Featured Productivity Tool: 5 Ways to Use a Timer for Success

It's a brand new year. And you are determined to start - or finish - one (or more) of your writing projects. Success is top-of-mind. But how do you set yourself up for success? 

To help you start your year off right, I am sharing one of my favorite productivity tools, as well as some of the best ways to use it: A Timer!

You can get a lot done in focused blocks of time. That's the beauty of setting a timer ... you don’t even need to keep an eye on the clock. Concentrate fully on your work. Then, when your timer goes off, finish what you’re doing, and move on to the next thing. 

Here are Five Ways to Use a Timer to Increase your Productivity 

1. Block Time. Look at your calendar and block time to creative or project-time in the form of appointments. This is especially helpful when you have a book or article deadline. But it's also great for prioritizing ongoing commitments. During time blocks, close out your social media, silence your email, put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Then, set a timer so you can give the project at hand your full attention. 

2. Avoid Social Media Tangents. Let’s face it, although important for marketing your business, social media tends to be a time-suck. You log on in the morning to do a couple of things, you get distracted, and the next thing you know, it’s almost noon. Set a timer for your 15-minute social media appointments, so you receive a reminder to not fall into the social media abyss. 

3. Force Inspiration. Every so often you encounter a project that you can’t quite get into. So instead of spending a bit of time to get it started, you avoid it. This results in stress, not to mention a potential failed project. Set a timer for 15 minutes and force yourself to concentrate on what is perplexing you. Then, when the timer goes off, if you’ve figured it out, start your project. If not, take a breath, move on to something else, and try again the following day. At least the project will be in your head, which will make it easier to tackle when you try again. 

4. Take a Break. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day, whether it’s for a walk, a bite to eat, or an online conversation. However, if you are spending your downtime checking your watch or the clock on your smartphone, you are not actually disengaging from work. 

5. Limit Time-Consuming Tasks. This trick works well for emails and phone calls. Set a specific amount of time for something where time can spiral out of control. When the timer goes off, it’s time to wrap it up and move on. 

Final Thoughts 

In the age of technology, everyone has a timer at their fingertips, because their mobile phone is usually no further than an arm’s length away. 

Ready to get things done? Put your phone on silent, turn off your notifications, hit the start button, and you are ready to go. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how much you accomplish in short bursts of time. 

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For more inspiration and motivation, follow @TheDEBMethod on Twitter and Linkedin for your #Start2022Now Goal of the day! 

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How do you use a timer? What's your favorite productivity tool? Please share in the comments.

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Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A writer, editor, and project catalyst, Deb works with entrepreneurs, executives, and creatives to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women's National Book Association; host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


Terry Whalin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry Whalin said...


Thank you for these varied and interesting ways to use a timer to propel our writing forward in the days ahead (something I've not done but will be trying in the days ahead).

With Gratitude,

author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition)

Karen Cioffi said...

Debra, thanks for these tips on using a timer to help with our writing productivity. I use a timer for a number of things, but haven't used it for work yet. I'll definitely start including it.

lastpg said...

These are great ideas, Debra. I've used my kitchen timer to see-saw between writing work and non-writing responsibilities. I like it because the ticking reminds me that I have to stay on task. I've only done this when I'm pressed for time. Your post has given me new insights on the amount of time I spend on emails, social media, etc. vs actual writing time. You're so right, it's hard to break away from the former and I struggle with this every day. I will try your ideas and see if I can become more productive in both aspects of my work, getting the word out about my books and my current writing projects. Thanks for such helpful advice!

deborah lyn said...

Love your suggestions, Debra!
Social Media for 15 minutes--great tip, but goes by oh-so fast!
I also love Blocked Time appointments and Forced Inspiration. When I leave something out & ready to keep going, it's easier to get started. Like baiting myself...

Debra Eckerling said...

Thanks for your comment, Terry. Let me know how it goes! - Deb

Debra Eckerling said...

Awesome. Thanks, Karen!

Debra Eckerling said...

Happy to hear it, lastpg. Always happy to connect with others who love timers as much as I do. Good luck, Deb

Debra Eckerling said...

Exactly, Deborah! Thanks for your comment. Happy Timing! - Deb

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By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin) In 2007, America’s Publicist Rick Frishman invited me to participate on the faculty of MegaBook Marketing Uni...