Using Hourglass Clock Timers for the Pomodoro Technique

It’s no secret that I enjoy using the Pomodoro Technique for task management. The brain can only handle so much activity in a single sprint, and the use of 25 minute focus periods followed by 5-10 minute rest periods has upped my productivity by more than double. While I normally use Tomato Timer to measure time, I decided to experiment with some physical hourglass clock timers to see if that had any affect on my efficiency. Supposedly the use of an hourglass can help with putting a person “in the zone” due to auditory (sand falling) and visual (seeing the timer flipped) feedback.

To this end, I snagged a pair of Atentif Hourglass Clock Timers using black and gold sand, providing 25 minutes and 5 minutes of time measurement, respectively.

The results have been varied.

Good Vibrations

I like having the feel of a physical timer. It feels more official to activate the 25 minute timer because there’s no real way to “reset” the hourglass once it’s flipped. I just have to wait until the sand has fallen. This translates into making absolutely sure that I have secured my desk against all interruptions. The same goes for the 5 minute timer. I usually flip it and then go perform a chore around the house or play a quick game of Clash Royale to relax my thoughts.

Thanks, Pomodoro!


The down side is that there’s no indicator that I’ve reached the end of a sprint. I find myself sometimes taking too long within either time period because I was so focused on a task that I didn’t realize the sand has finished falling. Because I like to work with music playing, there’s zero chance I’ll hear the sand falling (or not falling). I have the top end of the hourglass jutting a little bit into my work space, which helps, but ultimately I haven’t found a good solution to noticing when the hourglass has finished.

Sadly, I’ve ceased using the hourglass clock timers for this reason. They still sit on my desk and I do enjoy using them for quiet tasks and exercise as a “focus point.” However, the use of a timer that can alert when finished is really the only way to go when sticking to a strict Pomodoro cycle. To be clear, I don’t fault Atentif at all. The timers are very well made and quite lovely, but would need to be filled with whatever goes in a rain stick in order to be heard over everything else in the room. 🙂