Super Tomato Timer

What Inspires: 60-minute Kitchen Timers That tomato-shaped 60-minute kitchen timer perched on the spice shelf fills me with hope for the future…

Back when I was a teen, along with my mother, I was addicted to old movie—especially those all afternoon long Saturday and Sunday movie marathons. Weekend mornings we often went straight from our beds to the couch where we’d spend much of the day—sometimes late into the night—lounging in our comfy jammies watching movies—so many great movies; so many relaxing weekends.

Alas, relaxing weekend often found us scrambling Sunday night to finish chores, laundry, homework, housework… (Somehow, my brother, whose movie taste was different from ours, managed to skip out on our movie fests and the Sunday night hurry hurry scurry freak outs…go figure?) Then one weekend my mother had a brilliant idea: Let’s set the KITCHEN TIMER! At commercial breaks, news intervals, movie bits we’d seen and didn’t care if we saw again, we’d set the timer for a set number of minutes-depending. Then we’d jump up and race around doing chores until DING!

Mom’s Kitchen Timer Method (KTM) worked. We both, separately, still use it when we have chores we’re not crazy about doing. Yuck, tedious jobs like closet culling, file sorting, and spring cleaning, are so much easier to start when you know you can walk away after, say, 5 minutes… (okay, maybe not 5 but 20 works.) And it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re racing the timer.

As brilliant as KTM was, I thought it was worth trying with my kids since cajoling, begging, bribing, and misleading didn't. “Time to clean your rooms,” I’d say. “We’re going to play a game of pick up toys,” I’d say. “I have a fun idea, let’s dust!” Feeling quite clever, I pulled out the happy red tomato timer. “10 minutes,” I told Max and Lexi as I set the tomato ticking. “Let’s see how many socks we can sort in 10 minutes.”

“NO! NO! NO! crying and squealing they begged and pleaded, “NOT the Timer! Please, No. Not that…” No clue why. It wasn’t as though they’d be zapped with an electric current when the time dinged. (although it’s not a bad idea…)

I hadn’t thought about KTM for a long time, probably since my kids were little. But a recent discussion by my writer’s group prompted by C.J. Omololu’s Write in Ninety Days (or Less) blog posting:  has most everyone clicking ferociously to make daily 1000 word deadlines. In her post C.J. notes that writing that many words isn’t so much, in fact it only takes 1 or 1 ½ hours a day.

I’m not writing a new novel draft, nor do I plan to climb aboard the 1000-words train. I primarily write picture books, which if 1000 words, are considered way long. And, I'm revising, which also doesn’t fit the 1000 word goal. But both of those do fit the 1 ½ hour goal. How much progress could I make at 1 1/2 hours every day/7 days in every week? I didn't figure it out, but I did start singing songs from The Pajama Game...

I don’t have any trouble e-mail for 1 ½ hours a day; or talk on the phone for hours; or fiddle around various blogs, Facebook pages, and internet sights. Nor, as old habits die hard, is it difficult to watch TV or movies, or read a good book for 1 ½ hours a day. In all of these case that 1 ½ hours is often longer, and rarely intended. In truth the time I spend doing all of those others is often the reason I don’t “find” time to write.

I’m reverting to good ole’ Mom’s KTM. Right now, that happy tomato kitchen timer is ticking off the minutes I am committing to writing this blog posting. After it dings. I’m getting up, going potty, getting coffee and setting it for 60 minutes. Those 60 minutes will be devoted exclusively to writing. No excuses, no interrupitons. And hopefully another 30 after that.

No, I do not expect to spend the rest of my days having my every movement dictated by Tomato ticks and dings.  But for now, if that’s what it takes to keep me on task and on track, Come on Kitchen Timer—DING!

P.S. I had planned to upload a photo of my adorable Tomato Kitchen Timer, but times up!