To build a sense of urgency and avoid being overwhelmed with work, it is helpful to create definite periods of time or ‘time boxes’ in which you work. Set a timer and do not work for more or less than the time you set. Then, take a break for a small timed period. Rinse and repeat. Working like this will help you overcome procrastination because you will not feel the sense of being overwhelmed by a project. One of the main reasons that students (or anyone) procrastinate is that they feel anxious about not knowing how to begin and/ or that they will have to keep working for a long time. By limiting the time spent working on something to a set number, we can alleviate anxiety caused by either of these problems.
Working for a definite amount of time also helps stop perfectionism and curbs the desire to spend more time on a project than is necessary. Many people suffer from this. They work long hours to make their project as perfect as it can possibly be. Sometimes this leads to people doing great things. However, it is more often an enemy of productivity as it leads to a task dragging on for longer than needed. For example, if it takes 10 hours to complete an assignment to a 70 percent standard, is it worth working 20 hours to complete it to a 72 percent standard? Sometimes yes, but usually no. Time boxing is an excellent tool for stopping perfectionism in its tracks. It forces us to complete
Both for study sessions and for whole projects, many students find they work more effectively by working to a time scale. In doing so, you will create a greater sense of urgency to your work, as you only think about continuing work until the timer sounds. The alternative of working for an unspecified amount of time makes both beginning and continuing work more difficult. It also encourages a slow, non-urgent work mode and/ or perfectionism. To avoid this, use time boxing and set time limits for your work.