My favorite productivity tool is a timer. You can get a lot done in focused blocks of time. That means no email, no distractions, nada. You don’t even need to keep an eye on the clock. Concentrate fully on your work. Then, when your timer goes off, finish what you’re doing, and move on to the next thing.
Here are five ways to use a timer to increase your productivity.
- Force Inspiration. Every so often you encounter a project that you can’t quite get into so instead of spending a bit of time to get it started, you avoid it. This results in stress, not to mention a potential failed project. Set a timer for 15 minutes and force yourself to concentrate on what is perplexing you. Then, when the timer goes off, if you’ve figured it out, start your project. If not, take a breath, move onto something else, and try again the following day. At least the project will be in your head, which will make it easier to tackle when you try again.
- Block Time. I previously wrote about the value of scheduling appointments with yourself to get things done. During these time blocks, set a timer so you can give everything on the docket your full attention.
- Avoid Social Media Tangents. Let’s face it, although important for marketing your business, social media tends to be a time-suck. You log on in the morning to do a couple of things, you get distracted, and the next thing you know, it’s almost noon. Set a timer for your 15-minute social media appointments, so you receive a reminder to not fall into the social media abyss.
- Take a Break. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day, whether it’s for a walk, a bite to eat, or a water-cooler or online conversation. However, if you are spending your down time checking your watch or the clock on your smartphone, are you actually disengaging from work?
- Limit Time-Consuming Tasks. This trick works well for emails and phone calls. Set a specific amount of time for something where time can spiral out of control. When the timer goes off, it’s time to wrap it up and move on.
In the age of technology, just about everyone has a timer at their fingertips, because their mobile phone is usually no further than an arm’s length away. Put your phone on silent, turn off your notifications, hit the start button, and you are ready to go.
Debra Eckerling is the founder of WriteOnOnline.com, a website and community for writers, and author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog. A Project Catalyst, Debra works with individuals and small businesses to strategize, set goals, and manage their projects.