Every week I clean my desk. Everything except my keyboard, mouse, and monitor are dumped into a box. Over the week, things that are necessary are put back on my desk and those things still in the box are either disposed of or filed away. It’s a cheap hack to cleaning my desk, and it allows me to reprioritize what takes up real estate on my work area.
One thing that always comes out of the box first is my 15-minute hourglass. Shortly thereafter I bring out my 30-minute hourglass. I find that my hourglasses are imperative to my productivity. They’re useful as I struggle with time management and staying focused. They also fit in perfectly with the Pomodoro method, a popular method of staying focused and productive (there are hourglass sets specifically created for the Pomodoro method).
Why should you use an hourglass?
1. It’s analog: If you like to keep track of how much time you are spending on tasks, you no longer need to rely on digital means. Phones can be a productivity killer. When you’re using your phone or computer to tell time, every popup, beep, buzz, and chime can be a distraction from what you’re trying to accomplish. If you find that your phone is a problem even when you aren’t using it to tell time, try the Forest app (iOS), which grows a tree during the time you stay off your phone. RescueTime is the desktop version that keeps you from wandering to unproductive sites on your computer.
2. It’s portable: Hourglasses come in different shapes and sizes, with some fitting perfectly in a purse or bag to take on the go. I often work outside my home. With a portable hourglass, I can bring the advantages of the timekeeping and the productivity boost along with me.
3. Visual representation - It is a beautiful way to watch time pass. When I’m having problems focusing, I will look at the sand passing through the hourglass and take a few seconds to bring myself back to the present moment. When I look up from my work and see the amount of remaining sand getting low, I know it’s time to wrap up what I’m doing and take a break.
4. Easy to use - It is probably the easiest timer available. I started using an hourglass when I saw them at the library in my son’s school. Kindergarten-aged children may not be able to tell time or even understand the concept of time, but they do know when something is empty or full.
5. Activating behavior - There are those who have a harder time getting motivated, especially during periods of low mood. Enter the power of the hourglass. Flip your five or ten-minute hourglass and try to get something done. You might just end up staring at the hourglass for the whole five minutes, but at least you have made an attempt to get some work done.
Next time you’re figuring out the best way to keep time when trying to get work done, instead of using digital means to keep time, consider the elegance and ease of just flipping your hourglass.
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about the author
My name is Dana Johnson and I am the creator of the Mood Check-In blog.