Work Smarter//

Why a 10 Minute Timer Could be the Best Thing to Happen to Your Career

Say hello to your new secret work weapon.

By Jacob Lund/Shutterstock
By Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

There are plenty of ways you already use a timer: for your dinner recipes, to put your kiddo in timeout, to track the laundry, and so on. But have you ever thought about packing that timer with you for the office, alongside your lunchbox? Even if you use your phone instead, time blocking your schedule can be a powerful way to transform your habits and performance. As career expert for TopResume Amanda Augustine explains, a 10-minute timer prevents us from going on the many, many rabbit holes professionals wander down. “Thinking you’re going to do a ‘quick online search for something’ can turn into hours of wasted surfing if you’re not careful, and a timer may be just the reminder you need to stick to your original plan for the workday,” she explains.

Experts outline why a 10-minute timer could be the best thing to happen to your career:

 You’ll be more productive

Think about when you have a task on your docket for the day. You’ve done it before, you’ll do it again, but for whatever reason, you’ll twiddling your thumbs and delaying getting started. Sometimes, not knowing exactly how long something will take is maddening, and can be a hurdle to the beginning. That’s where a 10-minute timer comes in super-handy, according to Augustine, she says simply turning one on will make you more productive. “When you guesstimate how long something will take without setting a timer, the task will likely take longer than you initially anticipated,” she explains. “When you set a timer, the amount of work you produce will increase and the time in which it takes you to complete each item will decrease.”

You will be more effective and efficient

With a 10-minute timer, you can have various cycles, allowing you to work for longer if you need it. The idea though is that once you hit ‘start’, you don’t look at it again (or anything else) until it buzzes. When we get used to timed work sessions, industrial-organizational psychology practitioners and workplace expert Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D. says we tend to perform more effectively and efficiently. This is especially true for those dreaded tasks that we absolutely have to do, even if we hate it. “Commit to working solidly for that set amount of time before taking a break. You will likely accomplish more in that short time than you would if you did not set a timer,” she explains. “Be sure to reward yourself with a break when you hear the buzzer.”

You will be better at delegating

To become a successful leader, you must, well, lead. And part of that is understanding the value you bring to a team and what deliverables you’re better off assigning to others who can master them better than you can. If you struggle with delegation, Augustine says a 10-minute timer can come in handy. As she explains, if there’s a task on your to-do list that someone else can do in 10 minutes or less, consider asking that person to help. “This works especially well if you manage others, as these opportunities may help your staff learn, grow, and advance at the company while giving back time on your calendar — it’s a win-win,” she explains. 

You’ll have a better attitude with projects.

It’s one thing to have an all-consuming task that’s due in twelve months and another to procrastinate it, and have six weeks left to finish everything. When presented with a project that feels impossible, but has a large lead time, 10-minute timers teach us how to break up deliverables into bite-sized — and thus, comprehensible — segments. “When your plan is organized into smaller, more digestible chunks of time, you’re less likely to become overwhelmed,” Augustine explains. “As a result, you’re also more likely to make progress on an initiative when you divide it in this manner.”

Your focus will be laser-sharp

If you’re a parent, you know how much you can get done with your child is napping. Or, if you’re an entrepreneur, you know those wee hours of the morning are void of distractions, and allow you to be productive. While you aren’t exactly using a 10-minute timer for these moments, you can recreate that laser-sharp focus by using one. “It’s no secret that humans have short attention spans. The longer we work on an item, the less focused we become,” Augustine explains. “By limiting the time you spend on each task — and scheduling short breaks throughout the day — you will find a greater focus to tackle your to-do list with gusto!”

This article was originally published on Ladders. If you like this article, then you will enjoy How to write a resume for 2020 and How to respectfully quit your job

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