I mentioned recently that I sometimes use a cheap little sand timer when I want to know when to stop, but don’t want to be directly interrupted by beeps or alerts. The sand runs out quietly. At some point later, I notice the time is up and I bring the work to a stop.
Except when the sand timer gets stuck. My half-hour timer—just that one—every once in a while, stops dropping sand. It’s a pretty teeny stream of falling sand that I can easily miss at a glance. So it’s not at all obvious if it stops. I get into the flow of work. I’m thinking, “yeup, in the flow state.” I’m tearing along, confident that my little sand timer will quietly let me know when to stop.
…and like two hours later I notice the room is getting cold because I haven’t fed the wood stove. Wait wat. *taps sand timer* oh.
I can’t decide if this is good or bad. It’s like deep work roulette. I think I’m going to do a half-hour dash, but maybe I’m going down the rabbit hole. I could easily replace the cheap little sand timer, but I like the randomness of it. The analog-ness of it. Not only is its time keeping approximate, but sometimes it’s totally not keeping time.
Too much planning and structure kills spontaneity.