Recently I potty-trained my three-year-old daughter. Well, actually she kind of just did it when she decided she wanted to, and she ended up training me to ask if she had to go all the time. When she got resentful of me telling her to go, my fellow moms Robyn DeHart and Emily McKay suggested I use a timer. That way it would be the timer telling her to go and not me.
I remembered we had gotten a potty watch from my parents a few months back, and I pulled it out, and—what do you know—that technique worked! I could set the watch for 30, 60, or 90 minutes, and when the time expired it played a little song and she knew it was time to go.
But the watch didn’t just train her. It trained me. I would often forget to turn it off when she was at school or asleep, and it would go off every 30 minutes. So if I was on Facebook and it went off and then it went off again, and I was still on Facebook, I’d know I’d just spent 30 minutes of my precious writing time surfing my friends’ statuses and I’d get to work. It also helped me keep working. If I was feeling tired and wanted to get up and walk away from the computer for a while, I’d tell myself to wait until the potty watch went off again.
I’d used online timers before to keep myself productive, but I had to remember to go online and set one. And, of course, once I was online, I might end up going to the timer website and I might stop by Twitter or this blog. But the potty watch was already set. I didn’t have to do anything because it was going to go off whether I wanted it to or not.
And then I remembered I also had a timer I’d bought to keep my daughter in time out. I’d put her in time out, set the timer, and she could watch it tick down. If she got up, then it started over again. She learned very quickly to stay in time out.
After my success with the potty watch, I would sometimes grab the timer when I was having a hard time getting started and set it for 10 minutes, figuring I could write for 10 minutes and then stop. Most of the time (not all of the time), by the time the timer went off, I was well into the scene and wanted to keep going.
What about you? Do you have any tricks you use to keep yourself productive or to trick yourself into doing things you don’t want to?