For the past few months I have been using a time management method called The Pomodoro Technique. Despite the name it is a simple way to manage your work time. To follow it you:
- decide on the task to be done
- set the timer to 25 minutes
- work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x
- take a short break (3-5 minutes)
- every four work cycles take a longer break (15–30 minutes)
The story (you can read it here) is the inventor was studying at university and came up on the idea of partitioning time between breaks to motivate himself to work continuously for short periods. He happened to use a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro in Italian) and a pad and pencil to record his progress.
You don’t really need to read any more than that to get started, but there is a book and certification and courses and a plastic tomato timer because this is what people do when they can’t leave well enough alone.
You can try it if you want. I don’t care. The reason I am mentioning it is I finally found a good timer to use. Up until now I had been using a Pomodoro specific iPhone app that I would set next to my computer. This was fine most of the time, but sometimes I found myself away from my phone or would forget to reset it. I had tried OS X apps but they all had obtrusive windows that would get in the way.
Timebar costs $2.99 on the App Store and is almost the perfect Pomodoro timer. Rather than barking a growl notification at you or having to manage a full window, Timebar uses a transparent color over your actual menubar to show the countdown. You use the menu bar item to interact with it and the alert window is very small.
The only thing I wish it had was a “ding” noise so I could know when my 5 minute breaks were up, but other than that it is just what I needed.