Recently I begin to use a free app named timer. Yes it's just a timer. And it only has two differences with the general timers. a) it will only vibrate once when time is up (no annoying pop-ups, you don't need to anything to make it quiet again); and b) it will change to a stopwatch when the time is up. That's it, but I found it's super helpful because of these two simple changes.
- It's perfect for the Pomodoro Technique as introduced in the previous post. It does its job while brings the least disturb if you want to concentrate for a while. And even if you missed some alarm, you can still know how much time you focused.
- I get a habit of keep it running now. First I estimate this thing will need this much time, and then make timer tick. It's very helpful because this will 1) remind me when my thought drifts, and 2) force me to learn to estimate and get some feeling on how much time each task takes. The hardest part for time management is actually to record or at least get some sense of how the time is spent. (So is finance management) And this small tool is very helpful in cultivating that habit.
- It also enables an asynchronous working style. I usually find it very annoying to wait for something -- say, wait for the computer to copy a large folder, or install Visual Studio. It's not worthwhile to simply wait there, but if I turn to do something else, chances are I will totally forget about the original task and thus get distracted in the sense of task management. Setting a 2-min timer sounds like a good idea, but it's not practical -- Just count how many actions it needs to set a 2 minute timer, letting alone the annoying alarm (which you need to do something about). But now since this specific app makes timer so lightweight, combined with LaunchCenter, it's just a swipe. And it's quiet and not demanding when its task is done -- but still obvious enough for you to note it. Now I can comfortably switching between (small) tasks and don't need to worry about getting distracted to a totally irrelevant task.
- It's from the same company of LaunchCenter, which means it provides many APIs for other apps to invoke, and also very easy to set with one tap (drag) in LaunchCenter. This is also important to make the previous three usage possible.