How First Grade Classroom Etiquette is Impacting Time-Management Rituals at Google Ventures

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Former Staff Writer
2 min read

One of the world’s most technologically trailblazing companies uses a rather rudimentary tool to ensure its meetings are running smoothly: an analog clock that Google's Jake Knapp initially saw in his son’s first grade classroom.

Known in schools as the "Magic Clock," the device shows outstanding time in red. “It makes time visible and tangible,” Knapp, a design partner at the tech giant's VC arm, Google Ventures, explained to Bloomberg. By displaying how many minutes are remaining, long-winded participants are cut off and shyer attendees feel compelled to speak up before it’s too late.

“I figured what worked for small children would probably work well for CEOs, too,” Knapp said. 

Related: 3 Ways to Avoid Distractions and Be More Productive

He, along with the rest of the design team, decided to put the Magic Clock to the test on startups funded by Google Ventures. During its five-day bootcamp, or "design sprint," Knapp sets a 20- to 30-minute time limit on certain activities. By doing so, he noticed teams were more cognizant of their time.

The 8-inch Time Timer, priced at roughly $25, also boasts a loud beep that is tougher to ignore than smartphone reminders, which can be shuttered by a mere swipe.

Use of the device has spread beyond the startup bootcamp. After graduating, startups continue to use it for other purposes beyond meetings. For instance, the CEO of CustomMade, Mike Salguero, said he uses the timer for “personal workday tracking” -- such as restricting emails to 30-minute increments.

Related: 4 Lessons From the Worst Business Meeting Ever

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