Hello. I'm assuming that you basically have no experience in programming, from your comments above. If that's the case, you may have figured that you're a bit of a hard case to help. Given that you have figured out ways to make things work, such as using an object that frankly scares me (timeline), then don't give up.
While Scirra has attempted to make make it less daunting, knowledge of programming is still needed, because setting up event sheets is, indeed, programming.
Global variables are a very important aspect of programming in any language. In most cases, they represent values (of any given type of data) that can be accessed from within any scope of the program, and that may be changed at any time. In Construct's case, this means that they are shared among all layouts. Given global variables, and some simple conditional events based upon them, one can implement all sorts of things.
mentioned, they are a natural way to implement a timer.
I've made a commented .cap with an example of a timer implemented in such a way. It sets up two similar layouts, each with a "Text" object to display the timer, where one starts manually and the other automatically. Note that the global variables are of numerical value and the "Text" object handles string values. Construct generally handles converting numbers into strings for use with objects such as the "Text" object quite transparently, as is noted in the .cap.
I hope it helps (v0.99.84): [url:3rasnyv6]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5868916/Timer1.cap[/url:3rasnyv6]
Also, I'd recommend checking out some beginner programming tutorials in general. I'm partial to Python, as it's widely regarded as easy for beginners, and can be used in Construct as well as on it's own. The concepts in normal computer programming and in event-based programming are very similar, naturally. If you're interested, here are some good resources:
General beginner's guide: http://wiki.python.org/moin/BeginnersGuide
A nice tutorial aimed at beginners: http://www.sthurlow.com/python/
Another found from the first link that I liked: http://openbookproject.net/thinkcs/python/english2e/
I should add that the two last links both start off with examples done from within the python interactive shell (IDLE), which is great for learning the basics. It simply executes individual commands or command blocks, letting you learn things step-by-step.
I've also written a simpler version of that shell within Construct, using it's native Python support, so you wouldn't even need to install Python to try the interactive examples given in those. It's here if you're so inclined: [url:3rasnyv6]http://www.scirra.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=6158[/url:3rasnyv6]