kitchen timerOne of the biggest challenges during the workday is focusing. And the most difficult things to focus on are often the things you may not like or may not feel comfortable doing. Tasks that range from making sales calls to starting a big project to writing a proposal to the mind-numbing task of filing. Ugh.

In every case the task isn’t going to get done if it doesn’t get started and the getting started is a giant lump of a hump to get over. This is where your kitchen timer comes in.

In order to get started, set your timer for 5 or 7 or 10 minutes and focus like a laser beam on the task at hand. Make it a short amount of time so there’s no time to fuss about with other stuff while the timer is ticking. In those few minutes of laser-like focus you’ll be creating inertia which is helpful in three potential ways.
1) In the case of small but unpleasant tasks you may get it all done in the time you allotted. Very often tasks that you dread aren’t as time-consuming as you predicted.
2) You may find that once you get started you can keep going after the timer goes off. You just needed the push.
3) If you do need to quit that task when the timer goes off — even though it’s unfinished — you’ll see that some progress has been made making it a bit easier to pick it up when you have another ten-minute window to devote to the task.

Don’t use the timer or an app on your smartphone. Soon as you pick up that phone you’ll be totally distracted by something else. Just use the timer.