Hey, I’m Taylor Vogel and this is Now That I’m Not Your Teacher. [cue music] Each week we’ll explore an aspect of adulting that you might have missed in school. Since I used to be a teacher, I’ll structure it in ways that are proven to help you retain information. But since I’m not your teacher anymore, I can approach it in a way that’s honest and sometimes inappropriate for a classroom.
In this week’s unit, we’re talking timers and how using them can make a HUGE difference in the success you feel. We’ll work this week in time increments, starting today with how a forty minute timer can make you more productive with focused work.
Working from home, I’ve had my fair share of days staring blankly at a computer screen and not being able to wrap my head around all of the things that need to be done. I had worked really hard before the pandemic to create strict boundaries around work and home, setting a lot of my work cues up to be environmental. But even when I was in the office, I knew that if I could schedule out and set timers for forty minute chunks of time, I could get a LOT done.
I’m taking forty minutes from my days teaching PreK and Kindergarten music. All of my other classes were fifty minutes and those two were often shortened to forty. These young ones needed a more focused and more consolidated chunk of time or else they would grow tired, distracted, and often a little emotional. Sweet babies. What I learned is HOW MUCH can be accomplished in forty minutes if you narrow in on the objective at hand. If in forty minutes a kindergartener could learn a new melody, lyrics, and accompanying game, play it to completion, and still have time to reiterate what they learned to their neighbor, I can certainly use forty minutes to make moves on a work project if I know what needs to be accomplished.
I’ve used forty minute blocks to create and send out schedules to up to ten people, zero out my email inbox (and this includes replying to those avoidance emails), or market a product via phone to my network. Once the timer goes off, I stop and assess what I’ve done, even if it hasn’t been completed. If I can get the project wrapped up in ten minutes, I do, and then take a ten minute break. If not, I spend those next ten minutes planning out my next forty minute block to be as productive as I can, tagging on incomplete tasks. So, next time you need to focus in, set a timer for forty minutes, close your door, and go.
While working out, I often exercise for forty minutes. Thirty minutes feels a little too short, and an hour means that I’ll have to spend more than an hour on exercise daily if I count putting on my shoes or stretching after (which I do). While on the elliptical at home, I watch Fixer Upper, which serves as my forty minute timer—you don’t always have to literally set a timer.
Finally, a forty minute timer is what I use to segment my weekly “deep clean” of our home. Though I’m trying to get back into a ten minute daily tidy (more on that later this week) forty minutes on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning can right a lot of the week’s overlooked wrongs. I pop on a long form podcast to serve as this timer and work through the flow chart I keep on my fridge. What can you get done in forty minutes? Let us know on Instagram @nowthatimnotyourteacher, and be sure to subscribe to the rest of this week’s timer tips.