The Time Box
by Tyler Faison
I am easily distracted. If you have no problem staying focused, this resource is not for you. Thanks for visiting and please move on with your day. As a department head, I have many responsibilities and one of the most important is to make sure I stay on schedule for my build and prep days. While I know the idiosyncrasies of every piece of gear being used, but I need help when it comes to staying on schedule and allowing for proper time to build, prep and test the gear on our actual set or location. To help me get there I use the Time Box method. It's starts as a simple blank form/daily calendar type of schedule template and transforms into a hyperfocused task manager. It honestly doesn't matter if you're given one day or one week, laying out your to-do list in a schedule format will keep the day from getting away from you. Checklists are nice, but it doesn't help if you can't finish them on time.
The difference between a schedule and a Time Box is that the Time Box allows you to prioritize your tasks. You start by writing down your top three priorities. These will be easy to come up with because they are the dealbreaker tasks. For example, that might be frequency coordination, IFB programming or something like that; things that are really difficult to do after multiple bags are deployed along with dozens of producers in a variety of locations.
After that, you'll want to do a brain dump. This is your checklist, if you will. These items are in no specific order of importance, so just allow the information to flow freely from your brain, down your arm and onto your paper. Fill this section up because it's much easier to omit it from your schedule than to squeeze it in. Don't worry about being too detailed with the descriptions. These are just reference points in your day to keep you on schedule. Your experience will take over when it comes time to implement individual steps that need to be performed.
Once you have alls the things, start developing your schedule by placing your Top 3 priority items into place. I actually start with things that really shouldn't change. That might be an on-time lunch, hard out, etc. and then fill in the Priority items based on the order they need to be done. Once you have the core tasks laid out, start filling in the gaps with the other tasks from the brain dump section. After a quick 5 dedicated minutes, you'll discover you've mapped out your entire day. I actually use this piece of paper all the time, even when I'm not on set. It's the only tool I've found that can help me manage my time effectively and not ask myself "where did the time go?" I know exactly where the time went. In fact, composing this article was on my Time Box for today from 3:30-4pm. I'm happy to say I got everything else accomplished and this sentence is being written at 3:51pm. That is how I use my time wisely and I have no doubt it will help anyone else with similar struggles.