Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In need of a timer app

Last week I finished one of the books I was reading to research my novel, and so far I haven't picked anything else up yet.  I've had a couple of freelance deadlines the last few days, so that's taking precedence.  I might, however, do a little online research today, if I can carve out 30 minutes or so.

I read an interesting blog post last week about how to write 2,000 words a day.  You could substitute any number of words you want — the point of the blog post is that it's more manageable if you set aside several 30-minute time blocks, instead of trying to carve out 2 consecutive hours.  It makes sense.

I like the idea of setting aside 30 minutes at a time to work on my novel — or to work on anything, really.  I think it would help me stay focused if I decide that for the next 30 minutes I'm going to work straight through, and then I'll take a break.  I tried some years ago to use a little kitchen timer to do this, but I found that it didn't work as well to have the timer on my desk.  So a couple of days ago, I started looking for a timer app for my computer.

Unfortunately, Windows computers don't seem to have as many software options, though I'm sure there is probably exactly the app I need for a Mac.  I did find this online timer, which so far is working pretty well.  I can set the timer, switch my windows, and it'll make a gong-like sound when it finishes its countdown.

What I really want, however, is software that will put a small timer, perhaps the size of iTunes's mini player, always on top of all my other windows.  That way I can see how much time is remaining without having to switch windows.  I think it would really help me to stay focused if I can tell myself, "Just 10 more minutes, and then I can check email/get a drink/take a break."

Does anyone know of a software tool like that for Windows-based computers?  I have Firefox, but so far I haven't seen that any of their add-ons will do what I want (though they do have a lovely add-on called LeechBlock to block or limit your use of websites that distract you while you are working).  I'd love to hear about any software apps or add-ons you've tried, and how well they worked!

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