Miracle Cube Timer
I'm really liking the "Miracle Cube Timer" by Datexx. It's dead-simple to use (no buttons to press), and while it does have a countdown timer, it's very small and easy to hide and won't distract.
Here are a few ways I've used this timer:
- Quickly timebox an activity. Sitting down to work on a meaty problem? Set a 30 minute timer. If the timer goes off and you're not making progress, figure out what needs to change.
- Follow up on notifications. When you get a 10 minute meeting reminder, set a 5 minute timer on the cube. Find a stopping point on your current task before those 5 minutes are up: when the timer goes off, that's your last chance to stretch your legs, use the bathroom, or refill your drink.
- Use the Pomodoro technique. Quickly create timers for 30 minute work periods and 5 minute breaks without fiddling with apps on your phone or computer. (Traditional Pomodoro uses 25 minute work/5 minute rest, but I found the 5/15/30/60 timer less expensive and more aesthetically pleasing than the red 5/10/20/25 timer.)
All these things are possible with any timer, but the simple, unobtrusive interface of the cube doesn't break my concentration. I find myself reaching for it often, if only just as a reminder that time is passing (say, reminding myself that a meeting is half over).