An elegant and psychological way to keep time

. 2 min read

The kitchen timer is a handy tool in getting things done. I've talked about its good qualities here for example. It's quick to set up, it makes a nice ticking noise to inform your subconscious that time is running up, it makes you think outside the box, and time passes by flying as you grind to meet the deadline set by the timer.

The kitchen timer is super in every way, and I absolutely do not mean you should trash it and move on by what I'm about to say next.

Try the hourglass.

In some ways, the hourglass is inferior to the kitchen timer. For one, it doesn't make that ticking noise that signals your subconscious it's time to work. It also breaks more easily, and you can only set one specific and predetermined amount of time to it. Not to mention that you can't tell exactly how much time (in minutes) you have left, and that for any meaningful work, hourglasses of less than 30 minutes are completely useless. (1 and 2-hour hourglasses are best.)

But what the hourglass lacks in functionality, it makes up in elegance.

You see, having an hourglass on the table in front of you when you're working or getting other things done signals your brain that what you're doing is important. If the task were menial, you'd just use the kitchen timer. But you're using the hourglass. So that has to mean something.

Having the hourglass keep time for you tells you you're doing something special - something worthy of the elegance of this piece of art that is the hourglass. Do not underestimate its power. Time flies just as quickly with the hourglass as with the kitchen timer, and the silence of the hourglass (compared to the kitchen timer) speaks of dignity - and a dignity like that in your presence during your grinding hour triggers your brain to think that the quality of your work in that moment has to be worthy of the hourglass, thus making you produce high quality.

So, in a sense, kitchen timers are for tasks you just need to get done, regardless of the quality. The hourglass is for special occasions - or, if you want to produce high quality at all times, then the hourglass is for everyday use. It's up to you to decide.

In any case, get an hourglass.