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I have all the time in the world

Photo by José Martín on Unsplash

Time-boxing is one approach to doing things. Each day, planning your calendar meticulously and deciding on what you need to get done at what time. This can help us to be very productive and keep our motivation high as we tick off one task after another in each of the time-boxes.

But this approach doesn't allow us to lose ourselves in a task. We end up always having one eye on the clock. This can put us in the position similar to having two dates, scheduled one immediately after another. No matter how good the first one is going, we are obligated to put an end to it and move on to the next one.

Years ago, when I first started planning my days, time-boxing was my favoured approach. But, over time, I evolved it into it's current form.

Which is to be able to say, 'I have all the time in the world' to anything that interests me. I still plan my days with a time-boxing approach where I set aside specific amounts of time for different tasks that I need to get done throughout the day. But, if any one of those begins to get me deeply focused or interested and I end up in a flow state, which happens quite often when I'm writing, I forget about the scheduled end time and just continue until I lose my flow. Then I quickly re-adjust my schedule by moving around the other things whose time was eaten into. And if I can't do justice to them in the same day, I'll push few of them to the next day, or the day after that.

The goal is not adherence to the plan. That is only a proxy. The real goal is to make progress in the things I care about and have set out to do. Sometimes, even though I score high on adherence to plan, I score low on real progress because it is easy to get away with the bare minimum quality of work when all that matters is adherence.

This is more or less the evolution we have had in the workplace too.

Older workplaces used to have the punch-in and punch-out systems and it was important to employers to ensure that their employees clocked in certain amount of hours in the office (time-boxing).

But now, a lot of workplaces don't care about when someone comes in or leaves the office or even where they work from. All that matters is real progress on the work they are expected to do.

They have moved on from measuring proxies to measuring the real deal.

The plan and the schedule helps us to set expectations and goals and to get us started. Without that, we could be running around aimlessly. But mere adherence doesn't enthuse passion in anyone.

However, real progress does.

And we are much more likely to make real progress when we are able to say 'I have all the time in the world' than if we have to say, 'I have one hour. I'll do the best I can in that time and then I'm off to do something else.'

What works for you?

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