Time is one of most valuable assets anyone has. Minute by minute, hour by hour, how we spend it determines our lives. Most traders spend a disproportionate amount of time online. Not only trading, but analysing, reading blogs, websites and other news sources, writing and reading messageboards, coming up with ideas, backtesting, writing and answering emails, etc.
The internet is a very powerful tool but it can easily become a black hole when it comes to your valuable time. This is because the very thing that makes the web so useful - being chock full of information - makes it the ultimate weapon of mass distraction. You start reading your morning mail and find a link from a friend about a certain post on a blog. You follow it and after reading that, you click on a trackback link that takes you to another blog, which has a reference to this great article in the NY Times… and so on. Before you know it, you’ve spend more than 45 minutes just popping from one link to another and you’ve really accomplished nothing from your daily tasks.
I’m going to give you a tool that will curb such distractions and boost your productivity. It is a simple, old-fashioned, count down timer. Well, not that old fashioned. It’s digital and sits on your computer’s desktop.
A timer boosts your productivity two ways. The first, is obvious: it keeps track of time and tells you when the alloted time is over. The second is a bit more subtle. A timer introduces urgency into your tasks. Eventhough it is really artificial urgency, it still works because your subconscious doesn’t know the difference. You find yourself trying to ‘beat the clock’.
The best desktop timer that I have found so far is Multi Timer:
Here’s what I like about it: its freeware, its very small, it uses very little resources and its a snap to use.
But what makes it my favourite is that it is really 10 timers in one. Each timer has its own tab and can be customized with a name and time interval. This lets you map out your time for several concurrent tasks with only one setup. All you have to do is add up the start time for each successive timer so that it cascades. Here’s what I mean.
Let’s you want to spend your morning: reading and answering emails (20 min.), reading some news (10 min.), reading your favourite blogs (15 min.), and then running scans (20 min.). You would create a tab and name it ‘email’ and set it for 20 minutes. Then another tab named ‘news’ set for 30 minutes (20 min. + 10 min.), then a tab for ‘blogs’ for 45 minutes (20 min. + 10 min. + 15 min.), and a tab for ’scans’ set for 65 minutes (20 min. + 10 min. + 15 min. + 20 min.). Finally, press start for each of them. Multi Timer will start the countdowns and alert you, via a popup and/or audio, when the time has finished for each task.
Try it. You’ll be hooked. And in case you’re hesitating because you think this means you’ll transform into a robot, and lose spontaneity, just remember that it is you who is setting the timers and the tasks. Multi Timer is simply a tool.
For maximum results, drop Multi Timer into your Start folder so it opens when you start your computer. And when using it, minimize it to the tray so it is out of the way. The only quibble you may have is that the alarm sound is not customizable. But considering the price, I’m betting you’ll let that slide
For other neat little programs, check out this great library of freeware.
Enjoyed this? Don't miss the next one, grab the feed or