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W5 Brief from Keegan - Forming a Timeboxing Habit

A new productivity habit, weekly wrap up, and buckets of soft, pillowy, white, delicious snow (minus all the lines please).

Keegan Leary
Keegan Leary
They say time is money, but really it's not
If we ever go broke, then time is all we got  ~J. Cole

Other than shoveling the deck and skiing sweet pow, this week has been about trying out timeboxing.

Timeboxing is the idea of using your calendar in a way to plan your day and execute on tasks that you want to finish.  Lots of productivity pundits out there tout it as the most effective way to get things done.  I see a lot of claims that it beats out the traditional To Do List (my personal method uses daily post-it notes), so I figured I would give it a try.

I've tried to adopt timeboxing a few times, but have alwasy come up short.  I can effectively use a calendar to schedule appointments, meet deadlines, and remember birthdays, but I alwasy felt as though things like "lunch break," "workout," and "get ready" were a little too nitty gritty to go on the calendar.

Since I've failed a few times before, I tagged Nick to be my "acountability buddy".  My first bite-sized goal would be to schedule Monday from 0700 to 1200.  Easy enough.  I had a few things in mind that I wanted to get done that week, most importantly working through 3 chemistry modules so that I can complete the course before Feb 15, complete 2 coding modules, exercise, and work a few guitar songs.  We scheduled a check in for 1130 Monday to debrief how it went.

How'd it go?  🤷‍♂ As with many things, I began with vigor, which quickly faded as time wore on.  My Monday morning was very productive, but as I continued with the week, I became less disciplined about start/stop times.  Buckets of snow spewing all over Tahoe didn't help the situation, and I had to rework my schedule a few times to fit in some half-days of pow shredding.  HOWEVER, I got my priorities for the week done!  So even without a strict adherence to the timing, I still accomplished my goal.  That's a point for timeboxing, though honestly prett sure my post-it note to-do list method would have gotten me there too 🤔.

I'm still interested in building this habit and iterating on the method, but here are my thought so far.

  1. The power of timeboxing is in the name - time.  I want to adhere better to start/stop times.
  2. I also worry that adhering to start/stop times will prevent me from really digging into something.  My most effective work sessions always seem to be the ones where I get lost for hours in a task or am not thinking about any sort of stop time.  I keep believing that timeboxing could kill this.  Too iterate on my approach, maybe I can have standard timeboxes and open-end timeboxes (i.e. it ends on white space and I can just keep grinding if I'm in the zone).
  3. Schedules change though routine is powerful.  People often say "I'm stuck in a routine," but I don't necessarilly think that's a bad thing.  As my schedule changed, I just dragged my boxes around on the calendar.  that was kind of cool.
  4. Parkinson's Law - Work expands to fill up the time alotted.  I wonder if I can prime myself with this concept as I build out my schedule for next week?  Maybe the key realization here is to iron out how I assign deadlines to tasks where I am only accoutnable to myself.  One of my favorite sayings from my sub days was, "If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute!" 😂

Here's my timeboxed schedule from last week:

What I'm Reading:

The Iliad as a Graphic Novel, Gareth Hinds.  Incredibly fun interpretation of Homer's Iliad.  For a rich graphic novel, also very affordable. "Sing to me, O Muse, of the rage of Achilles" 🔥 🔥 🔥

What I'm Listening To:

WHOOP Podcast 108 with Daniel Plews - Dude is a beast who set Kona Ironman course record for his age group in 2018.  Main topic of the podcat is HRV (Heart Rate Variability) but he had some excellent insights on nutrition as well that are worth a listen.  He favors using HRV to determine workout efforts over the industry-standard block periodization method and that coaching (including nutrition!) should be outcome-based.  I'm seeing this idea percolate through a lot of modern coaching theories - that fitness plans should be custom to the individual and his/her upcoming race/event, rather than forcing individuals to adopt a pre-ordained method or plan.

Quicksand - Morray. Up and coming rapper on the scene!  found this on Jay-Z's top rap songs of 2020 list.

Also, Resort skiing is dead!  I said it.  Is everybody else not tired of waiting in line for 30-60 min for a 5 min powder dive?  I've got a keen eye on backcountry gear and education.  I've heard it's already taken off since COVID hit, so perhaps I'm just late to the game.

Wrap-Ups

Keegan Leary

10 years in the Navy as a Nuclear Submarine Officer. Soon to be be Naval Reservist. Fitness, Books, Cooking, and Coding.