Session Box

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I draw a lot of diagrams. With all these diagrams there are an endless number of revisions and refinements created in the process. Some of the changes are necessary while others are definitely not earth-shattering.


In time management, timeboxing allocates a fixed time period, called a time box, to each planned activity. It is also used for individual use to address personal tasks in a smaller time frame.

Although timeboxing is a great idea it doesn’t always work when producing architecture. The architecture thinking process isn’t always like brainstorming where you have to limit the flow of ideas. So with traditional timeboxing you might end up with an incomplete idea.

Session Boxing

Sometimes you don’t need a small increment of time to be forced to produce an item. What you might need is a limited number of times working on the problem instead. You can force yourself to limit the number of thinking sessions to produce the product. This is a different approach than timeboxing. Timeboxing limits the time in a single session and usually means you only spend a single session on a product.

Session Boxing, on the other hand, gives you more time but sets a limit on the number of sessions you may spend working.


Architecture can be methodical. It can be detailed. It can be spontaneous and inspirational. Most of all architecture ideas can be endless like an avalanche pouring down a mountain1.

By limiting the number of sessions you spend with your ideas you have plenty of time to think through related topics whether it comes about consciously or subconsciously.

The Method

The easiest way is to place a session number on your products. You can count up or count down as long as you have a consistent method. I prefer counting down, so when I get to the zeroth session I have to publish something. The earlier sessions give me the freedom to go out to the edges and explore relationships that I may throw out later.

The number of sessions you set depends on how often you come back to your product. Be consistent in your limits so you might develop a rhythm in how you think. By setting a limit of five sessions you will begin to organize and prioritize differently. Unlike timeboxing each session should not be a frantic rush to toss boxes and lines on a PowerPoint slide2.

So next time instead of setting a timer try limiting your editing sessions. It ight be a better path for producing a better product with less waste.

  1. Yes, those are lyrics straight from a song ↩︎

  2. PowerPoint is a certified architecture tool ↩︎