This is a proven technique to create more efficient study sessions. The key is to work for a fixed period of time, then rest for a further (much smaller) period of time. The standard “timebox” is 25 minutes of work and then 5 minutes of rest, but we encourage you to experiment:
Why do timeboxing?
It vastly increases the actual productive time. 1 hour turns into 50 minutes of productive focus. Considering that distractions of modern life, that ratio is excellent.
- During Study time, DO NOT BE DISTRACTED. That’s what breaks are for.
- Don’t Study through breaks. The breaks allow your brain a chance to process the info.
- Use the 2-minute break for whatever you want, check your texts, e-mail, whatever. What, you can’t focus for ten minutes? (Psychological Motivation).
Anki Has a Timeboxing Feature: -ANKI -> Preferences -> Basic -> Timebox Time Limit.
TIMEBOXING APP: Zen Timer
Different forms of timeboxing to experiment with
#1 Dual TimeboxingTimer 1:
Overall study time you intend for a sitting. You want to have it set to end when you have to go do be somewhere. E.g. 2 hours, 1 hour, 30 minutes, 10 minutes
Timer 2: Shorter Intervals, usually in seconds. E.g. 120 secs, 90, 60, 30
Every time a small timebox from Timer 2 ends, switch activities, maybe switching from reading one book to another, switching SRS decks, or switching to different types of media. Occasionally make one of the Timer 2 timeboxes a break.
Why try dual timeboxing?
Being aware of how much time you actually worked (or plan to work) is very useful, so this is the role of Timer 1. It stops you from needing to think about adding up all the small timeboxes of Timer 2. Takes advantage of our desire to do things in short bursts, feels more like a game and less like “2 hours to work on [insert large abstract task here]”
#2 Decremental and Incremental Timeboxing
With Decremental timeboxing, the time periods get smaller and smaller, with incremental timeboxing, they get bigger and bigger.
Why try decremental timeboxing?
Anybody’s energy levels and focus over a long enough period of time will start to fade, but it doesn’t suddenly go from 100% to 0%, so this is about still getting some focus as your energy starts to fade. Creating a feeling that “its going to end soon” makes us work better.
Why try incremental timeboxing?
Some tasks feel like they need a bit of a warm up to get started. Hey, the first timebox is only 1 minute right? Who can’t do one minute?
#3 Incremental-Decremental Mix
Follow your feeling, continue until you feel tired and consider that your “peak”, then start to decrease
Why mixed timeboxing?
Mixed timeboxing allows you to build up at first but then recognize that you will eventually lose energy, so get the most out of your waning focus.