One of my favorite productivity strategies is to set a timer and see how much I can get done before a buzzer sounds. I used to keep a timer from my days as a high school debater on my desk. It had a magnet on the back, and I just stuck it to my bulletin board when it wasn’t in use.
Then, I dropped my timer and the digital face distorted to only read 88:88. The thing was close to 20 years old, so I couldn’t be too upset that the $4 piece of equipment had failed.
To replace my beloved timer, I decided to download a program called Alarm Clock 2 by Robbie Hanson for my Mac. (A comparable program for the PC is XNote Stopwatch and you can find a review of the program on Texas-based professional organizer Lorie Marrero’s blog.) I chose Alarm Clock 2 because it is free to download and it does everything I want it to do.
There is an alarm feature (which I use to remind me to break for lunch), a timer (to help me stay focused on a task), and a stopwatch (to help me keep track of how I’m spending my time). I like that I can set the alarms and buzzers to be songs from my iTunes folder, and that I can have them change volume based on how long they have been “ringing.”
If you haven’t used a timer before to help you with your productivity, I highly recommend using one. After lunch, when my energy level takes a nose dive, I like to set the timer for 10 minutes and see if I can finish all of my filing before the music starts playing. I also set a timer during phone calls to help me stay on topic and keep the business call to under 15 minutes. I also like to make sure that I’m spending the majority of my day (close to 80 percent) behind my desk completing important tasks that help me to advance my goals. I know that I’m procrastinating or avoiding the big-picture items when less-important tasks start filling more than 20 percent of my work day.
Do you use a computer-based timer to help you be more productive? What program do you use and why do you like it? Share your experiences in the comments.