FlyLady says that "you can do anything for 15 minutes".
I love just about everything about FlyLady's system. However, one of my favourite things is the use of the timer to help keep me focussed.
One of my problems is that I am easily distracted. I will start on one project, think about something else, go do that, think of something else, start on that, and so on. Before I know it I have worked myself into exhaustion and have finished nothing all day to show for my efforts. The timer helps keep my focussed on one project/job/task at a time.
On days that I need to complete a lot I will set my timer for 15 minutes and work on one task for the full 15 minutes. I will stop that task when the timer goes off and move on to another task. This usually happens on good days, where the pain is tolerable. I will work on one task, for example, clearing clutter in one room, then I move to 15 minutes doing computer work, then 15 minutes cleaning a focus zone, then 15 minutes reading. I try to alternate from something physical to something sedentary, and including a 15 minute "break" every third 15 minute session. This is what I call my 15 minute day, and I find that I am most productive these days.
If I am working on a web job or a portrait, 15 minutes does not give me enough time to really get into the zone, so I will set the timer for an hour or two. This reminds me to get up and stretch.
Another way to use the timer is to force myself to do something that needs to be done but that I really don't want to do (or feel like doing). I can do anything for 15 minutes (or 10, or 7, or 5). If I really don't want to empty the dishwasher and refill it I will set the timer for 15 minutes and go to it. Funny thing, I can usually have it all done in less that 4 minutes. Ironing is something I detest and avoid if I can. However, if I have to iron, I will set the timer for 15 minutes and iron until the timer goes off, then stop. Quite often I am finished before the timer goes off.
The timer can be used to help me focus on one job/task at at time, and it can be used to get me to do a job/task I hate or am avoiding. Either way, the timer is my best friend.
This year FlyLady says "Go for 7 in 2011" so if 15 minutes is too much, go for seven minutes!