Recently I have been using a timer to keep me focused on tasks. For example, currently my timer is set for 30-minutes, and the only thing I will do during that 30-minutes is write. I have shorter timers for other things like reading and longer timers for things like working out.

What I am discovering is how much more focused I can be when I set a timer and say to myself, “I will do nothing else during this time other than this task.” I know, it’s obvious why this works, I just can’t believe I didn’t do it before.When I set a timer and focus intently on a task a few things happen:

  1. Time seems to slow down. I don’t feel rushed, at all. I feel like I have enough time to think.
  2. I’m significantly more productive. Yesterday in between meetings I set some timers and knocked out some of my most important tasks for the day. Then something weird happened. I had a window of about 10-minutes before a meeting where I had nothing to do. I was fully caught up, during the work day! Can you imagine?
  3. I produce better things. Whether I’m writing a blog post, recording a podcast or just responding to email. When I am doing those things fully distraction free (with complete focus) what I produce is of much higher quality.

My encouragement is to give it a shot. Choose a task you know you need to do, but may not want to do. Set a timer for 20-minutes and commit to doing nothing but that one task for that time. I think you will get a lot more done than you think and you will experience some of what I’m experiencing as well.