‘Why wouldn't you?’ - Marc Zao-Sanders explains timeboxing and its benefits 

Virgin Radio

8 Jan 2024, 12:45

Marc Zao-Sanders talks to Chris Evans at Virgin Radio

Tech CEO and writer Marc Zao-Sanders visited Virgin Radio to talk about his upcoming new book, Timeboxing: The Power of Doing One Thing at a Time.

The book is released this Thursday, 11th January. Joining the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch, Marc explained that some years ago he read an article by Daniel Markowitz in the Harvard Business Review which described the benefits of migrating to-do lists into calendars. “I was pretty disorganised at the time, I really wasn't getting stuff done. My performance wasn't very high. I read this article from him, and it's not often that you can read seven, eight hundred words - it's a short article - and it actually changes your life.” 

He added: “I just started doing it religiously. Did that for five years. Then I had a few adaptations and improvements that I wanted to bring to the world.” 

In 2018, he wrote his own article on timeboxing for the Harvard Business Review. it remained on the most popular list for several years, and was also turned into a TikTok with over 10 million views. Now, his new book is set to land.

Speaking about timeboxing - which, put simply, is essentially setting a fixed amount of time in your calendar for a particular task - he told Chris: “Timeboxing is a habit that leads to just anything else. You've had a bunch of people on the show recently talking about very important things, like nutrition, like journaling. You had Arnie on, talking about, amongst other things, exercise. But if you timebox, it’s even more fundamental, because you're feeding any of those habits, because it's time."

The co-founder of filtered.com, a learning tech company, continued: “The main thing for me is the ‘when’. When are you going to do this thing that you've deemed to be important? Don’t just say you're going to exercise more. When exactly are you going to do it? And then once you've decided that, well, how are you going to make sure that you do it? Put in your calendar. Timeboxing.”

The book is divided into four parts. Marc told Chris: “The first is just believing that this is something that can work. And there's loads of evidence in the book and there's all the benefits that are laid out. But I mean, really, we're human beings with agency and intelligence. If you say you're going to do something at a certain time, in general, you should be able to do it, and you're gonna get it done.

“Then, planning. For me it's 15 minutes. I start my day, literally the first two things I do, I get dressed and brush my teeth, but straight after that it's 15 minutes of timeboxing and then that governs the next 15 hours of my life. 

“You make much better decisions in that 15 minutes of quiet when you’re not hurried and harried."

On part three, he said: “Then there's doing it. And the main thing in doing the timebox is not to be distracted and derailed by something that something else that comes up. 

“And then the last one is to own it and turn it into a habit that's actually going to be with you.  Because obviously if you timebox for a week, that's not gonna really help your life. You need it to be embedded in the everyday.”

He added: “Most of us have a digital calendar that we run already. So it's not like you've got to foist some new habit or some new behaviour on yourself. You're already doing it. So the benefits of all of these, the cost is tiny, because you're already doing it. Why wouldn't you be timeboxing?” 

Marc told Chris: “When I've had a successfully timeboxed day, and then I've actually implemented all of those plans, it feels really good. And then looking back at it, you feel some sense of pride, achievement, like. ‘This was the day that I intended’. And that's actually all you can control in life. When people say, ‘I had a really good day, I bumped into such and such,’ or ‘I fell in love’. Okay, that's great, that is an amazing day, but it's not an amazing day that you can replicate on a consistent basis. The only amazing day that you can replicate on a consistent basis is setting your intentions and implementing them.”

Timeboxing: The Power of Doing One Thing at a Time is released this Thursday 11th January.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.