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23 Jun

How two egg-timers make you focus on the right thing


Date: 2010-06-23 09:32 Comments: 0 st

You know how it is. You’ve got a task you really need to get done right now, but you keep getting distracted by other things.??

Maybe you have writer’s block or think the task is so boring that you find it hard to work focused with it. You check your e-mail, flip though Facebook, call someone just for fun, you go and get another cup of coffee and happen to hang around the coffee machine for a while and small talk, read an online newspaper, Google something you’ve come to think about, and so on.??
You do anything except what you actually know is the right thing to do right now.??

Now you are going to learn a trick that has worked for me every time, when I found myself in similar situations.

??It’s called “(10+2)* 5”.

This is what you need

Get two standard egg timers. If it’s easy to change the countdown time on the timer you’ll only need one, but you’ll succeed better if you have two timers.?? An alternative to a physical egg timer is a small timer-program on your computer, such as the widget “Tea Timer”, which you can find here.

Do this

  1. The next time you are going to do something that feels hard, tiresome, kills your spirit, provokes performance anxiety, and that you simply don’t want to work with, set the alarm on one of the timer to ten minutes and the other timer to two minutes.
  2. Start the ten minute-timer and start working.
  3. When it rings, stop working immediately and turn on the two-minute timer.
  4. Now do what you would really rather want do for two minutes, what you want to do just for fun. Surf on the Internet, lean back and sleep for two minutes, check something on YouTube or whatever you want, anything except working with whatever you didn’t want to do. This is important. If there is any time you have to be your own stern boss, this is the time. The two minutes should be enjoyable and ‘‘useless’‘.
  5. When the alarm rings and two minutes have passed, turn on the ten-minute timer again and work for another ten minutes.
  6. Take a two minute break and continue like this.
  7. ?
  8. After five “10+2”-rounds you have worked focused for fifty minutes and rested for ten. Presumably you’ve gotten more done in that hour than you would have otherwise.

An unexpected but welcomed effect

As I mentioned earlier, I often use this technique to get going when I’m feeling slow-started. What is funny though, is that I have never actually done five “10+2”-rounds in a row. Approximately when I’m about to take a break for the third time, I notice that I’ve become somewhat disappointed that ten minutes have already passed and that I would prefer to continue working on what I’ve finally got going with.?? So be it, my goal is achieved - I have gotten started with doing what is just the right thing to work with right now.

How did it work for you?

If you try the “(10+2)* 5”- technique, please comment below and tell us how it worked for you.

Did it become easier? Wasn’t it your thing? How do you handle these situations instead?

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