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Cool stuff that works: Gymboss dual timer

Gymboss 2009 PinkWith so many poorly designed, crapola products out there, it’s a rare treat to discover cool stuff that works. Seriously, when I stumble upon something simple, affordable, and functional that actually solves a problem in my life it’s hard to resist the temptation to tell people about it. For social recluses like me, “telling people” equals blogging, so read on!

The Gymboss 2009 dual timer is my most recent source of consumer joy. It’s designed for use in the gym (duh), to help you keep track of intervals, rest periods, metabolic circuits, or whatever special timing your workout involves. But the dual timer function is also useful for reminding you to do other repetitive tasks. Even with the best of intentions, it can be tough to remember to do certain things regularly throughout the day. Here are some off-the-top-of-my-head examples:

Avoiding desk fatigue with scheduled mini breaks (this is a big one for me):
Timer 1: 45 minutes (work time)
Timer 2: 2-5 minutes (get up, stretch, rehab exercises)
Repeats: 2-3 (then take a proper break)

Tracking billable freelance hours:
Timer 1: 15 minutes (time spent doing billable work)
Timer 2: 15-30 seconds (short break to note down billable period on time sheet)
Repeats: 3-4 (then take a proper break before you get back to your billable work)

Guitar Practice:
Timer 1: 2 minutes (practicing a particular exercise)
Timer 2: 60 seconds (rest, stretch, setup next exercise).
Repeats: Say, 10 for a 30-minute practice session.

Kicking procrastination’s ass a la Merlin Mann’s 10+2*5 method
Timer 1: 10 minutes (doing productive work)
Timer 2: 2 minutes (dicking around as a reward for doing productive work)
Repeats: 5. Congratulations, you’ve just worked a productive 50 minutes!

The Gymboss is easy to learn to use, and offers the following useful options:

- 1 or 2 timers
- Manual or automatic repeats (either infinite or a set number of repeats)
- Alarms: High beep, Low beep, Vibrate, High beep + Vibrate, Low beep + vibrate

I bought my Gymboss solely for use in the gym a couple of months ago, and by now I don’t know how I ever managed without it. What I didn’t expect is that this clever little timer would make it so satisfying (in a geeky kind of way) to program my “intervals” for other everyday activities. When something is more fun and satisfying as opposed to just “good for you,” you’re more likely to actually do it.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, it comes in PINK.

Gymboss on Amazon (aff link)

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+ Comment by Rob
2009-10-28 21:30:51

Hey Lori, and I bet you got a pink one? :bunny:

As for me, I would get quite annoyed by something like that. Some personal remarks from my side:
- To avoid desk fatigue it can come in handy, but there is way better designed software around that keeps track of your keyboard-hits, mouse movements, etc. It adjusts the needed (mini)breaks to the activities that you do.
- Tracking billable hours. Why not noting the start and ending time of your task (also if you take a break, write it down). It sounds pretty demanding to write the time down every x minutes. In the end you might write time in advance, so you don’t need to write it down every x minutes.
- Guitar practise. Okay that’s your business. No experience with that ;-)
- Procrastination. What’s actually the problem behind this? Often it’s about less interesting task that has to be done, but you don’t want to either start or restart it. Would it help to regulate it by using timesteps? I wouldn’t think so (you keep disliking the task and you’re constantly watching the clock). Why not by using deadlines about the content of the task? I want to finish this part of my task at x o’clock. To get it done, I think I will need this amount of time, including breaks, so I have to start at x o’clock. If you don’t succeed in the end finishing the task in time, you will get in one way or another feedback. You can then use it to learn and take actions to it. A usefull help might be to make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Acceptable, Realistic/Relevant and Time-bound) to keep track of your goals and planning.
As for the 10 + 2 * 5, it’s just so relative. For pretty numb work it might help as it kinda helps you to make it less annoying (you won’t constantly long for a break). But if that’s your daily business, why not checking out a new job which creates new and interesting challanges for you? You certainly won’t need a timer then…

Nevertheless, I’m happy for you that it helps you to do the things you want to do — which is after all what counts, isn’t it? ;-)

Cheerio! :guitar:

+ Comment by Lorinator
2009-10-29 12:38:53

Rather than explain point-by-point my rationale behind the way I choose to do things, I will simply concede that we will have to agree to disagree!

+ Comment by Rob
2009-10-29 22:36:03

No problem :wink:

+ Comment by Corny
2009-10-31 17:22:35

Hey Rob,
I don’t know if you know that much about procrastination, but in most cases, there are deeper issues which can’t be fixed with simple deadlines and stuff like that.

The timer seems to be great for guitar players, thanks for the hint!

For my everyday routine, I noticed, that forcing myself to stick to timetables just doesn’t work. Some people just aren’t made for 45 minutes work, 5 minutes break, 45 minutes work, me thinks.

Cool to see you blog again. :)

+ Comment by jomaheux
2009-10-31 23:18:20

I told myself to wash the dishes before sending my comment…
No kidding! And i did!

I fact,today,i actually managed to kick myself to do a little but quite obvious clean up of the kitchen space.

Interestingly,procrastination about doing something that has to be done,but that we think is not “stimulating”,”fun” or “gratifiying”,can resemble trying to stop doing something that we feel we’d be better off not doing but can’t help doing.

I think it’s both side of the same coin.

Habits are as hard to break as they are to developpe intentionally.

+ Comment by andres
2009-11-07 04:11:03

consumer joy!
I was looking for weeks for a way to say just that, then eventually gave up ,and sure enough then I find the answer.Thanks
BTW amazing f´in solos in Guilt Machine

+ Comment by Dave Seah
2009-12-20 01:36:46

GLEE!!! I went and ordered one immediately, though mine is in manly gun metal gray. I just got it, am going to give it a spin soon.

+ Comment by Lorinator
2009-12-20 12:18:47

Hope you like it as much as I do, Dave. For the gym I’ve found it indispensable for keeping track of my rest periods and metabolic circuits. I’m sure that if anyone is going to do it, YOU will be able to think of novel applications!


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