Narath Carlile in Articles 3 minutes

Alice in Workland - How rabbits will rob you

But timers can save you.

Most mornings, you wake up with the best of intentions.

Today’s going to be a good day. I’m going to eat well. Work out. Get lots done, move important projects forward. And get home on time tonight.

Then you look at your phone, and a slew of notifications pop up. Something interesting - or urgent - catches your eye.

I’ll just have a quick peek before I start work.

Next thing you know - an hour has passed. Argh. You’d read a great article, responded to some emails, wrote a review for a hotel, and checked your social feeds, so it was all good. Right?

In your gut, it doesn’t feel great. You know you just wasted an hour of your best morning prime-time on something you hadn’t intended. You went down a rabbit hole and got lost running the labyrinth, all the while feeling very busy. (I like how Seth Godin calls this ‘personal velocity’ - going fast without getting anywhere)

Rabbits: 1
Your Intentions: 0

Luckily, dodging rabbit holes is a sport you can get better at. The best technique I can share with you for that is this:

Be intentional with your time.

Being intentional is about being on track with your vision. A simple timer is all you need. It’s the most powerful tool I use for keeping my days intentional. Although I plan each day with clear time-blocks for what I want to accomplish, so many of our tools and environments create a constant risk of rabbit holes.

Say I’m starting my deep work block, but need to grab that one reference email from the Inbox. Danger, Will Robinson! Opening the inbox is going to shower me with emails that will try to capture my attention. To hedge the risk of spending my deep-work time on endless email, I set a 5-minute timer and dive in to fetch my one email, knowing the timer will remind me of my deep work intention.

Like this, I use my timer throughout the day, to keep me intentional with every decision. Setting a timer lets me relax into a task, trusting it will tap me on the shoulder like a helpful, punctual friend.

“Being intentional” turns out to be a kind of superpower. Since I started using it to guide my workdays, I’ve grown muscles around controlling my focus, reducing distraction, and achieving more of the important stuff.

If you want to learn more, come check out my MakeTimeFlow system.