The Egg Timer - Secret Productivity Tool

6 years ago


The egg timer has been a permanent fixture in my home since I was a kid. My mother had a white one with black numbers to keep track of her cooking. She kept using the same one for a long time, even after it melted slightly when it was accidentally left too close to a burner.  Now timers are everywhere. Even my iPhone has one. But I still like my old fashioned timer. The kind you turn for however long you want and that makes an almost annoying ticking as each minute disappears into the ether.

I have two. They are both in the shape of an apple. The one in the kitchen is green and the one on my desk is red.

Yes there is a timer on my desk. It is my secret weapon for anyone working for themselves and juggling several projects. Or for that matter anyone who is trying to monitor their Facebook and Twitter time.

Here's how I've been using it lately.

I have a lot on my plate, every one with its own set of deadlines, from my upcoming webinar, to coaching clients, my book proposal, preparing for my June self publishing debut and a consulting project. They all need a portion of my day.  Uninterrupted. No phone calls. No TV breaks.

I decide in advance, either the night before or in the morning,  how much time I need to devote to each. Then I set the timer. An hour of writing. An hour for the consulting project. A half hour of phone calls. A half hour for emails and social networks. You get it. I don't stop until the timer goes off which coincidentally has been about the time I feel I have made some progress. I schedule in my breaks too, which lately have involved a lot of dancing to loud music.

When you are in an office, someone is usually standing over you or at least their energy is, reminding you of what you are supposed to be doing and invariably measuring your progress.

But when you work for yourself, you have only you and in my case, an egg timer.

How do you self monitor when you have a lot going on?
Have you tried the egg timer trick or do you have one of your own?


Credit Image: hickr via Flickr

Joanne Tombrakos is a writer, coach and speaker. She blogs on living and working after Corporate America at

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