For the past two months, I’ve been setting my phone on a 15-minute timer as a way of increasing my productivity and time management.
I’m amazed how well it’s worked. I’ve been more focused, productive, and aware of how long I’ve spent on tasks or projects. It’s also made me wonder if I’m becoming some deranged Batman villain obsessed with time (enter Clock King). Here’s what I’ve discovered:
1. Most tasks take under 15 minutes.
This has been the biggest surprise. I used to lament that any task would take me “forever”. Of course I had no way of verifying how long it actually took to do anything.
I’ve now found that I can knock out tons of little tasks in just a few minutes. An email, a file reformat, a few copy adjustments combined can be done in less than 15 minutes. Before, I was so genuinely annoyed with these tasks that instead of starting I would check Twitter. Then Facebook. Then walk around my office. Then stare out the window. You get my drift.
Getting little tasks done is encouraging. It feels good to actually finish tasks, which helps me be more productive and look forward to finishing off more. Doing something for 15-minutes doesn’t sound too bad. And I no longer believe it will take an hour to iron a shirt because I use this tactic with personal tasks, too.
2. Ease in switching from one project to another.
The ring of my 15-minute timer is Pavlovian in its ability to help me switch from one project to a different unrelated project. It’s almost like a compartmentalization device for my brain.
I have 3 jobs: consultant, CMO, and pastor. Because of this, I actually stopped using a to-do list. Seeing that monstrous list everyday overwhelmed me.
The timer has helped me leave one project and move onto another. I can chip away at a design, chip away at a sermon, then talk with a consulting client. I’ve found it better to give a good 15-minutes to a project than 45-minutes of unfocused work. Since I like variety, the timer is a great tool for my line of work.
3. Less mental strain.
When the timer rings, I either keep working or disengage. If I’m in the flow, I reset the timer and do another fifteen. If I feel like I’m walking through mud, the timer helps me take a few steps through the mud until I hit my next break. Something is better than nothing.
I love my job(s) but every profession has tasks we hate doing. This trick helps me tackle them in bite-sized pieces and not get mentally or creatively overdrawn. Sometimes I’ll do four 15-minute sessions (one hour) on one project, but it’s a quality one hour. It’s amazing how well this has helped my focus and time management.
It’s Monday. Give this a try, you might be amazed at the results. FYI, it took me 30 minutes to write this post, according to my timer.
Question: Share your results below! Did it work for you? Yes? No?
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