In Praise of the Kitchen Timer

February 26, 2010

Be it digital or mechanical, the humble kitchen timer is one of my favorite tools. Of course it helps me prepare meals without burning them (simmering rice or roasting a chicken doesn’t mix well with absentmindedness). But in addition to timing boiling pasta or baking pies, I also use a timer in several other useful ways.

I use it to:

Keep myself from getting sucked into the black hole of email.

Practice sketching.

Complete an Imaginary Trip to the Beach assignment.

Tuesday's assignment

Start a project I really don’t want to do. I tell myself I’ll only do the Unpleasant Task for 15 minutes and then I can quit. Most times, I will continue on after the timer goes off, and occasionally find that the U.T. didn’t even take the full 15 minutes!

Focus on a chore, like dusting for example, that I take too much time doing because I’m easily distractible. (“This magazine doesn’t belong here. Let me move it to the magazine holder in the family room. Oh look, there’s that bill I need to file in the office. While I’m in here, I think I’ll check my email…” See the problem?)

I'd rather be dusting... (ha)

And, less happily, I’ll even sometimes use the timer while I’m taking a break during the day to read or do some other fun thing. The ringing of the timer reminds me that it’s time to go back to work.

So in a world full of iPhones and BlackBerries, here I sit with my kitchen timer. Never mind...whatever tool does the job.

What about you?  Do you have any low-tech tools you can't live without?  Do share!

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  1. Love this, KJ!! The timer is queen at my house too and for many of the same reasons.

    My other low-tech, can't-live-without tools are the mighty pen and paper. Post-It notes, note paper, journals...something to write on and something to write with! I know you can capture it all electronically, but I want to hear the scratch of the pen and see the ink flow across the paper!

    That's my gadget and I'm sticking with it!

  2. Oh, yeah, pen and paper are essential. They make me feel so much more creative than the keyboard and monitor do.

  3. I can't believe your timing, Kathy. My husband presented me with a lovely kitchen gift yesterday (an apron and olive oil dispenser, plus fancy olive oil), and after I'd oohed and ahhed over them and tried the apron on, he asked me curiously what was the one kitchen gadget I couldn't live without -- and I answered the humble timer (which made him laugh)! I *love* your idea for the unpleasant tasks; gonna try that this week. :)

  4. Just about any unpleasant task can be endured for 15 minutes... Then you can go do something more enjoyable. Maybe something involving an apron and olive oil?

  5. Love this post, Kathy. I've said a similar thing: I can do anything for 10 minutes. That thought helps take the sting out of those tasks I dislike (or am totally anxious about).

  6. Thanks for stopping by, Christi! I have to admit the timer has gotten me through many an unpleasant or anxiety-producing chore. I'm glad to see I'm not alone in this.