for this freedom is natural and healthy.

We often face a problem, however. As students, sudden and unexpected deadlines appear. For knowledge workers, meetings are scheduled and tasks pile up without us expecting it. We wake up one morning and realize we’re completely overwhelmed with commitments.

Like you, we were frustrated with our natural tendency to become unorganized and chaotic when we approached our work. We needed a better solution. That’s partly why we created Centered; an antidote to distractions that steal critical time for deep work and our ability to focus.

We’re here to talk about one key way to more powerfully approach your day: adopting the principle of timeboxing. In this article, we’ll explain what timeboxing is and how it can help you reclaim hours of lost time every single day. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the know-how to implement a daily routine which you’re in control of. Let’s jump into it.

A practical solution to a difficult problem: timeboxing.

Timeboxing is a simple technique for time management that can boost your productivity.  Prioritize your day's tasks, allocate specific amounts of time to each one, and commit to the total elimination of distractions while getting your work done.

In 2018, Marc Zao-Sanders laid out in a Harvard Business Review paper a wonderful synopsis of the key benefits from the technique of timeboxing, which we’ll proceed to summarize here:

  1. It allows you to correctly position your work in your day.
  2. Having clear work blocks communicates to teammates and colleagues the times you’ll be unavailable.
  3. It builds a record of what you’ve done and where you estimate your time is spent.
  4. You will feel more in control.
  5. Timeboxes tame Parkinson’s Law that states that a task will fill the available time.

In addition, timeboxing can also help you achieve a state of time affluence; a concept we discuss in this video. Lecturer and author Nir Eyal describes this particularly positive benefit of timeboxing: experiencing more time leisure: “Timeboxing Leisure is the ease knowing that time for rest and recharging is coming soon.”


The three components of an effective timeboxing system

We’ve included everything you need to implement a timeboxing practice in your daily routine - right inside of Centered. Let’s unpack how it works.

1. List your tasks

The first step in adopting the timeboxing principle is to list the tasks you would like to complete in a given time period. We offer a simple and powerful task manager inside of Centered - or if you’re after more robust functionality, use a specific task manager (there are some great ones that integrate with Centered like Todoist, Asana and Linear).

2. Choose your most important task and then organize the rest

Great! You’ve written down your tasks and you can see all your commitments for today. The next step is to choose your most important task and bring it right to the top of the list. You’re going to work through these tasks in sequential order, so let’s make sure they’re sorted from highest priority to lowest.

Choose your most important task so that you can be sure it’s going to get done. In many ways, this is similar to the well known concept of “eating the frog.” You want to make sure your most important task absolutely gets done. In the next step, you’re going to be highly intentional with how much time you assign to this task.

Drag the tasks you'd like to accomplish up to "This Session."  Now's the time to decide which tasks must get done today versus the ones that can wait.

3. Allocate a specific amount of time you are able to spend on completing each of your tasks

The final step to setting up a well organised, timeboxed schedule for your day is to estimate how long each task in your to-do list should take to complete - or to be more precise, how long you are able and willing to work on this task. Go ahead and fill in your task estimates for the tasks you’ve dragged into your Session section.

You’re timeboxing. Congrats.

At Centered, we believe timeboxing is best experienced in tandem with other powerful tools to help you become more productive.

Timeboxing is a discipline that takes time to implement well. Equally, it is a powerful practice which can help you manage your time more effectively. At Centered, we pride ourselves on giving you a powerful system to implement time-boxing throughout your day. By pairing this with our AI-powered virtual coaches and science-backed focus music, we like to think that you can become unstoppable.

By timeboxing, you can set effective constraints on your work which gives you more time for guilt-free leisure. We can't wait to see you using timeboxing to get your work done faster. Ready to experience timeboxing in a Flow State for yourself?  Join us in our desktop experience where timeboxing will get you tapping into the productive power of your Flow State.