Picking a Timer for Organizing Projects

In the 31 Days of Clutter-Free Living series, I mentioned the importance of setting a timer and going full force with your organizing project for as little as 15 minutes. Picking a timer for your organizing projects couldn’t be easier.

Using a timer for Organizing Projects

You can do anything for just 15 minutes!

A good, easy to use timer is an important tool in your organizing journey. Fortunately, you have one as close as your phone. Learn how to use your favorite timer, and you might never lose an entire day to organizing again. The trick is to set your timer and stay completely focused for 15 minutes. No Facebook. No cruising to the fridge. No whining about how much you hate organizing. Don’t stop to work on a project or wander away and forget what you left the room for. Just do it for 15 minutes.

This actually has a fancy name: the Pomodoro Method.

If you own an iPhone or an iPad, be sure you are updated to the latest software (Settings, General, Software Update). Then go find the nifty timer/alarm/stopwatch that Apple just included. It’s a magical now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t tool that Apple hid at the bottom of the screen. Just swipe up from anywhere on the very bottom of the screen, and you’ll get a little hidden menu bar that looks like this:

finding the timer on an ipad

See that little dial on the right that looks like a dark clock? Tap there, and you’ll get a menu with 4 little icons at the bottom for a World Clock, Alarm, Stopwatch, and Timer (shown as red below). It’s the last one we want, so tap there.

using an ipad timer to organize

Set the dial for 15 minutes and click start. I love this pretty little timer.

15 minute timer for organizing

If you have an Android phone or tablet, you can download timer apps from the PlayStore. Or check your gadget’s menus for a built-in timer. And if you don’t have a tablet or smartphone, keep reading…

I can easily set an audible alarm for 15 minutes even on my old dumb-phone.

Of course, you can always use the microwave or oven timer, both my favorites.

The Time Timer lets you “see” time evaporating as the red dial disappears. It’s available both as a physical product and as a downloadable app that my kids actually ask me to turn on in the mornings.

time timer for organizing

I love my Time Timer MOD in teal.

blue teal productivity tools timer and sharpie


Your organizing homework today is simply to find a timer that you love and know how to easily set for 15 minutes.

For extra credit, you can try it out and sit for just 15 minutes going through your papers on your desk, kitchen counter, or dining room table.

No, you won’t clear out months or years worth of paper clutter in just 15 minutes, but you will have done more organizing today that you might have recently. And if you are on a roll when it beeps, you can go again for another 15 minutes, but then go have some fun.

Because remember, we don’t organize just for fun. Well, maybe I do. But we organize so that we can stay on top of our commitments and enjoy the rest of our life.

So go set your timer, organize without distraction for 15 minutes, and when the timer goes off, pat yourself on the beck and meet me here tomorrow. Don’t miss a day of Clutter-Free Living series. Click here. 31 Days of Clutter-Free Living Organizing

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This Post Has 43 Comments

  1. Samantha

    What a great idea, I really have to make organizing a top priority for this year, especially the paper clutter I have. My main problem I always have is getting distracted when sorting….this 15min timer task sounds like it would keep me focused. Going to give it a try, thanks for the app link.

    1. Darla

      Yes, distraction is a huge issue for all of us. Let me know if the 15 minute chunks helps you stay focused and get more done.

  2. Sherri Howell

    I use the timer on my iphone. Great post.

  3. Karen Emerson

    I love the timer on my phone! EASY!!

  4. Sandra

    I’m going to try the timer on my iPod – I never knew it existed!

    1. Darla

      Hey, Sandra, I don’t own an iPod, so let me know if you find it there. You might want to make sure all the software is up to date.

  5. Penny M

    I am going to try the timer on my phone.

    1. Darla

      Great! Let me know how it goes.

  6. tammigirl

    I have seen this 15 minute theory before and remember using it to great success. Then I stopped. Now I will have to do it again with the phone.

    The only timers I use right now are the ones on my stove and microwave. This will be my new favorite!

    1. Darla

      Let me know how it goes. I think that’s what makes us human. Something works for a hill, then we head into a new phase, and do something else. Let me know if the 15-minute blocks help you focus.

  7. tammigirl

    By this, I mean using the phone. I think I’ll use the one built into my iPhone.

  8. Tanya Taylor

    I use a timer on my phone for planks – it works great!

    1. Tanya

      I found this app to be much more robust than I expected. I really the the filters and ability to put tasks in folders (or categories). This is a perfect solution for me! Now I can stop writing down notes and tracking pieces of paper to get things accomplished!

      1. Darla

        Great! Fewer lists! More done!

  9. Allison

    I know this is great, I used to do it at work and wow did it help my stress level. The hardest part is sticking with it. . I should probably set an alarm tio remind me.

    1. Darla

      Yes! LOL

  10. Rust

    I use my phone timer and really like it. I enjoyed your review!

  11. Melissa George

    My favorite timer is my watch which i use everytime and its okay. i will use the one in samsung i like that better.

  12. RJ

    I use a standard kitchen timer. I lug it around with me everywhere. I even put it on while I’m online so too much time doesn’t slip by while I’m taking a break.

  13. Brian

    I use the timer on my Windows phone, it has great stopwatch features. I would definitely use this timer app and can think of great applications. De-cluttering home and office spaces in small windows (15 to 30 min), timing/tracking use of video games or the computer (it’s amazing how fast time slips away), and timing the kids when brushing their teeth (2 minutes minimum)! Thanks for the post, this is great.

  14. Angela W

    I use the alarm and timer on my phone now which is a Samsung.

  15. Molli Vandehey

    i dont really like any of the ones i have used, actually

    1. Darla

      Molli, I hear you. Having a timer that is easy to use can be so important, but it has to be something you like to use. Maybe you’ll win this tablet, and then you’ll have a good one, for sure.

  16. Wendy Mastin

    I use my watch, since I don’t have a smart phone or a tablet.

    1. Darla

      I can never figure out how to use the timer on my sports watch. True story.

  17. one of God's

    I have and use a Flylady timer. Don’t know another with which to compare so will consider it my favorite.

    1. Darla

      I’m actually not familiar with that timer. I’ll have to go look it up. Thanks for stopping by.

  18. Jayne

    Downloaded timer app from Play Store, ready to start!

    1. Darla

      That might be the best comment yet. You’re getting things done! Thanks for stopping by.

  19. Jim Lipscomb

    I do this with house chores also, but have always just looked at the clock with a “ready set go” attitude. I like using a tablet for the routine, this is a great tip.

  20. Jim Lipscomb

    By the way if you download the Google voice recognition app on the Playstore you can simply tap the microphone icon and announce “Google, start timer, fifteen minutes.” This seems like a fun start to the routine.

    1. Darla

      Thanks for this tip. I don’t use my voice activated thingamajig nearly enough.

  21. Colt Sebastian Taylor

    When I am on my adventures, I often use the apple timer or a sundial. Mostly the apple timer at night.

  22. Anne Meibohm

    I have a couple of sport watches with timers which I need to better use of for organizing. I’ll have to look into downloading ones for my Ipod or Nook HD if there isn’t a timer already.

  23. kelli

    My main problem is paper clutter. I had already decided to get all my filing up to date by the end of this month, before I found this blog. I am embarassed to admit that I still had stuff in my pile from 2012! :/

    1. Darla

      Hi, Kelli, there are those among us who think that having un-filed papers only from 2012 counts as being organized! Kudos for making your way here. I hope the 31 Days of Clutter-Free Living series is helping you. Please let us know if you have any specific questions.

  24. Donna Costello

    So happy to have had the opportunity to hear your 10 steps to getting organized at the Philly Home Show. Your tips will help me both personally and professionally!

    1. Darla

      Donna, it was so great to meet you. Thanks for coming out to the Philly Home Show.

  25. Gwendolyn Gamble

    Hi Darla, I really needed the tips you shared with me today.I now work out of my home and I truly needed simplified information on how to restructure my office at home. It was very over whelming coming from a very large office and now have to recreate it in a smaller space. I will invest in getting the shelving unit from Ikea I believe this unit will really help me in my organizing my office as well as my crochet and knitting materials. Also the kitchen organize information has also helped me to revisit the drawers and get rid of the items that have not been used in years. Thanks again for the tips and look forward to more money saving ideas!!

    1. Darla

      Gwendolyn, I love your name. I’m so glad you came out to the show, and that you got the tips you needed. Please stay in touch and let me know how your progress is coming.

  26. Melinda Stephens

    I have a music timer app on my iPhone. I love it because I can set it to play upbeat music for a certain amount of time. The music helps me feel energized for getting stuff done too. a hidden timer seems like it would be a great alternative for when my son is being silly and has decided that I’m not allowed to listen to music.

    1. Darla

      This sounds great. Can you post what the name of the app is? “Sounds like” a great idea!

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