We all likely have more to do than we will ever have time to accomplish. But using this really simple tool, you can get more done.
Timers are not just for the Thanksgiving turkey. They were created to take on the task of alerting you when a particular time frame has passed, so you can do other things. Whether you use the microwave, egg timer, or cell phone, using a timer can facilitate limits, progress, and reward.
Time is not unlimited and Parkinson’s law states that “work expands to fit the time allowed.” So, set a limit and be okay with walking away at the sound of the buzzer. This works very well for me when dealing with things that could go on infinitely, like social media. This is also great for limiting story time (no more “just one more story”), monitoring video game time, and helping with routine and structure.
Timers can encourage you to allocate a set amount of time to spend on a neglected or dreaded task. For me, I try to dedicate 15 minutes each day to de-cluttering and finding things to donate. When I have an overwhelming project, I also like to dedicate 10-15 minutes toward it, each day.
When you need to get something done, set the timer for somewhere between 10-30 minutes, depending on your child’s age. This gives them a definite end time that you will be done. Then, you can promise that you will spend a certain amount of time with them doing their chosen task.
I split up work tasks and projects into 15 minute chunks. I don’t always finish the entire project, but I make progress. You can alternate between tasks or divide steps into these chunks, while working on the same project.
My washing machine’s cycle takes 18 minutes (yes, I timed it) from the time I start the water to the second rinse. I stop the machine to shorten the load’s cycle time, so I can hang clothes I normally don’t dry. I do the same with the dryer to prevent wrinkled clothes.
Multi-task While Cooking
If you’re anything like me, you need a reminder to get the pot off the stove or the pan out of the oven. Rarely do I stay in or near the kitchen to remind me that I am cooking. I have usually moved on to something else.
It creates a sense of excitement when I can say “I’ll be finished with this task in ___ minutes.” If I don’t finish, I’m still encouraged by progress I have made.
Other Timer Ideas
- Pomodoro Technique :: A cycle of completing 25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break.
- Timeboxing :: A scheduling or task management tactic to allocate a fixed amount of time to a task.
- Baby steps – make it a tiny habit :: Picking the smallest amount of time to perform a task with the lowest possibility of failure.
These are my favorite ways to get more things done using a simple timer.