Updated: Apr 23
Hey everyone, welcome back to the blog. I'm going to share with you a technique that I created to help me focus and be more productive.
The technique is called Prioritized Timeboxed Method, or PTM for short. It combines two of the most powerful principles in the productivity world - "Parkinson's principle" and "The Pareto principle".
Let's take a look at these two principles first.
Parkinson's principle states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
This means that if you give yourself a whole day to finish a task, you will probably take the whole day to do it. But if you give yourself a shorter deadline, you will be more focused and efficient.
The Pareto principle states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. This means that not all tasks are equally important or urgent. Some tasks have a bigger impact on your goals than others.
So how do you apply these two principles to your daily work?
Well, this is where PTM comes in.
PTM is a simple but powerful technique that helps you prioritize and timebox your tasks. Here's what you need:
- An index card (Link to buy on Amazon)
- A pen (I use the Parker Ultra fine Navigator pens)
- A timer (Preferably a separate device)
That's it. No fancy apps, no notebooks, no distractions. Just a card, a pen, and a timer.
Here's how you use them:
Step 1: Write down your to-do list on the index card. Don't worry about the order or the details. Just write down everything that you need or want to do today.
Step 2: Prioritize your list using up and down arrows. Look at each task and ask yourself: How important is this task for my goals? How urgent is this task for today? Use up arrows for high-priority tasks and down arrows for low-priority tasks. You can also use double arrows for very high or very low-priority tasks. For example:
- Write a video script ↑↑
- Reply to emails ↓
- Do laundry ↓↓
- Call mom ↑
Step 3: Timebox your tasks using the Pomodoro method. The Pomodoro method is a simple technique that helps you work in short bursts of focused time followed by short breaks. You set a timer for 25 minutes and work on one task without interruptions. When the timer rings, you take a 5-minute break. After four pomodoros, you take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes.
To timebox your tasks using PTM, you assign a number of Pomodoros to each task based on its priority and complexity. For example:
- Write a video script ↑↑ (4 pomodoros)
- Reply to emails ↓ (1 pomodoro)
- Do laundry ↓↓ (0 pomodoros)
- Call mom ↑ (1 pomodoro)
Step 4: Start working on your highest priority task first and follow the timer. Don't switch tasks until you finish the assigned pomodoros or the task itself. If you finish a task before the pomodoros are over, use the remaining time to review your work or start another task.
Step 5: Cross off each task as you complete it and move on to the next one. If you have any new tasks that come up during the day, add them to the bottom of the list and prioritize them accordingly.
That's it! That's how you use PTM to get more done in less time with less stress. But why does it work so well?
Here are some of the advantages of using this technique:
- It helps you focus on what matters most and avoid procrastination.
- It helps you break down big tasks into manageable chunks and track your progress.
- It helps you avoid distractions and interruptions by creating a sense of urgency and commitment.
- It helps you balance your work and rest by giving you regular breaks and rewards.
- It helps you save time and space by using a simple card instead of a book or a digital device.
Why use a physical card and not a notebook or digital device?
Using a card instead of a book or a digital device has many benefits for PTM.
First of all, it limits the number of tasks that you can write down, which forces you to be more selective and realistic about what you can accomplish in a day. The smaller the card, the better. Remember the Pareto principle. 20% of the tasks result in 80% of the results. So prioritize the most important tasks.
Second, it reduces the temptation to check your phone or computer for notifications or other distractions while working on your tasks.
Third, it gives you a physical reminder of your goals and achievements that you can carry with you anywhere.
So there you have it: PTM, the Prioritized Timeboxed Method.
A simple but powerful technique that I created to help me focus and be more productive. I hope you find it useful and give it a try.