Timeboxing

This blog post and its accompanying image were made in less than two hours. As I’m writing this however, the word count stands at 24. This may sound like a strange exercise in torture, reminiscent of college exams, but in fact it’s just putting a very useful tool to work: the timebox.

As I mentioned in my last post, I used to make YouTube videos professionally, but what I didn’t mention were some of the failures that came with it. While my personal channel was not very profitable, it wasn’t meant to be and was by far the most fun to produce. I started by making cooking videos, then vlogs, then way more than I could handle. One month, I decided it would be a good idea to launch four series simultaneously.

  • Watching Plants Grow: A cooperative series where I’d follow advice in the comment section of videos, and hope that my plants didn’t die.
  • Hablas Ingles?: This is where I got the idea to teach people Spanish despite not knowing any Spanish myself.
  • Leaving The Nest: I explored Montreal in order to get to know my city better, and find the best neighbourhood to move to.
  • Just Pokéball It!: I just wanted an excuse to play Pokémon.

None of these series had been pre-recorded when I launched them, and it quickly became evident that it was impossible to keep up without sacrificing my regular content. The new content itself wasn’t a failure; it was a lot of fun to make, and I learned a lot in the process. It’s the execution that needed some work an this is where timeboxing would have come in handy.

Timeboxing works like this: you set a goal, then you decide how much time you’re going to spend on it.

This might sound a lot like a deadline, but the key difference is that one is empowering, and the other is not. A deadline is given to you, and generally has some consequences attached. A timebox on the other hand is self-imposed, by a group or individual, and typically the consequences are light, if not inexistant.

In the case of my videos, the goal was to diversify my content, and that could have been done a lot more sustainably had I know about timeboxing. One day a week: Time to innovate. Simple. It can also be applied to lots of other things like meetings, gaming sessions, or scouting out technologies to build your next project. Basically, anything that you don’t want to be spending an eternity on.

With this blog, I’m actually scared that I’ll like it too much, and that it’ll cannibalize the time I want to spend on other things. Like my app… or having a social life! I figure that 2 hours is probably enough time to write something good in most cases (we are at 1:31:25 according to Toggl), and I can use any extra time to make cool illustrations, or stuff like that JavaScript button from the last post that lets you have this blog delivered to your mailbox 😉 . At any rate, consistence is key and I want this to last, so I’ll get to drawing, and see you next week!