BeforeYourNext Birthday-DeniseFisher’s Blog

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5 Ways “This American Life” Can Work For You – Act 2 – The Ideal Task Timer

Posted by denisefisher on February 1, 2009

imageBecause the radio program, This American Life (TAL, for short), runs about 60 minutes (or slightly less), it’s a great way to keep track of time without having to watch the clock. You can start listening to an episode while you do whatever you need to do, and know that Ira Glass will give you timely prompts as he tells you what act in the sequence is coming up next. Pace yourself, and finish in about an hour.

Find the Time
If you search through the website, you can find many episodes with summaries that tell you how long each segment in the program lasts. Listen to the streaming podcast that corresponds with the number of tasks in your project and you’ll be able to move in rhythm to the show. If you’re undertaking a project that can be sub-divided into three or four steps, and you have selected a program with three or four acts, you will get an audible reminder when it’s time to move on to your next step.

One Major Task
If you have a single substantial task that you need to do, you can find an episode with a longer story in the middle. For example, listen to the episode titled, Welcome to America. There are three acts of various lengths – 5 minutes, then 31 minutes, then 15 minutes. Which gives you
5 minutes to get started
31 minutes to work on your task
15 minutes to wrap it up and put things away

Which makes TAL the ideal task timer.

The Clock is Ticking
If you’re just doing miscellaneous things (like sorting through the mail, putting away dishes, and straightening up around the house), but you don’t want to get carried away and forget to leave on time to pick someone up or keep with your next scheduled task, you might want to look for a differently timed program, like 20 Acts in 60 Minutes. The pace of that episode will keep you aware of the passing time, and it’s eventual conclusion.

Four Equal Tasks
Another timing strategy is to select a program with a more even division of its acts. You can reorganize four drawers in your dresser or clean out four designated shelves or compartments in your refrigerator while listening to the four-act episode of Office Politics. Its stories are 12, 15, 15, and 14 minutes long. Perfect for a project that can be divided into four segments of relatively equal time allotments.

More Ways to Use the TAL Task Timer with Your Appliances:

The Dryer
Start the show when you put your load into the dryer – you’ll have enough listening time to dry your clothes, with a timed reminder to get your clothes out and fold or hang them up. No annoying timer buzzer, and no ironing or a dryer re-fluff needed.

The Washer
For those with clotheslines and a portable way of listening … start the show as you load the clothes in the washer. Somewhere between the acts that are more than halfway through the program, the wash cycle will be completed. Then take your TAL program with you to listen to while you transfer your laundry to clotheslines or drying racks. No more forgotten laundry loads abandoned in the washer.

The Oven
Whether you’re baking whole wheat bread, a batch of brownies, a pan of lasagna, or a roasted entree that’ll provide several meals for the upcoming week, TAL is the perfect accompaniment. The built-in one-hour timer of the show will prompt you to keep the process moving and incite you to finish your clean-up before the program ends. You’d better be cleaning up when the final act begins.

I’m telling you, This American Life is the ideal task timer. You’ve got to try it. I’m recommending these programs for this tip:

#124 Welcome to America (5-31-15 minute acts)

#241 20 Acts in 60 Minutes (short stories in rapid-fire succession)

#208 Office Politics (12-15-15-14 minute acts)

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4 Responses to “5 Ways “This American Life” Can Work For You – Act 2 – The Ideal Task Timer”

  1. Mary q Contrarie said

    What a great idea for using TAL. If you want to do even more for America and the environment you can use a clothes drying rack to hang your clothes on. To help reduce that carbon foot print while enjoying a great radio show.

  2. I’m with you Mary. If you noticed, I did mention clothes lines and drying racks before mentioning the dryer. I prefer air drying most of the time (I have sheets hanging out on the line right now – who doesn’t love the smell of line-dried sheets on their bed?). Even if one were not environmentally conscious, it’s also a financially responsible thing to do. Plus, you can’t easily hear the TAL program with a noisy dryer in the background. (Thanks for the link and for your comment – yours is the first one on my newly started blog, so I’ve got this “new blogger” excitement as my site is discovered.)

  3. […] listen to podcasts or audio books (or my favorite, This American Life) […]

  4. Interesting blog, my friend! I have an interest in real estate and affordable housing options and I am always on the lookout for new and interesting sites and postings about new styles and designs of transportable homes and in particular relocatable homes for sale… which is what led me here. At any rate i just wanted to check in as I certainly plan on visiting again! Cheers!

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