The Magic of 15 Minutes

Looking back with fondness, I remember the days when my home was on a cleaning schedule and I took pride in dust-free window sills and the perfectly scented candle flickering on the side table at evening time. Then kids happened. And life.

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The walkway from the front door to the kitchen sink was soon littered with Legos and Little People, and I had a hard time wrapping my brain around being able to “get it all done”, let alone actually having more than two food dishes on the table at dinner time.

Enter my good friend Lauren who introduced me to the illustrious Flylady. While Flylady’s website drove me crazy and it took me a while to get it, her system ended up being JUST what I needed because it was focused on working in the nooks and crannies of life! I had 15 minutes every once in a while when I could accomplish something. Doing that one thing led to another and another, and before long I established my own schedule that worked with our family dynamics. What changed everything? The timer.

Every. Single. Day.

If you stop by my house unexpectedly you may find those seconds ticking down as someone tidies their room, writes a thank you card, or even washes dishes. It has turned into a fun game to beat the timer. The prize? Usually a high five. Sometimes a handful of chocolate covered sunflower seeds from Trader Joe’s.

Why 15 minutes?

It works. 10 minutes seems slightly too short to accomplish much and 20 minutes tells our brains that we are settling into a project that could take a while. 15 minutes is the sweet spot that inspires action while keeping our attention on ONE task until it is completed.

Focus is the key to accomplishing any task.

Does a task seem overwhelming and insurmountable? I’ll show you how to break it down into achievable steps.

1. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil.

2. Write your goal at the top of the page. For example, Organize Desk.

3. Now set a timer for 5 minutes and simply think about and write down what needs to be done to complete this task. Your list might look like:

  • File receipts
  • Shred personal papers
  • Pay bills
  • Gather tax info
  • Sort out top junk drawer
  • Organize stationary

4. Draw a line under your list. Divide the tasks up into small groups that can be finished in a 15 minute block of time. (For example: organize stationary and shred personal papers)

5. Put one 15 minute block of time on your calendar for the the next 3 days and that task that you have been dreading, the one that has been taking up real estate in your mind, will be finished!
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Dreading and over-thinking a task robs the present of joy and the future of promise. Take those thoughts captive, write them down. Divide and conquer!