How to Turn Your Ipod Into A Motivational Timer

by Brad Isaac on February 4, 2007

Could you use a burst of focused motivation?

Studies show people with ADD/ADHD respond well to using timers. A student might set a timer for 10 minutes with a goal of finishing as much homework in that 10 minute stretch as she can. Professionals can use timers in the same way setting them for 30 minutes and working to intensity for 30 minutes and then taking a break. Personally, I’ve been known to knock out incredible amounts of work when a 15 minute pressure is on.

Eugene Schwartz, a highly paid, master copywriter, lived and died by his pocket timer set to 33 minutes and 33 seconds. He discovered that was his optimal time period for maximum productivity.

And let’s not forget the 5 minute productivity breakthrough.

Now you may think I’m going to tell you to rush right out and get an egg timer. Actually, you might already have one. If you own an ipod with a screen, you have an egg timer.

Here’s how to set it up:

1. From the main menu screen Scroll to the Extras and click the middle button

2. From extras, choose Clock

3. Choose the Sleep timer and pick a time period (I choose either 15 or 30 minutes)

4. Select some music.

Ipod egg timer

From there, it’s a race against the clock. How much work can you do on your project before the music stops? Challenge yourself. Get busy – work focused – work fast.

And this is key:

When the music stops, you stop!

Put down your pen, put down your work. Take 5 minutes to think about what you got done and what’s left. You can’t get back to work until the 5 minutes is up, so plan what you are going to do during this time.

This break time can be painful sometimes. You may have been at the height of productivity and suddenly you have to take a break? Well, the break is important especially at this time because it trains your mind to take these timers seriously. If at the end of the timer you could keep on going, what’s the point of starting? The timer MUST end. Your activity must end too. At least for 5 minutes.

Some music tips…

  • If you need to focus on reading, your choice of music is crucial. You might choose some classical music or just a nature sounds track.
  • For cleaning and organizing choose something upbeat.
  • For writing and programming I like Jazz. The real Jazz..

How to create different times for your timers

Unfortunately, the timers for the Ipods are very limited. You can’t set a 33 minute timer…or can you?

Here’s how to do it…

As a bonus tip for those who are skilled at MP3 creation. If you would rather have silence and an alarm at the end of the timer, create a silent MP3 for your selected time period 10, 15, 33 minutes, etc.

When you have the silent MP3, add it to a playlist followed by a 5 minute song. That way, when the silent “timer” track is over it will go into your “break song”. Take your break! When the break is over…back to work!

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Lucy Mauterer February 4, 2007 at 8:36 pm

Hi Brad,

I don’t have an ipod but I use my cellphone. It has the ability to save up to five alarms. I can set them off at intervals and work until each alarm goes off. I use it to pressure myself into getting more work done in a shorter period of time. The trick is to not overuse them. The work I do is very physical so can only be done at peak intensity for brief periods of time. It works well.

Brad Isaac February 5, 2007 at 11:33 am

Hi Lucy, true…if your job is physical such as moving boxes or planting trees overusing the timers too much would wear you out quick.

Stuff like desk work, surfing, writing emails with the use of a timer can be more productive.

February 6, 2007 at 10:56 am

Really great idea! I would never have thought to use my ipod in that way.

February 4, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Never considered this one. Excellent idea. I think I will try it out this weekend cleaning out the garage!

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