Thursday, November 1, 2007

Race Against Time

We've talked about this problem I have, the problem of procrastinating by figuring out how to do other work more efficiently. But my friends, the problem has finally solved itself. It's come full circle. It's self-destructed.
Minuteur! For all your timing needs.

Because I was thinking about this idea of "timed dashes." Merlin Mann's "(10+2)*5" hack comes immediately to mind—the one where you set a timer for 10 minute intervals of work, followed by 2 minutes of play, and repeat 5 times. You've just worked a 50-minute hour! Which is much, much better than the 5-minute hour. Or the, "I just got the urge to reply to every e-mail thread on every list I'm on!" hour. Or the "pressing random on xkcd is just so fascinating!" hour. (I've had a few of those lately. We'll talk about that soon.)

So Merlin's format is charmingly geeky, and his article about (10+2)*5 isn't bad either, and I love 43folders and all, but the idea of timed dashes isn't great because it's new. It's great because it works. Which, coincidentally, is quite possibly the BEST JUSTIFICATION FOR A LIFEHACK EVER.

I've been using a variation on the timed dashes method for the past few days, and already, I see a huge difference in the way I work. 15 minutes on, 5 minutes off. It helps me from falling down the endless rabbit hole of e-mail, for one thing. And all of a sudden, my work seems much less scary, because it doesn't come in hours. It comes in adrenaline-soaked dashes! Much more fun.

I've been trying to use the least gadget-tastic timer possible, which so far has meant Online Stopwatch. It's exactly what it claims to be, and does not have lots of fun menus and tags, and I can appreciate that. However, in the process of re-reading Merlin Mann's post, I also came across this great little Mac app, Minuteur, pictured above. It's very cute, still pretty low on the gadget appeal, and also will enable me to finally shut my browser windows.

I would write more, but the timer rang a while ago. I mean. My hands are tied.

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