The magical power of 15 minutes.


It is often said that everyone has a book inside them but most people fail to write it. Is it because they don’t have an innate ability to write? Is it because they don’t really want to write one in the first place? I believe that there is something about their mindset which prevents them from doing it.

Why don’t we start?

Writing a book is only one example of something that people don’t start to do.They don’t start their savings plan, they don’t start looking after their health, they don’t start looking for that new job. It is different for each person but whatever it is, whatever they say they want in their lives, the lack of it usually occurs for no other reason than that they have just not begun.

Maybe the task seems overwhelming, maybe there is no deadline for completion, maybe it just all seems too hard. Whatever it is, the reason for avoiding the task is often stronger than the reason to begin it.

Years ago I had an enormous portfolio to complete for a promotion at work. It was something I had been thinking about doing for a long time and an outcome that I really wanted to achieve. The problem was that the task was so overwhelming that I found it impossible to start. I knew other people who had done it and I was aware that some of them had devoted up to 18 months to working on it in their spare time and whole chunks of their vacations. The extra stress and time away from their families was enormous. Even though it was something I really wanted to complete, I simply could not begin.

The plan.

However, one night I made a plan. I decided that I would dedicate one evening each week to working on it. Did that work? Nope! I had two small children, a full time job and an endless stream of ‘urgent’ tasks to complete before I could even think about it. The last thing I wanted to do was come home from work and think about work again for another 2-3 hours. It just didn’t happen.

One night I was looking at something on the Internet when I came across a cleaning tip. The tip was to vaccuum/tidy/clean etc. for 15 minutes, then stop. The idea was that small increments of 15 minutes eventually added up to an entire house being clean without needing to feel overwhelmed by it all.

A better plan.

It was then that it hit me. What if I worked on this application for 15 minutes each day? 15 minutes really was such a short amount of time, surely I could find that? What I had been doing wrong was thinking that I had to find a big chunk of time to devote to it. Time was in short supply in my life and that was what was stopping me. If I could just work on it for 15 minutes and then stop, over the week that would almost be 2 hours. Pretty good, I thought.

I put a couple of strategies in place to help me. Some days I got up 15 minutes earlier and worked on it in the morning. Other days I asked my husband to take over with the children after dinner so that I could begin before I was too tired to concentrate.

Every day I sat down for 15 minutes. Some days that time couldn’t go fast enough. The creative juices simply didn’t flow and it was a struggle, but I persevered. Not once did I stop before 15 minutes were up. Regularly however, I worked long over the 15 minute timeslot. I would get on a roll with an idea and look up at the end to discover that I had worked for 2 hours. The sense of accomplishment at the end of that was enormous.

I had discovered the answer.

Changing my mindset was all it took to get this difficult task completed. All I had promised myself was that I would devote 15 minutes a day to it and then I could feel a sense of accomplishment. Even if that was all I was able to do and no more, I had not let myself down, I didn’t need to feel disappointed. Instead, I felt proud that I had done what I said I was going to do.

In the end I had it finished in record time and achieved the promotion I had dreamed about for so long. All this with only 15 minutes a day.

Is there something in your life that you would love to achieve but find yourself stuck at the starting line? Why don’t you try working on it for just 15 Minutes? You may be very surprised where it takes you.

17 thoughts on “The magical power of 15 minutes.

  1. I often get overwhelmed and I have learnt recently to break tasks down to bite size pieces and start at the beginning and just do it.
    I also remind myself at the end of the day about how much I have achieved and give myself a hi 5…..thanks for sharing!

    1. Sometimes I write a list of what I have achieved just so I can see how much I actually got done. With a never ending to do list, it can be a way to feel a sense of achievement at the end of a long day.

  2. I feel like that with a blog post that involves a lot of prep, like buying materials, setting up, doing the activity (while trying to photograph it), editing photos etc… As opposed to just straight out writing. Got a looooong to do list right now!!

    1. I use it for all sorts of things now. It’s a big enough chunk of time to make a dent in something small but sounds easy enough that it can pull you out of procrastination mode.

  3. This is one of my biggest problems in life and it’s often about decluttering and sorting. I just know how big the whole job is but if I change the way I do things, I might manage this tactic. Thanks for joining the #weekendblogshare

  4. I like the idea that you can see progress this way (and writing the progress list does the same thing) because that’s been one of the areas I’ve struggled with when breaking a goal into smaller pieces. Thanks for the suggestions!

  5. What a cool idea! Thanks!! I feel like you’ve just given me an extra 2hrs a week and there are a number of projects I’ve been putting off I realise now simply because my life is so busy and I’ve been under the illusion I need a big chunk of time to devote to them. (-8

  6. Great idea. I suffer from having a long list of jobs to do and only getting through a few of them because they take too long. Perhaps changing my mindset to getting some of the things only partly done would help with the sense of accomplishment that I don’t feel too often. Thanks!

  7. I found voice recording helped me get a lot of my book idea out. But now I need to pay to get it transcribed. I like the 15min theory but I never have time alone and I find it hard to write anything with anyone else in the house. Even if no one is near me, I know they’re there!

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