Ticker tube

What is a ticker tube?
How does the tube work?
Why is it called a ticker tube?
Ticker tube success story
Is it hocus-pocus?
Case study
Complete list of users

What is a ticker tube?

A ticker tube is a small canister worn as a pendant over the heart. Inside the tube is a piece of paper on which is written a task to perform, and/or an action to be avoided. Additionally, “thoughts” can be “stored” in the tube.


The copper colored tube in the picture contains actions to be avoided (a not-to-do list). The olive tube contains tasks to be performed (a to-do list).

The tasks, as noted, can be written down and placed in the tube, or they can be projected into the tube.

Here is one way to project a thought into the tube. Open the tube. Lift it up like a microphone and speak into it. Replace the cover.

How does the tube work?

We don’t know. Experience shows that for some people the tube facilitates the accomplishment of tasks.

On one level, a ticker tube is not that different than writing a task in a notebook, or in a smartphone app. The very act of writing and speaking out a task can be helpful.

However, something more seems to happen when a task is worn over the heart. Our research is exploring the curious impact a ticker tube has on thought, speech, and behavior.

A tentative theory is that the tube works like a “clicker.” Before proceeding, you may want to investigate “clicker training“, and how it’s used to train animals.

A clicker gives an animal a more immediate reward for positive behavior than giving the animal a treat. For example, let’s say a trainer wants to teach a dog to sit. The trainer can say, “Sit”, and when the dog, on its own, sits, the owner can reward the dog with a treat.

A refinement of this method is to make a click sound immediately following the dog sitting. The treat is still given. But apparently it is easier for the dog to make the connection between the command and its, the dog’s, own action when a click is added to the mix. The click is made before the treat is given.

To transform this idea into the human realm, we substitute the ticker tube for the trainer and clicker.

The command is what is written and placed, or spoken into, the ticker tube. As soon as the action is performed (with a task to be performed) or suppressed (as with an action to be avoided) the “heart” — that is, seat of emotions — connects the activity with the tube. That emotional connect is the “click”, or as we term it here, the “tick”. Later, a reward can be given, such as taking a break.


It is important that the tube contain a limited number of tasks. Ideally, start with a single task in the tube.

A laser focuses light energy into a point. A mattock focuses gravitational energy into a point. To be lasermattock (pronounced laser-matic) is to focus one’s entire being and resources on the task that is contained in the tube.

Why is it called a ticker tube?

Canisters are tube shaped. That explains the “tube” part.

“Ticker” is an informal name for a watch. Ultimately, time management plays a critical role in task management.

“Ticker” is also an informal name for the heart. Drawing the “heart” into a task can be critical for accomplishing a task.

Touching the tube can be part of the process of using a ticker tube. We call these brief touches “ticks”. This is consistent with the definition of a tick as a “a slight, sharp, recurring click, tap, or beat“, and as a “light rhythmic audible tap or beat“.

“Tick” also can mean “check”, as in checking off a task on a list. Thus, when a task is completed the user can tick it off by touching, or ticking, the tube.

The task in the tube is a “ticket” in the sense of giving permission. The heart can be overwhelmed by requests. The paper in the tube is a ticket giving the task written on it the right to “enter” the heart. It is also a ticket in the sense of an obligation to pay, or do, the task, as a traffic ticket obligates one to pay a fine.

A ticker tube is also called a task flask.

Can you give an example of a successful use of a ticker tube?

I am a goatherd. I had a bad habit. The habit developed over time. I found myself talking out loud while with the goats.

This can be good when running down a checklist of things to do and that will put me in the proper frame of mind for the task before me.

Yet too often I also said things I wouldn’t say out loud in human company and which afterwards I regretted saying. I wrote a note not to say things like that out loud and placed it in the copper colored tube pictured above.

Sometimes when I would catch a thought and suppress it before speaking it, I would emphasize the victory and grab the gold tube (with the not-to-do task inside) and press it into my heart, give it a quick tick, or just focus my attention on the tube for an instant. The frequency of my speaking out the things I didn’t want to say out loud steadily decreased to almost zero.

This process has worked in getting me to quit my bad habit. Not that the goats cared one way or the other. But it’s made a difference in my life.

Isn’t all this magic the same as amulets and talismans?

No. Nothing magical here.

There is a superficial similarity, though. Talismans and amulets are used in a positive and negative way, to bring good luck or to ward off evil. That is, some people ascribe mystical powers to objects.

That approach implies an outside agency alone is involved. We do not deny that there are metaphysical forces in the universe. Our emphasis is on those forces residing within a man or woman himself or herself, and the control they have over these forces. Our emphasis is on people exercising free will, not resigning themselves to an outside force.

In other words, the ticker tube does not exert control over a person. A person exerts control over himself or herself by using a ticker tube, in the same way they might use a laser to burn a hole or a mattock to dig a hole. Like water dripping on a rock, the tube makes steady inroads into the resistance someone has to change.