I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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Meridian procrastination hackOk, I like to be lazy and put things off. In an effort to break this habit, I’ve implemented the (10+2)5 procrastination hack with a shareware application called Meridian. So what is this (10+2)5 math mumbo jumbo, you ask? The idea is simple: dedicate a fixed amount of 10 minutes for work and 2 minutes for play. Repeat 5 times. Merlin Mann of 43 Folders has a better overview and elaborates:

  • 10 – Work for ten minutes with single-minded focus on moving toward completion on a single task. Ten minutes, and that’s all you’re allowed to do is work, work, work. No cheating, because (DING!) you actually get a break when you’re done…
  • 2 – After ten minutes of sweaty, dedicated work you get a 2-minute break to do whatever you want—drink coffee, read 5ives, call your bookie, whatever. When the two minutes are up, it’s back to work on the next task on your list. This is important.
  • 5 – You’re going to iterate this four more times for a total of one hour’s working/breaking
To implement this, I went on VersionTracker.com and downloaded a bunch of timer apps. Most were unsuitable, clunky, and unintuitive. Finally, I found Meridian. I like Meridian because it has multiple timers, didn’t take up a lot of screen real estate, and was fairly straightforward to set up. Plus, it looks quite handsome. Here’s how I set up Meridian for the (10+2)5 procrastination hack:

  1. Download Meridian and put in your Applications folder
  2. In the Preferences window, delete default timers, stopwatches and clocks The preferences window appears after you launch the application and hit “Continue” on the shareware notification window if you haven’t bought it. Meridian is loaded with an example clock, timer, and stopwatch each. I like to start with a clean slate, so delete I deleted them all before setting up my custom timers. To delete:
    1. Click on the “Clocks” icon
    2. Select the clock item in the list
    3. Click on the little substract symbol on the lower left corner of the window
    4. Repeat the above for “Timers” and “Stopwatches”
  3. Meridian preferencesCreate a “Work” timer
    1. Click on the “Timers” icon in the main navigation.
    2. Click the little plus symbol on the lower left corner of the window. A new timer will appear in the list.
    3. For “Title”, enter “Work”
    4. For “Window Level”, choose “Floating”
    5. For “Starting Time”, set it to “0:10:00”
  4. Create a “Play” timer Repeat the same steps as above, except for “Title”, enter “Play”. For “Starting Time”, set it to “0:02:00”
  5. Restore your Date & Time System Preferences Meridian replaces Mac OS X’s Date & Time in the menubar with their own version. If you don’t like this, you can turn it off.
    1. Click on the “Menu Bar” icon in the main naviation of the Meridian preferences window
    2. Uncheck “Show the Meridian Menu”
    3. Now go to your Mac’s System Preferences, choose “Date & Time” and make sure “Show the date and time” is checked.
Desktop with MeridianOnce you’ve set this up, you should see two timers floating on your screen. I like to move mine to the upper left of the screen, but you can put it anywhere you want.

To begin, just hit the start button on the “Work” timer. When you run out of work time, you’ll get an alert. After this, hit the start button on the “Play” timer. Repeat 5 times for a full cycle of the (10+2)*5 procrastination hack.

Since this is a Mac setup, can anyone suggest a good setup for our Windows readers?


  • Ana Lux

    gravatarJul 19, 2006
    1:47 pm

    I’d love to know a way to do that for Windows, ’cause I get so lost within work, emails and the web… I’d really thank anyone to tell us.

  • L. R.

    gravatarAug 28, 2006
    5:09 am

    A nice feature would be to be able to automatically start the “Play” timer once the “Work” timer is finished, and vice-versa, for a complete cycle. Anyone Applescripter here?

  • Chanpory

    gravatarAug 28, 2006
    7:04 am

    LR, for getting Work and Play timers to start automagically, check out Flextime and the tutorial I wrote:

  • Khoj Badami

    gravatarOct 18, 2006
    10:03 am

    Hey, Nice! You really spelled out the whole thing for everyone.

    Here is a nice link you might want to check out: http://www.indiahowto.com/how-to-stop-procrastinating.html

    It has all the procrastination overcoming techniques, causes, “make sure your child is not a procrastinator”, tips etc…all of it in one place. Maybe you will find it interesting!


  • seyv

    gravatarMay 7, 2008
    8:06 pm

    I’ve come up with a process that uses the default WYSIWYG editor (or a free service), 1 plugin and 1 CSS class to post any type of code into your WordPress blog.

  • Ben

    gravatarAug 23, 2010
    12:33 am

    I would recommend checking out the pomodoro method. It is very similar, except that it uses a 25/5 minute cycle as default. Most pomodoro software lets you customize this though.

    And there is software for mac, windows and several smartphones, for being productive on the go :)

  • dcsohl

    gravatarAug 23, 2010
    5:58 pm

    For Windows, I would recommend Instant Boss. It’s a small utility app built around the (10+2)*5 dash. Pops up a window each time a timer goes off, so you know it’s break time or work time. Hide the window, and you can see the timer in the status bar. Close the window altogether and it will live on in the system tray, and still put up windows as necessary.