As the old saying goes, time is money.
Benjamin Franklin is often credited with the phrase, which maybe explains why it’s a sentiment that feels almost like its built into the American psyche. But Franklin was a thoughtful man, and his musings about time went even deeper when he wrote that “lost time is never found again.”
That’s a clear departure from the first thought. After all, entrepreneurs know that even if we lose money on one venture, we can find our way back into it with another. Time, not so much.
But why, you might now be asking, should we care what Ben Franklin wrote about time?
The answer lies in a skill you may’ve already seen in a thousand job listings — time management. Too often, we find ourselves swamped, up to our necks in work in main hustles or side ones, a million little things stacked against our natural desire to watch football, take the kids to the park or just catch a nap. If you work on a deadline, this might be a recurring nightmare. And while it feels there’s not enough time to get everything done, a real accounting of our days would find plenty of lost hours that accumulate into wasted days, weeks and months, all of which you could spend on the things you love.
So let’s put it all to rest.
One technique we’ve found to cut through this wasteland is timeboxing, a kind of major upgrade to your simple to-do list. As the name suggests, timeboxing takes a whole day and cuts it up into boxes of time for all the different tasks you need to get done. The average day of your life has a structure whether or not you intend it, a kind of time pattern that includes everything you do for each 24-hour block. The structure includes your morning routine, commute, the moments when you first get to work and start your computer, your afternoon coffee break, everything.
The first step of a timeboxing exercise is to box off your out-of-work time. When do you wake up in the morning? How long do you take to brush your teeth and eat breakfast? Whatever it takes, you put it in a box and assign it the correct amount of time.
Repeat the process for your working hours. When are you most productive? For many of us, there are windows when produtivity peaks and we do our best, most focused work — sometimes there’s a lead-in period where our minds fall into a groove, cranking up efficiency until we’re finally in the zone.
Your timeboxes should reflect that. Take your habits of periodically checking the email inbox or social media feeds and stuff them into a box or two. How long does it really take to read and respond to emails? Maybe you can do it all in a morning and afternoon box of 15 minutes each to maximize the time when your productivity is still firing up to maximum potential.
The Harvard Business Review published a fuller explanation of timeboxing that we found particularly helpful, so you might want to check it out for extra details when boxing out your own day. Want to use your extra hours to build your startup? We’re the ones to call for that, so get in touch online or call us at 508-444-2571 to get started.