Once again Bob has a fantastic suggestion to help us get things done on his ToDoOrElse.com blog, the basics of GTD SOP #2 are that you spend 48 minutes working with an allowance of 12 minutes slack time every hour (although Im hoping this doesnt apply to 24 hours a day although it sure feels like it sometimes!).
Every now and then I find another use for Dinner Timer Lite. Today is no exception, with some very simple modifications to the settings Dinner Timer Lite makes a great timer for GTD SOP #2 (IMHO!) - not to mention that the timer Bob recommends is out of stock at Amazon.com as I type this and Dinner Timer Lite is available as a free download!
Dinner Timer Lite is a free PC based timer originally intended to help me reduce the number of meals I burnt because I returned to the PC to work and forgot to set the timer in the kitchen or when I did it went off and I kept working thinking I would just do another 30 seconds when it was really 5 minutes extra.
Configuring Dinner Timer Lite for GTD SOP #2
From the main menu choose Settings -> Options.
On the General Options tab set the following:
Default timer run time : 60 min.
End point close warning time : 12 min.
Over end point first warning time : 4 min. (or as you feel appropriate)
Secondary over end point warning : 8 min. (again as you feel appropriate)
Stop all notifiers after end point: 10 min.
That has set up the timer to run for 60 minutes by default, warning me 12 minutes before the hour is up (i.e. 48 minutes after the start), then again warning me at the end of the hour, combined with two possible over run warnings at 4 and 8 minutes in case I keep slacking! as if that would happen! and a stop at 10 minutes in case I have wandered away from the PC.
Naturally when you are working you dont want to be clock watching but you might just want to see how long till you get some slack and at the same time its good when your slacking to see how long you have left so lets setup the opacity of the timer.
The settings here are :
Timer stopped : high visibility.
Timer running : Low visibility.
48 Minutes up : good visibility.
Time up : high visibility.
Over run slacking : full visibility.
The current release version of Dinner Timer Lite features 2 styles of notification (future versions have some more notifiers currently being written).
Here are how I have configured Dinner Timer Lite :
Select both bubble and sound notifiers on the notifiers tab.
Click Bubble Notifier then the Edit Settings button to open the options for the bubble notifier.
From the top drop down box work your way through the various options, setting the Action as Run Once or Dont Run where you dont want a bubble to appear.
The text will appear in a bubble pop up from the system tray area when the appropriate event occurs.
Started : "Timer started"
Stopped : "Timer stopped"
EndPointClose: "Slack Time, you now have 12 mins slack time to surf and make a cup of Tea!" (This event is the one set to occur 12 minutes before your hour is up).
EndPoint: "Time to get back to work remember to restart Dinner Time Lite" (occurs when the 60 minutes is up).
EndPointMissed1: "Stop slacking and get back to work"
EndPointMissed2: "Thats enough slacking you won't get anything done"
Naturally you may wish to change the messages for ones that are a little more motivational (or polite)!
Next set up the sound notifiers in a similar way. I would suggest you use a sound on the start event so you know for sure that the volume is working when you start the timer!
When setting the sounds use the Run Once or Run Twice Action options otherwise the sound will keep going until you stop and that would likely ruin your 12 minutes of slack time!
You can choose your own sounds if you dont like any of the built in ones, they were chosen to get attention. Sound Rangers is a great site to get a variety of sound effects from.
If you dont want sound notification or bubble pop up then unselect that notifier.
NB: sound configuration and notifier selection changes only takes effect when the application is restarted for Version 1.0
Thats it for configuration of Dinner Timer Lite, next lets put it to use.
Using Dinner Timer Lite:
Returning to the main window we see the 60 min default value in the drop down in the menu strip. If you want to work longer (or shorter) change the time here, but you will still only get 12 minutes slack time (sorry!)
When you are ready to start working hit the Start button.
The timer updates to show the time remaining, the start and completion times and how long the timer is running for, as well as a progress bar showing oddly enough the progress through the hour.
The timer also updates its transparency to the low visibility state (not shown in the screen shot), clicking on the minimize button sends Dinner Timer Lite to the tray, hover over it to get the time remaining for the hour. When its slack time we get prompted with a balloon from the system tray and some weird noise from the speakers, then when its time to get back to work more balloons and noises!
When youve finished your slack and are ready to start back remember to hit Stop and then Start again to start the next hour. And if you were slacking more than you should have been the timer keeps counting past the hour so you know how much work you skipped.
Cooking dinner whilst working.
Naturally if you are like me and stick some food in the oven and return to the computer to get a bit more work (ok, slack) done then just start up another Dinner Timer Lite and set the timer to run for how long your food needs cooking whilst the other GTD SOP #2 timer is running, however be warned that the settings will now be to warn you 12 minutes before dinner is ready as the settings are global.
Other uses of Dinner Timer Lite?
If you have found Dinner Timer Lite useful for timing something that you thing others would also benefit from then drop me a line, post a comment or something and I will look to add details about it and see if some simple improvements to Dinner Timer Lite can make it a better product.