On Productivity and Timers

You know how some people are actually more productive when they have more to do and less time to do it?  I used to be that way, but I think that I lost it.  I thought that I had lost it the way that you lose something like bike riding, where you can pick it right up again after a long period of absence.  But I think that I’ve lost it the way that you lose a foreign language when you don’t use it regularly, where you kind of remember the basics but generally forget how it works.

I used to be one of those more productive people in college.  My senior year I was taking a full load of classes between 2 different universities, working a combined 33 hours at 2 different jobs, playing soccer 5-6 days a week, planning a wedding in a different city, going to the gym 3 days per week, and still managing to hang out with my friends and fiancé.  I had good grades and also slept periodically.  So recently I have been trying to channel my 22 year old self, but I just don’t remember how I did it.

That said, I am trying to figure out some sort of routine or something that will help me to best use my free time (read, naptime), and conquer the many tasks that I have lined up for myself to take care of in that time.

timerThis is what I am currently resorting to-a timer.  I’m not kidding.  I was inspired by one of those Real Simple articles that was about how to clean a bathroom in 5 minutes, and it occurred to me that I could do it.  If I only give myself 5 minutes to finish the job, then I am less likely to let myself get distracted and will work faster to finish it within that time, right? 

It seems to be working.  The timer forces me to focus on only 1 thing per time slot.  10 minutes for some general house cleanup.  10 minutes for lunch/email checking.  10 minutes for blogging.  10 minutes for project-ing.  10 minutes for picture-downloading/editing.  10 minutes for dinner preparation.  If I only have 10 minutes for this blog, and I want it to actually get posted, then I cannot drift over to facebook.  This is a good thing, right?  The timer forces discipline where I do not have it.

For some of these items, I end up needing more than one 10 minute slot, but I still break it up with something else in between.  This “system” helps me to feel like everything gets at least a little bit of attention: I can take care of whatever thing needs to be dealt with the most, and still have time to dedicate to one of the things that helps me feel re-charged for when Jayce is up again.

Furthermore, this is the current state of things in my little crafty area, which is why I chose to use this 10 minutes for blogging/venting and not making something.2010_03_18_7284

Does anybody else have any tricks to share?  How do you get everything done?

5 thoughts on “On Productivity and Timers

  1. I need some serious help in this area too. It's a hard thing to manage. I try to be wise with nap time but it just doesn't always work out. Time gets away from me quickly and everything seems to take way more time than I think it will. Ugh. It's crazy. I might have to try this timer thing. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh the timer works so great! I cannot get through my day without one and if I do then half of my to-do list does not get done! We use it for homeschooling too, for class time and breaks. At night I use my MOM time for crafting for 20 minutes and then housework for 10 minutes. Not only do I get more done but I spend those 10 minute chunks thinking about my project (while doing housework) so that I avoid the "staring syndrome". Ya know when you stare at a project thinking about what else it needs or what to do next!

  3. This post made me laugh! Reminded me of when I was younger and my parents had to set a timer for me to get the dishes done. I would have worked at snails pace on them until well past bedtime otherwise!

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