Whether you are running a business or living the freelance life, time management is an essential factor in improving your productivity. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re always chasing your tail and not getting anything done.
Thankfully, there are a few techniques that can help you better manage your time. One of these is using start timers to help structure your day.
Start timers are a simple, yet incredibly useful way to help you focus on a task and complete it in a set amount of time. By using a start timer, you are able to break down your work into smaller chunks, which makes it feel less daunting and helps you stay focused.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of using start timers to improve your productivity, as well as provide you with a few tips on how to get the most out of them.
Ready? Let’s go!
Start timers: what are they?
The average employee spends 2 hours per day recovering from distractions, which means that they are only productive for 3 hours and 20 minutes per day. This is where start timers can come in handy.
Start timers are tools that help you to focus on a specific task by setting a timer for a specific amount of time and then working on the task until the timer goes off. Some timers will be in the form of a software tool or app, while others can be as simple as a kitchen timer or stopwatch.
Although the Pomodoro Technique is the best-known time management strategy that uses a timer, there are many other ways to use timers to improve your productivity — and the benefits are truly astounding!
Why you should be using a start timer at work
So, what are the benefits of using start timers to improve productivity? Let’s take a look.
1. Increased focus and concentration. When you’re working on a task, and you know that you only have a certain amount of time to complete it, you’re naturally going to focus more intensely on the task at hand. This can lead to increased productivity and efficiency.
2. Improved time management skills. Using a start timer helps you to better manage your time and teaches you to work more efficiently, so that you can get more done in less time.
3. Increased motivation and productivity. Start timers give you tangible goals to aim for, and when you achieve them, it can be a great source of motivation and encouragement. Your productivity can only increase as a result.
4. Increased accountability. When you’re working against a timer, you’re more likely to stay on track and avoid distractions, because you don’t want to waste time. This can help you to be more productive overall.
5. A sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Finishing a task in a set amount of time can give you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, which can be motivating and encourage you to keep working hard.
Parkinson’s Law for better productivity
There’s a lot to be said for the idea that the more time you give yourself to do something, the more time it will take. This concept is called Parkinson’s law, and it’s been around for a long time. The idea is that work will fill the time allotted for it, so if you have a day to do a project, it will take all day. If you have an hour to do it, it will take an hour.
Parkinson’s law is based on the idea that humans are bad at estimating time. We tend to think that we can do more in an hour than we actually can, which means that we end up taking longer to do a project than we need to. This is where start timers can help.
When you use a start timer, you are forcing yourself to focus on the task at hand and work for a set amount of time. You are also training yourself to be better at estimating time, which will help you in the future when you have more complex projects to complete.
To apply Parkinson’s law to your workday, start by estimating how long a task should take. If you’re not sure, ask a colleague or do some research online. Once you have a good estimate, use a start timer to work on the task for that amount of time. When the timer goes off, take a break and then reset it to continue working.
If you find that you’re not able to complete the task in the set amount of time, don’t worry — just note how much time you actually spent on the task and adjust your estimate for next time. Over time, you’ll get better at estimating and will be able to work more efficiently!
How organizations can use and benefit from start timers
While there are many ways that the individual can benefit from using a start timer, businesses can also benefit from their use by implementing them into their daily operations:
- Setting start timers for tasks can help to break up the workday into more manageable and measurable chunks. This can be especially helpful for employers who want to track the time their employees are spending on specific tasks.
- Start timers can also help to increase productivity by providing a sense of urgency to complete a task. This can be especially helpful for tasks that are not necessarily enjoyable or motivating.
- In addition, start timers can help to keep employees on track by ensuring that they do not spend too much time on one task or get sidetracked by other tasks.
To reap these benefits, however, businesses may not use their start timer in the same way that individuals would.
For example, a business might use a start timer to keep track of how long their employees are taking for lunch breaks, or how long it is taking them to complete specific tasks. This allows the business to be more efficient with their time and resources.
There are a variety of different start timers that businesses can use depending on their needs. There are timers that can be set for a specific amount of time, or timers that will continue to run until they are stopped. Some timers can also be customized to fit the specific needs of the business.
Common uses of start timers for businesses
- In meetings — Set a certain amount of time for the meeting and make sure that everyone is aware of the timer. This will help to keep the meeting on track and ensure that everyone has a chance to speak.
- Lunch breaks — Keep track of how long employees are taking for lunch breaks, and if necessary, use a start timer to be strict about when the break has ended.
- Task time — Set a timer for how long employees should take to complete a specific task, and as per Parkinson’s law, this will ensure that the task is completed in that time frame.
- Productivity tracking — Use a start timer to track how long it takes employees to complete specific tasks, and then use this information to improve productivity.
While businesses can certainly benefit from using start timers, it is important to note that they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each business will have different needs, and it is best to find the timer that suits those specific needs.
Top tips for using a start timer to improve productivity
If your business is going to begin using a start timer for better productivity, it’s not as simple as setting the time limit and pressing ‘go’. You need to keep a few vital points in mind to get the most out of your start timer:
1. Get your whole team on board
If you’re going to be using a start timer as part of your work process, it’s essential that everyone in the team is aware of it and knows how it works. This way, there won’t be any confusion or resentment when someone is ‘forced’ to stop working after a set time.
2. Explain the reasoning behind it
Similarly, it’s a good idea to explain the reasoning behind using a start timer to your team. After all, they’re more likely to be on board with it if they understand why it’s happening in the first place. Explain that by setting time limits, you can be more productive and efficient as a team.
3. Set realistic time limits
It’s important to set realistic time limits for using a start timer. If you set the bar too high, you’re likely to end up frustrated and not much better off than before. Start with small tasks that your team can easily complete in a set time frame, and then work your way up to bigger projects.
4. Use a start timer that suits you
Not all timers are created equal — some people prefer digital timers, while others find an analogue timer more helpful. Find the type of timer that works best for your team and stick to it!
5. Take regular breaks
Even if you’re using a timer, it’s critical to take regular breaks. This will help refresh the team and keep things productive throughout the day.
No matter how you choose to use your start timer, remember that every new system you introduce will take a little time to successfully implement. But hang in there — your patience will more than pay off.
Start timer: Bottom line
There’s a wealth of advice out there pertaining to how to be more productive. Some people swear by Pomodoro, others advocate for batching, and still others find that simply planning their day in advance helps them stay on task. One strategy that is often overlooked is using start timers to improve productivity.
Start timers can be used in a variety of ways to help you be more productive. What’s more, they are incredibly accessible. Why not test out a start timer as you work today? It can be as simple as using the pre-built timer on your phone!