One of the best ways to work productively when you have ADHD is to use a kitchen timer. By setting the timer for 30 minutes and not changing activity until the timer rings, you develop the ability to stay on task and make progress on even the most difficult or boring task. It also helps you beat procrastination because you break overwhelming tasks into small do-able 30 minute chunks.
Using a timer like this isn’t a new idea…Behaviourist Psychologist, B.F Skinner used a timer to track his work. His timer went on when he sat down to work and off when he got up from his chair. It’s surprising the power that a simple timer has on even the most brilliant minds.
The variety of timers on the market has definitely advanced since Skinner’s day…but which one should you choose? Below is a short review of my client’s favourite timers.
The Simple Timer
This is the timer I use. It was $4 from the pharmacy. Over the years I have tried lots of different ones from the complex to the simple and it turns out that the simple one works best for me.
The Fun Timer
This Cube timer is both fun to look at and to use, which will properly mean you will use it more!
The Dual Timer
This Dual timer is a step up from the simple timer. It has some practical extra features including a clock, 2 countdown timers, a stop watch and a keypad lock. You can stand it on a flat surface, or clip it to a belt or pocket. It also has a magnet so you can attach it to a steel surface so it can go everywhere with you! As well as an alarm it has a vibrate setting.
The Posh Timer
A client discovered this Rolls Royce of timers in her yoga magazine. It has 150 alarms which is perfect to keep you on task, it gives you transition times between tasks and reminds you to do task at certain times. Rather than loud beeping or buzzing there is a choice of 4 gentle sounds, which is perfect if you are sensitive to sound.
The dos and don’ts of choosing your timer:
1) Do get a timer you love and works for your needs.
2) Do get a digital timer. There is some fun wind up timers, but they tend to have a noisy, ticky sound that is distracting.
3) Don’t use your smart phone.
Even though phones have alarms and there are tons of great timer apps, a separate kitchen timer still works the best. There is something very powerful about having a separate timer, whose sole job is to keep you on task and productive. Your phone’s alarm is useful for other things, but for this purpose the kitchen timer is the best.
Thanks to Clare, George and Susan for your timer recommendations!