Use to “timebox” tasks

Earlier this year (“Stop the thieves of time“), I wrote about using a “Pomodoro” timer to stop yourself from getting distracted. (In case you don’t want to read the original post, the idea is to set a timer for 25 minutes while you intensely focus on a task. The website is easy to use and uncluttered.)

Another use for any of these “Pomodoro”-style timers is to limit the amount of time you spend on something that’s unpleasant or possibly unproductive. Tasks like this could include:

  • Over-perfecting something. For example, I needed to create a sample image to use in the previous tip. I’ve got a strong graphic design background, so I was tempted to waste time fussing with it. Before I started, I set a timer for 10 minutes. Knowing that my time was limited, I finished the image in 9:57.
  • Answering unimportant email. This task can be a real time-sink. Set a fixed amount of time to accomplish this task and you’ll get some of your day back.