Set a timer to set goals.

One of my most useful gizmos is a pretty low-tech device.

I keep a simple kitchen timer on my desk, actually a little electronic one but an old-fashioned wind-up ‘pinger’ would work just as well, I’m sure. Or the timer on your phone.

Its purpose?

Nothing culinary.

It’s simply to help me focus on work (or a chore) if and when my mood has taken a meander downwards.

I don’t know about you but if this happens to me, I can find it pretty darned difficult to knuckle down to things, to focus and be productive.

What might normally take just a few minutes can end up occupying ages.

This is where my trusty timer comes in handy.

I set it for an hour, then promise myself that if I stick to the knitting until it beeps, I’ll take a break when it does so.

And the deal is that I get the break regardless of how much or how little I’ve actually achieved.

Invariably I will get through stuff, probably at a faster rate as the minutes tick away, to be honest.

I think the trick is to recognise that when you’re low, the things you must do can take on a formidable scale if you try to tackle them all in one go.

But break them up into smaller chunks and they can be more easily dealt with.

4 thoughts on “Set a timer to set goals.

  1. Hi! I do something similar but use the radio on my phone. If I have jobs like ironing to do and find I don’t have the energy or enthusiasm to get it all done in one go, I use the catch up facility for the radio plays. Stories are often serialised into 15 minute slots so I tackle the job for 15 minutes with the play as my timer. One episode ends then I have a break then back again to the ironing for another 15 minutes! I also find having the radio on and just listening to the voices is uplifting.

  2. I came across this trick as a technique called pomodoros – from the Italian for tomatoes – after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer the author used to time his work. He suggested 25 minutes, with a five minute break at the end. I used it to help me through admin work when I was a maths and english tutor.
    I love the idea of the radio series above – now I’m retired I’ve got time to do the ironing. 😉

  3. This sounds like a great idea to me! I do chores on a Sunday,(reluctantly), but having a timer to prompt you and keep you focused sounds like it would work for me. Guess what I’ll be doing on Sunday? Thanks for the tip Jon!

  4. Hi,

    I use an app called “Chime me Big Ben”, set for the full quarter hour chimes.

    It really helps to realize that tempus fugit.

    At work, on the hour, I check for messages, and after, try to switch to high value work for at least until the next chime.

    At home, I sit at the computer from half past to the hour doing various tasks: programming, books, email, reading, …

    When the hour chimes, I get up and do something, anything, that gets me moving, just a bit.

    This way, I feel that some of my mountainous task list gets attention, and the switching of activity types allows a better focus when it is time to either return to the previous job, or to continue/start a different one.

    The moving about helps enormously with the stagnation (and butt-rot) that happens if I sit too long.

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