Timebox

This post belongs to this root post and may be out of context if it is read separately.

Meetings

How many times have you entered a meeting thinking ‘oh my god, this will take hours. I have no idea around what time this meeting will end.‘ Many of us experienced this situation before.

The timebox is a very important subject, because our time has a price. This is the key: How do we valuate our time? Our time is precious. Think about it: All the time you and I have, is the time that life gives us, therefore it is our right to decide where to invest it. The biggest benefit that timebox brings is the respect for ourselves and for our colleagues. We must not allow that situation when, in the moment we enter a meeting, someone else starts managing our time.

All the meetings must be timeboxed. Let’s say, 15 minutes for the daily standup, 1 hour for the retrospective, 1 hour for the code review, etc. The meetings must start at the exact time they were scheduled, no matter who’s in yet and who’s late, and must end when the timebox finishes. If, by the time this occurs, there are some topics about which we still want to discuss about, we can always schedule another meeting, with a new timebox.

 

Tasks

Tomato kitchen clock

We can also timebox our daily work. A tool that I like is the Pomodoro technique, which divides the time in intervals of 25 minutes interleaved by 5-15 minutes breaks. The key is that during such 25 minutes, we must focus on a single task (for instance, coding), ignoring all kind of interruptions, like phone notifications or people appearing to ask questions. Let people know how much time is left for your pomodoro to end, they may come back during your break if the question was that important.

It works great for coding, but also for many tasks, like studying or sewing.

And BTW, it was called this way after his founder, Francesco Cirillo, used a tomato kitchen clock to measure intervals.

 

Conclusion

The timebox improves our time management because it helps us focusing on a single task at a time, during an scheduled period. It also cares about our mental health, because it forces us to take breaks. And finally and most important, it allows us to conciliate work and personal environments, because it respects our use of time.

 

Go back to the root post to read about other Agile techniques.

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