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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Writing Life: In Praise of Timers

I don't think I would get anything done without a timer. When I'm struggling, when I'm in full rabbit-in-the-headlights, why-do-I-have-73-things-on-my-to-do-list mode, the timer is often the only way I can get started. I say to myself, I'll spend 15 minutes on this job, then the next, and so on. Sometimes, some of my to-do-list jobs can be done in 15 minutes (usually to my complete surprise), but often not. This doesn't matter. 15 minutes of that job done is 15 minutes more than I would have had done without the timer - not to mention 15 minutes less of "omg what am I going to do?" being quite good for my health.

Some days are '15 minute days'. The timer goes off all day, as I switch from task to task, chipping away at them. And if I'm being good, some of those 15 minute blocks can be 'me time'. It's amazing, but 15 minutes reading time can be a real break. This is something I learnt when exam marking. Very little else has the power to refresh in so short a time.

If this sounds helpful to you, and not like the confessions of a crazy person, you may like to check out the Flylady website, where I learnt the 15 minute rule. As a no-longer-Christian Brit reading her US Christian comments, there are times when I find her style a bit gushy and preachy, but at the same time, her advice is sound, and some of the sentimentality even rings true - for example, I think she's right that getting your house in order (quite literally - she's a housework life coach, first and foremost) is a way of loving yourself. I would not be as productive as I am today without having followed her system closely when I was first at home all day with a baby (argh! just realised that was almost fifteen years ago!) Anyway, startling realisations aside, I'll leave you with the suggestion to give the 15 minute thing a go if you're struggling to get going. As Flylady says, "you can stand anything for 15 minutes".

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