My New BFF: The Timer

use a timer to avoid distractions

I think I have ADD. I’ll start on a short project, like doing laundry, and thirty minutes later find myself scrolling through Instagram leaning against an empty washing machine next to my pile of dirty clothes. It’s also a bad habit at work. I’ll set out to work on a project and then I get distracted by an email or a coworker stops by to chat, and next thing I know it’s 4pm and the seemlingly short project still isn’t done.

I blame this self-diagnosed ADD on too much coffee. Or the holidays, they threw me out of whack. But the truth is — we are just distracted beings. And these days there is just so much to distract us, our phones alone can be such time-sucks.

A couple of weeks ago I started using a timer to get these distractions under control. I set it on my phone (and turn the phone over to avoid any pop-ups) and during that alloted time, I don’t work on anything else but the task at hand. In the office, I avoid all emails if I’m trying to finish a project or write an article. Or sometimes I’ll do nothing but answer emails during that time. When the timer goes off, I’ll take a short break and walk around the office, get a cup of water, grab a snack, or take a quick glance at my phone for personal email. Then I’ll map out what I want to accomplish next and go back for another hour or so of uninterrupted time.

At home, I do the same thing, especially on the weekends when I want to maxmize my productive and relaxing time. I’ll set a timer if there’s a specific project I want to get done, like filing my tax information, clean out my closet, or blogging. Writing blog posts are one of the most distracting times for me, actually, and a timer has really helped multiply that time. (I’ve got a timer going on right now — no distractions until this is finished!:)

It may seem like an intense exercise, but for me it’s been so helpful in managing my time and getting things done.

I’d love to hear: Have you ever used a timer for tasks? Do you have any other tips for avoiding distractions and maintaining a productive work or home life?