If you’re reading this on a smartphone, you have a powerful productivity tool right at your fingertips.
I’ve used it to read mentally demanding books, clear out my e-mail inbox, plan for meetings, and strengthen my prayer life.
No, it’s not an app or any kind of online program. It’s much simpler than that.
It’s the 15-minute timer.
And it’s ridiculously simple. I have an iPhone, so I begin by saying, “Hey, Siri. Set the timer for 15 minutes.” When the countdown begins, I shut out everything else and put all my concentration into that one task.
This works on tasks I love and the ones I loathe. The enjoyable tasks, if left unchecked, could keep me occupied endlessly—to the neglect of other important ones. The fifteen-minute timer keeps me accountable to move on to other tasks I need to do. And those irksome tasks (the ones you get busy just to avoid) can be tamed by the timer, too. I’ve been surprised how much of an unpleasant task I can knock out when the timer is going.
Of course, not every task lasts only fifteen minutes, but tasks that require more time can be divided into smaller units. And the awareness that the clock is ticking helps me push myself, cut out distraction, and ultimately get more done than I thought possible.
You might be surprised how many e-mails you can respond to in fifteen minutes. Or creative ideas you can generate. Or even the quality of heavy reading you can do.
So why not give it a try? All it takes is a little determination—and a timer.