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How a Simple Kitchen Timer Can Help You Write More Articles in Less Time
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Image by Helen in Wales

It's the day before you leave for vacation.

You're working a half day, but there's still a list of things that you need to complete before you shut your computer down and grab your plane ticket. 

What do most of us do when we're in this situation?

We write down what we need to accomplish before our time is up, and then when we sit down at our desks we work like we're on a mission

I mean, it's a life and death situation (not really, but it can feel like it!) to know that you have a certain amount of work you need to complete by a concrete deadline.

Have you ever noticed that on days when you have a time crunch and a whole bunch to do, that your concentration is like a lightning bolt, and you're able to accomplish everything you need to do (or at least much more than you usually would in that amount of time)?

It's like you're working in overdrive!

Whether you've realized it or not, this is Timeboxing at work. 

What is Timeboxing?

Timeboxing is a productivity technique where you give yourself a specific amount of time to complete a task and you commit to quitting when that time period is up.You see, there is something in our brains that kicks into high gear when we feel a boundary of time approaching.

By limiting the time you'll spend on an activity (rather than saying "I'll just work on it until I'm done"), you unconsciously communicate to your brain that the situation is urgent, and your decision making process and your flow of ideas usually speed up to try to deal with the urgency.

I use this timeboxing technique on all sorts of activities, from Christmas shopping, to doing household chores, to writing articles for article marketing. 

Ahh, article writing.

We all know that  it's imperative that our articles be high quality. We will only submit articles that we're proud to attach our names to, but what do you think about harnessing the power of a sense of urgency and the feeling of being on a mission when writing your articles?  

I've been doing an experiment with using this Timeboxing technique to see if it would spur me to write quality articles faster, and I'm very pleased with the results. 

Here's how I do it:

1) Get a basic kitchen timer.

You may already have that around the house, but if you don't it's a worthwhile investment for it's time saving capabilities alone. The one I bought was under $5–really all it needs to be is the most basic kitchen timer. The idea is to have something that you set at a certain time, and then it ticks down until a bell rings.

I prefer the manual kind (the old fashioned kind) over the digital because you get that "tick, tick, tick" sound too–I don't mind that at all, and it helps keep my brain moving as I write my article. It serves as a constant reminder that there is a sense of urgency, and it's that urgency that helps me focus in like a laser beam and write with optimum efficiency. 

2) Set your time. 

If you know it usually takes you an hour and a half to write an article, I would set the time at an hour or lower. (A basic kitchen timer only goes up to 60 minutes, so that'll help you resist the temptation to set it higher!)

Actually I start with 30 minutes…and work like a madman!

Remember, I'm still focusing on quality (always quality–this article needs to be something I'm proud to attach my name to), but I'm just working in a way that I get it done.

Making decisions faster, getting words down on paper (or in the text editor I'm using) faster, and just overall processing information faster than I would be if I thought I had no deadline at all. 

Yes, this timeboxing techinique is basically like setting an artificial deadline for yourself.

3) If you dont get finished in time…

The first time I did this I worked much faster than normal, but the buzzer went off before I was done.

As I saw the time clicking down, I started to buckled down even more, and but I wasn't quite finished with the article before the loud buzzer went off. What then?

Well, I gave myself 15 more minutes, set the timer, and quickly wrapped things up. 

There is a strategy to this–it's sort of like a game. When I set the timer the second time, I was thinking "I'm not going to re-set it again! This is it–I MUST get this finished by the buzzer."

And I did.

Miraculously I wrote an article of the same quality as usual, but it took me less time. How much less time?

Well the first time it was about 10-15 minutes less time, but I think that as I get more used to writing by a timer that I may be able to cut down my article writing time even more.

4) Set the article aside for a day or so. 

When we've been working on an article for a while we do have the tendency to overlook some errors that would normally be obvious to us. We can read the article over after our first writing session and think "Perfect!" and then the next day look at it and see grammar and spelling errors flying off the page!

When I do my editing, I use the kitchen timer again–10 minutes max. I'm not trying to re-write the article; I'm just checking for grammatical and spelling errors. If there is something obviously off with the order of things or if I have any last minute tweaks I want to do, I do them, but I set a time limit on it. 

Since I've been timeboxing my article writing time, I feel much more in control, much more eager to sit down and write, and more focused as I write. It's a fun challenge–each time trying to beat my last time. Some days I do, some days I don't, but overall I know I'm writing quality articles more efficiently than I ever have before.  

Question for you: Do you have any special productivity techniques that you use with your article writing time? If so, please share!

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5 Responses to “How a Simple Kitchen Timer Can Help You Write More Articles in Less Time”

  1. Wendy says:

    really appreciated your article. In fact I seldom make any comments,but you inspired me to do so. Without knowing it I work on timeboxing all the time. I have a weekly goal I must reach come hell or high water. It works. I demand that I meet a certain backlink goal each and every week, with quality content for This has lifted my ratings on my sites and I find it ultra productive.

  2. Olive Wolfe says:

    Great idea. I learned this technique from Matt Furey and found that I write much better that way. Matt suggests you do do three deep breathing exercises and prtend you’re pulling in strength from the sun through your head.Then 3 more breaths pulling in strength through your feet (your roots) — now you’re grounded. Set the timer and write. Don’t edit, just write.

  3. Joan Adams says:

    Wow! I had not considered using my timer for my article-writing procrastination issues! I always use a timer for household duties. This will work for me! Thank you!

  4. This is a great article and very much in line with some of the techniques I teach my clients. CPA or Constant Partial Attention is a key reason why people achieve LESS when they’re working, so by using a stop watch and putting yourself under pressure to achieve your goal in a specific timeframe you limit CPA and allow your mind to truly focus. Parkinsons law states that the more time we give ourselves to do something, the more time we’ll need so the stop watch also forces productivity as well as focus. When you’re truly effective great things happen!

  5. Robert says:

    Simple , however very effective advice, when a time is written on a piece of paper it really doesn’t tell us much . Have raided the kitchen which is now without a timer !

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