Recently a friend of mine gave me a wonderful gift with the intended purpose of helping me manage my time much better. It's completely low tech, doesn't have a USB plug, app or blue tooth, no instruction manual, nothing - just pull it out of the box and start getting your life organized. So what is this miraculous item - a simple egg timer.

To be specific my gift was a 15 minute egg timer, nothing more complicated than that. The idea behind the gift was to use it to start breaking my day into 15 minute chunks and see what changes to my productivity that I noticed.

So I started to use my egg timer to measure -

  • My time on Facebook
  • The length of telephone calls
  • How long I spent responding to emails at any one time
  • Time for short, power meetings
  • Creative thinking sessions
  • Stretching exercises
  • Micro planning sessions
  • Reading a chapter in a book
  • Writing a short blog post
  • Reading a blog post
  • Watching a Ted talk
  • And lots of other daily task, from showering to doing chores

The first thing I realized was that 15 minutes goes in a flash when your on Facebook, doing emails, on a phone call, surfing online, procrastinating and so on. It seems almost impossible that these sessions went by so fast as I watch the grains of sand slipping by. This in turn gave me a much great appreciation of my own time and how much of it I tend to waste, given half the opportunity.

For me, the egg timer has given me much more discipline. It has taught me to get things done in a set period of time by being focused, organized and committed. And of course when you have all three of these you can't help but be more productive.

Sometimes the best ideas really are the simplest. Buy yourself an egg timer and use it all the time and see what changes in the way you think, your perception of time and your ability to focus. If you are anything like me you will be amazed at the results and just how productive you become. I love low tech solutions to high tech problems and this is certainly one of the best I've come across.