Tik Tok Tik Tok

No, that is not a reference to Ke$ha. That’s the sound of the kitchen timer reminding me that I still have another 7 minutes to go before I can check the text message I just received.

When it comes to writing my mind often wanders. Sometimes I’m so focused on crafting that perfect prose that I fail to write anything at all. And then I usually end up on YouTube. I learned the kitchen timer trick from Don Miller’s blog. I used it last year when I was participating in NaNoWriMo and it did wonders for my attention span.

Once I set the timer (for 10, 20, 30 minutes – depending on the day) I will do nothing else but write. No email, no Facebook. No getting up to get more coffee, because I always convince myself that coffee helps. Just write!


This process proved helpful when undertaking my first project with ECPAT: to edit and assemble a 40+ page quarterly report. As an international NGO, very few of the regional officers are native English speakers. This meant that I had to read the report, understand the report, rewrite the report, and then edit the report down from 10 or so writers into one seamless voice. Never mind the fact that I was jet-lagged and at that point knew little about the 81 groups operating in 75 countries.

Ergo, my kitchen timer. I knew I brought it to Thailand for a reason. Working on those reports became a bit like a game to me, and I like games. I worked in 10 minute increments and took 1 minute breaks, and once I had worked for 40 minutes I was “allowed” to either a) listen to a song on my iPod, b) go to the bathroom, or c) get a drink/snack. Believe me, the system worked!

This process is proving helpful once again today, as I churn out resumes and cover letters. I left  my trusty kitchen timer at my parents’ house, but the timer on the microwave works just as well.

Alas, it’s time to work again. This blog post is one of my “rewards.” If you’ve never tried this method I highly suggest it. If you have, what did you think?


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