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Why I Live & Die By My Timer

My timer is, without question, the single most effective organizational & productivity tool I own. It helps me overcome the vicious perfectionism/procrastination/overwhelm cycle and stay focused on the task at hand. It’s pretty much my time management BFF. Don’t judge me — this love is REAL. ;)

time management, timer, time management tips

Wondering whether a timer could help you?

Do you…

  • tend to get off track easily?
  • have trouble leaving your house on time?
  • avoid completing certain tasks because you think they’ll take too long?
  • tend to spend too much time working on things because you get sucked into hyper-focused perfectionist mode?
  • have chores that you absolutely hate doing, so you procrastinate & then they turn into overwhelming obstacles?

If so, then maybe it’s time for you to try a few timer tips, too! My timer helps me stay focused when I’m feeling fuzzy, motivates me when I’m feeling lazy, and brings me back down to earth when I’m fixating on unimportant details. It has been a HUGE lifesaver and has helped me finally understand how to manage my time.

If I don’t feel like cleaning, I’ll put the timer on for 5 or 10 minutes & promise myself that I will stop when it’s done. The trick is to stay focused on one area or task. If you put away a few dishes, then stop & start messing with the laundry, and then leave & try to tidy up the bathroom, it won’t feel like you really accomplished anything. Instead, try to pick one small thing & stay focused for a few minutes — you’ll be amazed at the difference.

Benefits of Using a Timer:

  • Helps you understand how long certain tasks actually take, which helps you plan more realistic to-do lists and schedules.
  • When you know that it only takes X minutes to complete a task, then it’s easier to take advantage of downtime throughout the day & use those “wasted” minutes to be productive. (Example: if it takes five minutes for a file to download, you could shred that pile of junk mail while you’re waiting.)
  • Teaches you to break large tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces.
  • Increases your motivation & sense of accomplishment by giving you small milestones to complete.
  • Helps monitor progress as you check off each little milestone.
  • It’s a lot easier to convince yourself to stay focused for five or ten minutes vs. trying to stay on task for two straight hours.
  • It’s also a lot easier to convince yourself to work on tasks you don’t enjoy if you know that you only have to do something for a few minutes. (Like Flylady says, “You can do ANYTHING for fifteen minutes!”)
  • Racing to beat the clock helps you work efficiently & prevents you from spiraling down a rabbit hole of unnecessary perfectionism. (Focus on what matters.)
  • If you tend to lose track of time, working with a timer is a great way to keep yourself aware. If I’m getting ready to leave the house, I will set a timer to remind myself to stay on track. When I look at it, it’s as if it’s reminding me, “No, you don’t need to change into another outfit. Now is NOT the time to test out that new eyeshadow. Just get it done & move on!”
  • You can even turn it into a game. Try to beat your previous record, or race your family members against the clock to see who can put away the most items in five minutes. I can even motivate my hubby to help sometimes if we only have to tidy up for ten minutes. Bonus: two people cleaning for ten minutes is really twenty minutes worth of cleaning!

I used to procrastinate because I thought chores took a lot longer to complete than they really do. It only takes me sixty seconds to make my bed. Two minutes, and my dishes are put away. I can clear off my kitchen island in about five minutes, even when it’s pretty messy.

Things You Can Do in Five Minutes or Less

  • shake out a welcome mat

  • wipe out the bathroom sink

  • toss/shred/recycle junk mail

  • put away dishes

  • swiffer the main entrance

  • dust

  • switch a load of laundry

  • clear off a dresser

  • wipe off the counter

  • use a magic eraser to clean the smudge off a wall

  • plan a meal

  • empty old food from the fridge

  • clear a cluttered staircase

  • wipe down the shower

  • put dirty laundry in the hamper

  • make the bed

  • process a few emails

For more timer tips, check out the Pomodoro technique & the Flylady website. The timers I use throughout the day include my cell phone timer, my microwave, an online timer, and the Flylady timer.

Extra Tip: Before I started blogging, I was an elementary school teacher & I used my timer in the classroom all day long. One of my favorite “tricks” was a two-minute tidy. Whenever we had to line up to go anywhere, I would set my timer for two minutes and have the kids race around picking things up, clearing their desks, etc. They loved it & it was a quick way to keep the room looking tidy all day long!

How do you stay on track? Share your favorite time management tips in the comments!


P.S. I’m sharing this  post at the IHeart Organizing link party monthly mini challenge!

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12 comments on “Why I Live & Die By My Timer
  1. Sharon says:

    I answered ‘yes’ to nearly all the “Do you” questions! I think it is time to incorporate using a timer in my daily life to keep my on track! Great post!

  2. Clara says:

    Just so you know, I literally cried on my way to work today just thinking of all of the tasks I have to do. I haven’t been getting any of them done. This is a lifesaver. I will be using my timer tonight to see how things go. Perfect timing on this post!

    • Casey says:

      Aww!! Clara, I have totally been there, too. Day-to-day life can get so overwhelming, not to mention when you’re going through family emergencies, etc! I still get off track sometimes & struggle with routines, but my timer is always there. When I’m exhausted, I can still convince myself to do two minutes of tidying. (And the key is to CELEBRATE and take a second to feel proud of yourself when you’re finished!!). Good luck!! Definitely check out Flylady’s website, too. Her book, Sink Reflections, is amazing!

  3. Betty @Bacon & Kids says:

    I so needed this post! I’m going out to get a timer today as I have been saying I needed one for far too long. Thanks for the PUSH! Wishing you a fantastic Monday!

  4. Sandy says:

    I answered “yes” to almost all of those questions. I procrastinate and I am also bad about “looking online (e-mail, facebook, blogs, etc.) for just 5 minutes”… which then turns into one hour… two hours, etc. I do this with the kiddos, why not with myself?! Thank you!

    • Casey says:

      Oh man, blogs & Pinterest are sooo tough to put down! I hope this helps! I totally used my timer to help me stay on track online today — time just seems to fly by when I’m on the computer!

  5. Amy says:

    I use my timer all the time! I seriously don’t think I could make it through a day without it. My husband thinks it’s hilarious that I use the official FlyLady timer that says, “You can do anything for 15 minutes,” but mine is constantly set for 5:00 minutes. :) Sometimes that’s all I can do…
    But I really do use it for everything–web surfing, cleaning, working. It’s a total lifesaver!

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