Digital timers help executive functions

Executive Functioning Tip # 7: The Digital Timer – One of My Best Buddies

(Tip #7 of the series 15 Tips to Support Your Brain for Good Time Management)

While I’m not a fan of digital clocks, I’m a HUGE fan of digital timers. Since time-challenged folks, like those with ADHD, lack an awareness of the passage of time, the digital timer takes over that job.  I have two in use as I write this blog!

One is a vibrating interval timer. I use this one to monitor my focus.  When it goes off I check in with myself to see if I’m actually doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Am I writing the blog as planned or am I surfing the net or answering emails? This is a good timer for office settings because it is pretty quiet.

The other timer is on a string around my neck.  I use it to remind myself to make transitions.  I plan thirty minutes to write a blog, so I set the timer for thirty minutes. When it goes off, I stop writing, finished or not.  This keeps me from being hyper focused on an activity that leads to ignoring other tasks that need my attention too.

It is important to note that digital timers are best as stand-alone products, not those that operate as part of your phone. Smartphones are hugely distracting and using a timer app on your phone will be counter-productive.

Timers can also help you avoid being late. I decide the time that I need to be in the car, leaving the house. Then, I set the timer for fifteen minutes BEFORE I need to go. I have learned (the hard way) that it can take me as much as fifteen minutes to stop what I’m doing and prepare myself for departure.

Timers are also effective in breaking up long stretches of work time so you give your body and your brain a break. Set the timer for, say an hour, and then before your break, set the timer for five minutes. It’ll remind you to get back to work!

Using timers has seriously improved my productivity by externally supporting my brain with its executive functioning challenges.  Get yourself some timers and see what a difference they can make.  You can find my favorites on my Cool Tools page on my website.

About the Author Marydee Sklar

Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program® and the Set Up Success and Seeing My Time® planners. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.

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