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Killing time: Do more by ignoring the clock

Mike Elgan | Oct. 2, 2012
Twitpic CTO Steve Corona really knows how to kill time.

Because the timer is associated with the time on task, and not time of day, it's easier to resist distractions. But if distractions or interruptions do occur, you hit the pause button.

After you return from your distraction, 30/30 is still green, and still shows you how much time remaining. You hit the "play" button, and get back to work until you've put in your two hours.

When you're finished, you can take a break and then go on to the next tasks.

Your sense of how you spent your day is based on how much time you actually spent on the important tasks -- in fact, you know exactly how much time you actually spent, so you can adjust those for future days.

Best of all, your sense of situation at any given time is dominated by what you're doing and how much time you've got left to keep doing it (rather than what the clock is doing).

The 30/30 app frees you from the constraints of the clock, and empowers you with your own work and your own goals. It drives you to work faster and focus on the task at hand without triggering clock rebellion.

Another great trend in counter-clockwise productivity is the focus on the achievement of goals, rather than on how you spent your time from 1 to 3 p.m. There are many new mobile apps that promote this focus on achievement.

One great example is an app called iDoneThis. At the end of each day, iDoneThis will prompt you to list the things you accomplished that day, and it will record them on a calendar for you.

The knowledge that you will be asked this, and that your achievements will be recorded, is enough to keep you focused all day -- not on doing work, but on achieving goals and finishing projects. (It works like a semi-automated version of the Jerry Seinfeld Productivity Secret, where you try to mark your calendar with unbroken days of achievement.)

iDoneThis is a free iOS app, and also an app for Chrome and other platforms. There are other achievement-oriented apps on all platforms that do something similar.

To recap, here's the six-point secret to clock-free productivity:

Remove as many visible clocks from your life as you can, to break your clock obsession.

Rely on alerts, rather than clock-watching, to coordinate meetings and appointments with others.

Use new apps and online tools to match tasks with timers.

Make sure you can easily pause the timers for distractions and interruptions (which you should try to minimize).

Optimize your use of time by flexibly tweaking tasks and the time allotted to those tasks.


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