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23 Jun

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

Datum: 2010-06-23 09:32

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?