Timeboxing and Artifact Making
Right smack in the middle of this video is some solid working-style advice. When I’m truly stuck, I use it. Chunking my day up into blocks, taking out my cellphone and timing those blocks and *not cheating* really helps. The pomodoro technique is one way to do it (there are tons of smartphone apps to help!) But when I’m designing workshops for others to go through I timebox even more assiduously. I’ll break a 2 hour workshop into 5 minute chunks in an excel document I use to track and sum up the time blocks so I know it all adds up. And with each chunk, I ask myself what each person and team will be making, seeing or sharing at each inflection point. That’s one reason why we make so many worksheets here at Design Gym central…getting people to write down their insights on paper can help create clarity and consensus where it seemed impossible a few minutes before. When teams have done their initial research phase and have taken the time to organize and visualize what it all means, we ask people to take a step back and fill out an “insights mad lib”
We thought _______ But we saw _______ Now we realize _____
I’ve used a few variations on that over time, depending on my mood and the goals of the exercise. Often I’ll ask teams to add a visual diagram of their insight. The point is, teams feel all over the place, like they need more time to agree on what they really learned. But when I ask them to sit down and work alone for 5 minutes on their own insights, when they share them out to each other, there is always amazing overlap. Taking the time to timebox and create an artifact will always move the conversation forward and help us see where we are. More time to think and talk seems like a great idea, but taking time to make things is essential.