One of my articles has been published! In a fairly obscure e-magazine called Soda Lime Time, a monthly magazine for lampworkers. Anyway I submitted an article, it was accepted, and it was published in this month’s issue. It’s not specifically related to lampworking, so I am republishing it here.

My Timer Driven Life

The published article!

My Timer-Driven Life
There are two things that I struggle with on a daily basis. One is inefficiency in how I work (spending too much time doing “research” on the internet is a killer). The other is procrastination: I’m really good at putting off the stuff that I really don’t like doing (book-keeping! sales!). Then, there are certain things that I love doing too much (sitting at the torch and melting glass comes to mind) and I neglect all the other stuff.

If this sounds familiar to you, then I have a simple and effective “Time Management” tip that has changed both the way I work, and my attitude to work.

Over the past few months I have been dividing my time into 30 minute chunks. First I figure out what I want to achieve in the 30 minutes, then I start a timer. All of a sudden instead of thinking, “Oh how I hate this job”, I start thinking one of two things, “Oh, 30 minutes isn’t so long, I might as well just make a start,” or, “I’ve only 30 minutes to do this, so I’d better hurry up.” And before I know it, 30 minutes has passed, and I’ve usually achieved something tangible.

Sometimes 30 minutes isn’t enough. When the timer goes off I will complete the job if I’m almost finished, or I simply restart the timer, so that I have another 30 minutes. Other times I will cycle between tasks, spending 30 minutes on each*.

As a result, I tend to get less distracted by something that looks interesting: “No, I’ll do that later, after this 30 minutes.” And, as improbable as it sounds, a timer-driven life is also more relaxed. Once the timer is on I don’t have to think about all the other millions of things on my To Do list. Instead, I’m free for 30 minutes to concentrate on this one task.

A side-effect to my timer-driven life is that I’m getting a lot more organised. At the beginning of a work day I write down all the things that I want to achieve that day, determine which are the most important, and collect them together into blocks that I think will be manageable within 30 minutes.

I use this technique to organise my non-torching tasks, but I’ve also been torching to a timer. I’ve been wanting to make colour samples for ages; so, I recently started devoting the first half hour of a day at the torch to this task. I also tend to get too fixated on making one particular thing, but now I’m free to fixate for 30 minutes, and then I give myself the opportunity to think about doing something else. Or not. But it’s a conscious decision, instead of drifting along making 20 beads when I only needed 5. And most important, I also remember to take breaks, usually after 2 or 3 timer cycles.

Okay, as you can see, I’m pretty happy with my new working method! If you think 30 minutes is too long or too short, then try 15-minute or 60-minute chunks. A Timer-Driven Life is simple and effective. Try it!

(*) This is a variant on the “Procrastination Hack” described at 43 Folders: http://www.43folders.com/2005/10/11/procrastination-hack-1025


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