Timers are a girl’s best friend

This year, I wanted to focus more on creating. I mulled over what this would entail and decided that to create more would require getting really focused with time management. One of my favorite authors said:

This is the real secret of life: to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” – Alan W. Watts

As someone who freelances and manages my own time, I thought of a simple addition to my week that I knew I could stick to and it has made all the difference:


Here’s how this mindful productivity hack works.

Grab your phone, put it on airplane mode, switch wifi off. Set a timer for specific time increment you can stick with. I suggest starting small, like thirty minutes, or step up & challenge yourself to a full hour – you might surprise yourself.

During that time block, focus all of your attention on one task. For this time, do not check social media or messages, browse your favorite sites or begin a new project. I’m hearing from many people, especially in our smartphone generation, that little distractions can be one of the biggest inhibitors to productivity. The timer method is like a brief, intentional antidote. I found this particularly helpful for the items I had the most resistance to sitting down and getting through.

Also, some mindful tips on dealing with work anxiety:

When fear or feelings of overwhelm creep in, which they probably will, because you’re human, there are a few options. I found that having the timer enabled me to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I would take a quick breath and tell myself to keep going and see what is done at the end of the timer.

A particularly useful tool I found to help subdue negative thoughts is to imagine a character in your mind speaking them to you. For example, when I learned this technique years ago I chose Yoda because he’s lovable and has a unique voice. When those self-defeating thoughts would arise, I imagined him saying them to me, and from that perspective, they became less credible and easier to shake off.

Another quick way to approach anxiety while working is to use affirmations. Pick a simple phrase, like ‘I am a skilled writer’ or ‘I’ve never done this before, but I’ve done things I haven’t done before and it’s been amazing’.. so on and so forth. Take a second to breathe, repeat your affirmation to yourself and feel it from your heart, then carry on from this space.

The timer, along with these simple mindfulness tools, can be a straight-forward and simplifying approach to time management and productivity. I was surprised to see how much more productive I was without the little distractions that quickly consume my time.

I hope this helps!

Let me know if you integrate this into your work routine and what your results are. If you have any suggestions of your own, please share in the comments!




3 thoughts on “Timers are a girl’s best friend

  1. Great read!

    I do this too! 🙂
    Social media eats a ton of my time so I go on airplane mode and just focus on my tasks.
    Music helps me get through the pressure 😉

    I’ll try incorporating the character voice 😀

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience and for the encouragement! I too work from home. I have tried this technique a few times and it works like magic. My thing is being able to keep this practice up! You might be interested in looking up the ‘pomodoro’ techinque. It’s a similar idea and I think you might find it useful!


  3. Such a useful tool. I use 15 minute increments and find even that short period of time to be extremely difficult to maintain in singular focus. My goal is to perform three 15 minute segments of focus a day. Thank you, your sharing has helped me maintain focus on further development of this important habit.

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