Archive for October 2011

Uses for a kitchen timer, part 3,027: limit recreational time online

Regular visitors know I’m pretty weird about my kitchen timer, crucial for everything from implementing the Pomodoro Technique to minimising time spent on housework. (Because when you time yourself, or at least when I time myself, it has the effect of gamifying the undertaking — sad but true.) But I keep discovering further applications. Favourite at the moment is to combat the time-sucking effects of too much time spent online without a specific goal. Like many people, I suspect, I’m not sufficiently strong-willed to resist checking email/Twitter/blogs repeatedly when working on, say, a book chapter. But it turns out that I am sufficiently strong-willed to remember, as I click on Firefox and get stuck in, to set the countdown timer for 10 or 20 minutes and set it going. Ten or 20 minutes later, I’m roused from my absorption and there’s at least a chance that I’ll seize the opportunity to return to what I planned to be doing. It’s the extended will in action! Now stop reading this and get back to work.

In praise of gadgets that don't do everything

Varwwwclientsclient1web2tmpphpw Tg1caIn the midst of last week's hoopla over the launch of the Kindle Fire, Reuters social media editor Anthony de Rosa tweeted:

The beauty of the Amazon Kindle is that I am not a click away from other distractions, that all changes with Fire.

I couldn't agree more. I love my Kindle with a troubling intensity, but the reason I love it is that it helps me focus my attention, instead of dissipating it.

Oliver Burkeman I'm a writer for The Guardian based in Brooklyn, New York. My new book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking explores the upsides of negativity, uncertainty, failure and imperfection. Each week in This Column Will Change Your Life I write about social psychology, self-help culture, productivity and the science of happiness, and make unprovoked attacks on The Secret.

I also blog about things for Guardian US and write a monthly column for Psychologies magazine. Hello.

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