Time blocking is a popular productivity technique and I have previously created videos on time blocking with Google Calendar and Notion. Today, I am going to introduce you to a new technique that I use personally that I call “rotary time boxing.”

Time Blocking vs Time Boxing

The first question most of you have is what is the difference between time blocking and time boxing?
 
Time Blocking involves dedicating specific blocks of time in your calendar for different tasks or activities. For example, you may block out 9 am-11 am for writing, 11 am-12 pm for emails, and 2 pm-3 pm for meetings.
 
Time Boxing, on the other hand, involves setting a fixed time period or “box” for a specific task, and stopping work on that task once the time box expires, even if incomplete. For instance, you may time box 30 minutes for responding to emails, 1 hour for content creation, etc. The emphasis is on limiting the time spent per task to increase focus and prevent overworking.
 
The Pomodoro technique is an example of time boxing where you might spend 30 minutes on a task or project, take a 5-minute stretch break, and then move to the next project for 30 minutes.
 

What is Rotary Time Boxing?

Rotary time boxing is taking the time boxing technique and using it to rotate through all your critical projects or areas of responsibility on a daily/weekly basis.
 
For example, you might spend 30 minutes or one hour each on:
  • Project 1
  • Project 2
  • Project 3
Then at the end, you “rotate” back to Project 1. Expanding on this a bit, let’s look at the top three tasks for each project:
  • Project 1
    • Task 1
    • Task 2
    • Task 3
  • Project 2
    • Task 1
    • Task 2
    • Task 3
  • Project 3
    • Task 1
    • Task 2
    • Task 3
In this case, we have worked out the three most important tasks for each project and listed them in priority sequence, where task 1 is the highest priority or the first step in a series.
 
So for our first 30 minutes, we work on Project 1/Task 1. If we complete it, we move on the task 2 until complete, and so on. When the 30-minute timer runs out, we add a comment to the task so we know where we left off, then move to Project 2/Task 1.
So our to-do list now looks like this:
  • Project 1
    • Task 1
    • Task 2
    • Task 3
  • Project 2
    • Task 1
    • Task 2
    • Task 3
  • Project 3
    • Task 1
    • Task 2
    • Task 3

If you find this too conceptual, let’s try a more real-life example.  Let’s say you have 3 projects Marketing, Client Retention, and Productivity Improvements. Now your task list might look like this.

  • Marketing
    • Identify target audience
    • Identify marketing channels that reach this target audience
    • Write a marketing plan to use these channels to market to our target audience
  • Client Retention
    • Review support tickets for common challenges
    • Create an exit survey
    • Create a plan to reduce client turnover
  • Productivity Improvements
    • Identify tasks that could be automated
    • Assign to IT team to automate
    • Identify tasks that could be done by a virtual assistant
    • Hire a virtual assistant
 
So if you were working on your Marketing Project, you only have one task to worry about for the next 30 minutes – identifying your target audience.
 
At the end of the 30 minutes, you move to the Client Retention Project and start compiling problems and challenges from your support ticket database, and so on.
 

Rotary Time Boxing vs Time Blocking

While time blocking can be very effective, you might struggle to make things fit in your calendar, especially when you might have unexpected meetings or appointments that replace the time block you had set aside for a certain project. Once that time block is gone, that project might get zero attention that week and get behind.
 
With Rotary Time Boxing, you are rotating through each project in 30-minute or 1/2 hour sprints of focused time, so the meetings don’t matter. This way every project gets at least some attention each week.
 
Rotary Time Boxing is the technique I use myself and is an excellent method for people struggling with traditional time blocking.
 
If you need help getting rotary time boxing working for you, check out my time management coaching program.