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December 14, 2008


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Corinne McKay

I recently went to a translation conference and learned all kinds of neat things about people's timekeeping strategies (I don't know whether any of these people have ADD or not, but it was interesting!). One that I liked, for those of us who work at the computer all the time, was one woman's idea of setting a timer for 50 minutes of really focused work time, then doing a 10 minute activity away from the computer (making beds, returning a phone call, washing a few dishes, etc.) when the timer goes off. Although I have a treadmill desk I get sick of staring at my screens all day, and this (or your buddhist clock idea!) seemed like a nice way to break up the day!

Rosemary Carstens

Since I know I need to rest my eyes at intervals when working for hours on the computer, I've tried all sorts of different things to make me do it. Some work for awhile and then, next thing I know, I have strained away the day. I sometimes use the timer idea--I can get a lot done in a two hour period of deep focus, so when I just have to make some headway on a project and my mind feels scattered and like going out to play, I set 2-hour intervals when I turn off the Internet, email, and the telephone, and bear down on the document I'm working on. At the end of that period, I get up, do a couple of minor little chores or just walk around, then come back and do it again. I can get in six hours of really strong work in a day by doing this and I feel so much better than if I'd skittered all day long from one distraction to another -- Rosemary

Claire Walter

I never thought about timing anything. When I am deadline-pressed, I am glued to my desk chair and crank out my work. When I'm not, I spend a more leisurely day. I have my favorite time-wasters (chowhound.com, Spider Solitaire and, once upon a time, Scrabulous). Maybe I should build an on/off schedule into each workday.

attention to life

Hmmmm...I really like the idea of reminding myself to stop being so intense and look up to pay attention to something else in the world. Funny, though, sometimes it seems there are nothing but interruptions and sometimes we need them.

All good wishes!!

Melanie Mulhall


What an interesting tool! I'm all in favor of pauses to get centered and return to the present moment (if I've been off somewhere, mucking in the past or the future).

I find my need for those breaks differs, depending on what I am doing. If I am editing a book, I absolutely need to take a break about every hour if I am to do the best job for my client. It need not be a long one, just a pause and turn from the computer to other things, (perhaps a sprint upstairs to put a load of wash in the dryer or a break to make some tea). I'm scrupulous about keeping track of my billable time and sign out/in when I break for a short time. It's worth the effort.

When I am working on a piece of writing for myself, time sometimes dissolves and I work until there is a natural pause. But that natural pause is seldom hours downstream. Going with the flow, for me, seems to include pulling my raft up to the shore for a look around with some regularity.

If I'm doing something like gardening, housework, or cooking, then I seem to be very present with the activity and let my body tell me when to break.

Thanks for the reminder to stay present and look after ourselves.


Laurel Kallenbach

When I need to really focus without allowing myself to be distracted by other extraneous chores, I bring our Zen clock from the bedroom to my office. These little bells sound like a good way to avoid having to carry the clock from spot to spot. Thanks!

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