Always running out of time? Try this cheap, simple tool

One of my favourite tools for keeping a focus on time is the low-cost, low-tech kitchen timer. Designed to run for precisely three minutes, I use it several times a day, yet never when boiling eggs. That’s because it sits on my office desk and there’s not much need for cooking there!
I like the timer so much that I wanted to use it as a metaphor for what this site is about. The key point about the timer is not so much the two chambers or the quantity of sand, although these are important, it is about that aperture in the middle that manages the flow.
And then there’s that hourglass shape, need I say more? Well yes, you would expect me to, wouldn’t you?
As I mentioned, the timer sits on my desk doing what metaphors do. I notice that shape in lots of other places too. On my computer screen, for example, where I have learned to be patient until that symbol disappears and the program is ready for action.
I occasionally use the timer as a weight to anchor and draw attention to time-sensitive papers and sometimes, have used it in a fun way to focus conversations. When a colleague once asked for a couple of minutes to discuss something, I flipped the timer and pointed out that he had precisely three! When you see that time running out it helps in getting to the point. Remember the humour though; you wouldn’t want egg on your face!
Squeeze scenario:
I find the timer most useful when used with other tools such as MindMaps®. Here’s a squeeze scenario. Your direct wants a verbal position report on some project or other. It is needed in 10 minutes time. Scary? Needn’t be. Here’s what I do.
Start by getting some blank sheets of paper, flip the timer and take three minutes to write down as many key points about the project as possible in the time. If I can get to 20+ in the three minutes then that’s doing okay.
Flip the timer and take another three minutes to group and organise those thoughts - one of those 4-colour ink pens is great for this.
Flip again and take the last three minutes to edit and present the map. When I’m doing that list bit, I rehearse what I’m going to say when dealing with each point.
That leaves one minute to get relaxed, composed and focussed on the meeting.
Would this work for you? Try it out with your work in progress? Let me know how you get on.
If you find it’s not for you then remember that original purpose. It’s great for timing eggs.

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