I recently acquired a timer (I also just had to think really hard about how to spell acquire, but I digress). In general, prior to this timer, I had a lot of anxiety about timers. I mean hello, after a childhood of torture relating to timed math tests, why would I like timers? My only positive experience with timers is using them for cooking.
And here’s a funny little story about THAT. My father is a chef – with ADHD. When I worked in his kitchen, if you used a timer he would give you endless shit if you used a timer and would insist that you not use one. Well after burning enough food, I finally refused to follow this dictate. If you know how long it takes to cook something and set it a couple minutes early, everything generally turns out fine. And in a kitchen you are always multi-tasking. Asking my brain to remember that many details and keep track of things in the over at the same time was just too much. It gave me a dark, sweet satisfaction when he himself would burn something.
Well I found that there IS a way to make me actually like timers outside of the kitchen: Have a really cute timer. It’s small, it’s blue, it’s shaped like a little bird. I like touching it. I like using it. I don’t use it for everything, but if I have a decent sized pile of things I need to focus on for a little while, I’ve found that I can set my timer to about 20 minutes and stick mostly with the task(s) at hand for that long. The sound of the timer reminds me that I’m supposed to continue working on the task at hand. More than 20 minutes is challenging – less than 20 minutes isn’t really productive because it’s not enough time for me to start and to finish the tasks that I generally need to do. Of course I may have to be flexible with this for longer tasks – and work for a series of 20 minute sessions in order to complete them, and that’s okay. But for most things I need to encourage myself to focus on, this 20 minute discovery is a great place to start.
How about you? Do you use timers to help you manage your time and stay productive? How do you use yours?