Timer turned out to be one of my best productivity tools.
A timer is a specialized clock used for measuring specific time intervals. If you believe in time blocking1 (or time boxing) as a time management method, you will love timers, along with the calendar scheduling method.
Set a timer to work on a specific task for a predetermined time – helping break work into focused intervals, promoting better concentration, and preventing burnout. This technique is popularly known as the Pomodoro Technique2.
Timers have had their place in the kitchen for a long, long time. It can ensure that cooking and meal preparation are well-timed. Timing prevents overcooking, burning, and helps you manage your time efficiently when cooking multiple dishes.
Allocate a specific time for browsing social media or other distracting activities. When the timer goes off, it’s a signal to refocus on more important tasks. For instance, I do not want to get sucked into a Rabbit Hole3 while reading Hackernews. I like setting a timer of about 25 minutes per session to kick me out when the timer ends.
One of the most-used complications on my watch is the timer. I also like having a physical hourglass on my study table. The hourglass helps me with a Pomodoro-ish technique without that hard and loud stop alarms. It reminds me of the passage of the sands of time but gives me the freedom to break or push a tad more to finish the task at hand. I love having a few types of mechanical Kitchen Timers lying around.
It must be noted that you don’t have to be timing everything every time. Use a timer when you want to time a task to ensure it ends when it should.
Control your schedule so it doesn’t control you. Time blocking (and its close cousins time boxing, task batching, and day theming) is a simple, yet effective way to take back control of your workday. ↩
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It uses a kitchen timer to break work into intervals, typically 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a pomodoro, from the Italian word for tomato, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Cirillo used as a university student. ↩
Used especially in the phrase going down the rabbit hole or falling down the rabbit hole, a rabbit hole is a metaphor for something that transports someone into a wonderfully (or troublingly) surreal state or situation. On the internet, a rabbit hole frequently refers to an extremely engrossing and time-consuming topic. ↩