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There are several time management techniques. There are two that have similar names and somehow similar concepts; however, each one has its own peculiarities. We are going to talk about Timeboxing for students and highlight the similarities and differences when compared with time blocking.

Comparing Timeboxing and Time blocking 

Both techniques, timeboxing and time blocking seek to organize activities in batches. Furthermore, each batch of time not only has a duration but also a start time and an end time. So far, these are the main similarities. 

The main difference is that during a time block the user makes an effort to achieve as much as possible of the type of activity that was chosen. For example, reading, checking emails, writing a paper, etc. While in a time box there is a goal set that has to be achieved within the time frame decided. For example, reading chapters 4 and 5, sending the 5 pending emails I have and reading those from my classmates and teachers, or writing 5 pages of my thesis. Might seem alike, but the difference is paramount. While time blocking is about activities, timeboxing is about goals.

What if I can’t do all that I had planned for a time box? Fair question. To answer this there are few considerations that will help you navigate timeboxing for students.

Timeboxing tools 

  1. Analyze if the task at hand can be boxed.
  2. Set reasonable expectations. Clearly, you will not be able to read Shakespeare’s Hamlet in just 30 minutes.
  3. Have everything you need ready beforehand, or plan the time needed for setup. Maybe you can solve those math problems in 45 minutes, but if you need 10 minutes to find the book, 5 minutes to clear your desk, 5 more minutes to sharpen the pencil, and 5 extra minutes to verify which problems you are meant to solve… You have already lost 25 minutes out of 45, leaving only 20 minutes of real work.
  4. Define if the box is hard or soft. Hard boxes do not allow for any extension, by the time the clock rings you must move to your next box. While a softbox provides some flexibility at the end. Hard boxes might be scary, but softboxes are dangerous if the flexibility is so accommodating that 30 minutes of reading might expand to 4 hours.
  5. Learn from experience. Your first estimates won’t be perfect. Reserve 5 minutes every day to reflect on your estimates and improve them based on reality. Be careful not to mistake a bad estimate for poor performance as exemplified in number 2 and 3. The example in number 2 would be a bad estimate, the one in 3 is clearly poor execution.
  6. Set a timer. If possible, a visible timer. Keeping track of time will help you both in your performance and in your reflection for improvement.

Studeam as a time boxing tool

Finally, I want you to see how STUDEAM can help you plan your time better. Whether you choose to use it as time blocks or timeboxes is up to you. However, if you have no time left to lose because you have an overflow warning, consider timeboxing as the best tactic to follow during such a crisis.

I hope that this post has helped you to understand how to apply Timeboxing for students. You can find more time management techniques here. Read our Time Blocking entry or check out this HBR article.