This is a terrible picture of my sand timer:
I found it here, and although my exact model is sometimes sold out, there are always others like it available.
Like many people who work from home, manage a business, and generally have about a billion plates spinning in the air at any given time, I often find my time fragmented and my schedule full of tasks that fall conveniently into the “multi” category. This works great for most things, but some tasks can suck you in and not let go. Which, yay for focused work, but when you’re really into completing a project it can be to the detriment of everything else.
You don’t want to pick your head up from a project at 4am and realize you needed to have gone to the post office before 5pm. The previous day. Not that I’ve done that before. Nope. Moving on...
Enter the hourglass. Mine is meant to be a literal hourglass, measuring 60 minutes give or take a few. Its use in my daily routine is tri-fold:
- Its first, and probably most important, job is to give me a marker of the time I spend at the computer. Most of my tasks are accomplished in front of a screen, and the timer gives me a reminder to get up, move around, stretch, etc.
- It helps me out when I’ve got a handful of tasks with nebulous time-frames waiting in the wings. For example, I’ll do database entry for an hour, stretch break, then edit photos for an hour, etc. Breaking up work like this keeps me from going to the post office drop-box at four in the morning because oops, how do clocks work again?
- If I’m having trouble focusing or getting into a project I need/want to get into, it gives me hard limits without being intrusive. There’s no obnoxious alarm or vibration to distract me, so once I do knuckle down if I need more time I can just flip the hourglass over and keep going (no flipping allowed if I’m using it for number two of this list).
And there you have it. Its lack of intrusiveness has been really beneficial to my schedule - it's an excellent way to mark time spent, without being jarred out of whatever you were just doing.