I love this simple timer!


Deep work is hard these days, what with the internet's ever-addictive distractions and all, but more valuable than ever -- especially to me, as a prolific writer.

I believe in not mixing business with pleasure -- or, work with fun (like social media, YouTube videos, Twitter bickering, Amazon shopping, games and so on). I see so many people falling into the continuous partial attention trap where they're never fully working, never fully playing and never fully engaging with the people around them. Such people are never fully living.

And I want to avoid that. My goal is to, at any given time, be fully working, fully playing or giving my full attention to family and friends.

I also believe attention management will become a major application for consumer and business electronics.

And when I work, I like to have a gun to my head -- a deadline that drives me to work faster.

Pomodoro is impossible. 25 minutes of work between breaks? The breaks themselves become attention-exploding, creativity-killing distractions.

Two hours is more like it. Two hours of deep work, with ten-minute breaks between, fits my schedule just about right.

I like a big, visible timer doing the countdown. My iPad is perfect for that while I write with my Pixelbook.

Trouble is, iPad timers are annoying. They're either freemium, which means I have to pay or see ads, or they're super fugly, which is another annoyance.

I've been looking for a non-annoying, pleasant and elegant iPad timer for years. And I finally found one.

It's called Big Timer for iPhone and iPad. (They’ve got an Apple TV app, too.)

Big Timer has one review. The app is two years old. I don't care. It's beautiful, elegant and has a minimal and simple user interface. It also comes with a range of fun robot-voice timer sounds.

My favorite way to use it while hammering away on a deadline is to put the Big Timer side-by-side with Apple's World Clock app, where I have three time zones: one where my family is; one where my editors are; and one where I am. I use Big Timer’s grey background, and there’s no distracting color on my iPad screen.

This combination keeps me centered and contextually aware, which helps me focus on the task at hand.