am taking two weeks off from blogging. Enjoy this article from the archive! This article was originally published on 19 July 2007.
I am a great believer in doing things in concentrated bits. A few years ago, right after I found Flylady, I tried her timer method. Her mantra of “You can do anything for 15 minutes” hit a sore spot one day and I decided to prove her wrong — that cleaning the dining room would take way longer than 15 minutes, and it would definitely kill me to do it.
I was wrong. I set a timer, and managed to knock out all the cleaning tasks in the dining room with 2 minutes to spare. Since then I have been a great believer in timers and timed bursts of activity, where I focus on one thing.
I ran across The Power of 10 Minutes over at LifeDev, and I decided to come clean with my secret methodology. Glen believes in 10, I still like 15. But I also think the length of the time depends on the person. Some may work best at 20, others at 5. And there have been days when I have done 5 minute sessions because I just could not stay on track.
Here is the basis for my method: I set the timer for 15 minutes and I tell myself I will stop after 15 minutes. The catch is I have to work at the task at hand for the time, and not get distracted. When the timer goes off, I assess what I have accomplished. Usually, I will either have completed the whole of the task with time to spare, or in the case of larger things, I will have completed a lot more than I expected.
The key is using a timer, and stopping for a break when it goes off. Just looking at a clock won’t work. The timer doesn’t lie. I have timers everywhere: three or four portable beeping ones around the house (yes, there is one next to my computer, to limit surfing), one on my PC that I programmed myself, and a couple on my iPod. So I always have one with me.
If you are having trouble getting something started or think something is too big to tackle, set a timer and try out the method. I will guess you will be very pleasantly surprised with the results.
Photo by Seth Tisue