Scenario OneThe neighbor kid comes over and announces, “I need to go home at 4:30,” or “I can only stay one hour.”I don’t want to be stuck anxiously watching the clock for the kid.Instead? I pull out the kitchen timer and set it to beep five minutes before he’s supposed to be home. That leaves just enough time for disappointed moans, quickly finishing that round of “Life” they were in the midst of, a quick cleanup, the inevitable shoe-hunt, and a sociable good-bye/see-you-tomorrow.Scenario TwoI have to leave for the doctor/flute lesson/lunch date/school pickup in an hour or so, but want to really focus on a writing project. Well, the creative attention that I need in order to devote myself to the project–on which I am so focused that I lose track of time–has frequently caused me to be late to whatever’s next.For a while, I overcompensated and kept close tabs on time, protecting myself from lateness, but rarely allowing myself to focus enough to be effectively creative. That habit became so inhibiting that I decided to return to the freedom of entering that creative state. I’m more productive during those windows of opportunity between appointments by trusting the alarm pull me out of my creative zone. It’s startling, but effective.Scenario ThreeAn unpleasant task awaits. I always imagine it’ll take three hours or more to accomplish anything unpleasant. The more I put it off, the larger it looms and more imposing it becomes.I started setting the timer for about 20 minutes, maybe 30, and then launching the unpleasantness. The goal, of course, is to beat the clock. And knowing that there’s an end to it minimizes the overwhelming feeling. I set the alarm, dive in, tackle it for the allotted minutes, and stop when it beeps.Scenario FourI meet a friend for lunch. She has to leave the restaurant before I do at a definite time in order to get to school on time for pick-up.We get involved in a long story and some deep philosophical discussion and completely lose track of time. In the middle of a sentence, she gasps.”I’m sorry, but what time is it?” she asks.I tell her, and she snatches her purse and leaps to her feet. “I’ve got to go!” She tears out of the restaurant, and our lunch is suddenly over.Next time I meet that friend for lunch, I’m setting my watch timer to alert us with five minutes to spare. Then she can leisurely enjoy a last sip of tea, we can tie up the end of a story, and she can head out without sprinting out the door or speeding to the school. And neither of us will be stuck envisioning her kids sitting on the curb, waiting with their backpacks, dejected and distraught.Save your emotional energy–letting a timer sound the alarm is simple and freeing.Click on this link to peruse my odd assortment of Works For Me Wednesday tips.And click here to return to today’s post at Rocks In My Dryer.