4 ways to use Google’s online timer

Google is an awesome search engine but it has other practical applications which are not quite so obvious. Google Timer can help you to focus on a task for a period of time without continually watching the clock. Sure, you can set a timer on a smartphone, but the countdown timer is faster and easier if you’re already working in a browser. I’ve even created TextExpander snippets for time intervals I frequently use.

google timer - set timer 15 min

How to start the countdown timer

Just type set timer followed by a time interval into the Google search box. Here’s some examples to try out:

set timer 5 min
set timer 1 hr
set timer 90 sec
set timer 1 hr 15 min

The countdown will start and play a tone when it reaches zero enabling you to focus on the task instead of watching the clock.

Putting the timer to work

Here’s four ways I’ve used the timer to stay on schedule:

  1. Time your practice routine. Set the timer when you are practising specific techniques. For example, when practising guitar I might plan to spend 5 minutes on a warm-up, 15 minutes on transcription and 10 minutes on repertoire. Using the timer helps me ensure I cover all the bases and not inadvertently spend the whole session on a single aspect.

  2. Limit the time you spend on the web and social media. Have you ever intended to quickly check something on the web or a social media site only to emerge from the rabbit hole an hour or more later? It can happen all to easily. Decide how much time you’ll allow yourself and set a timer before you start. The alarm helps prevent you being unintentionally sucked into unimportant activities.

  3. Set a manageable target for difficult work. Is there something you’re putting off because you’re expecting it to be difficult? Chances are you’ve imagined it to be more complex and challenging than it really is. Commit to spending 30 to 60 minutes on the task, set the timer and get started. You might even build up enough momentum during this time that you want to keep going.

  4. Keep to schedule during meetings. The timer can be helpful in meetings — especially if you have participants who struggle with brevity when providing updates. If you’re having trouble finishing meetings on time try using the timer to limit how long you spend on each agenda item.

Question: What other situations do you find a timer to be helpful?

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2 Responses

  1. I think my website can be more usable for this tasks

  1. September 13, 2014

    […] falling into the mindless repetition trap. Work out the range of activities you want to cover and use a timer to avoid over-investing in one area. Log what you did and make notes about what went well and what […]

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