Thursday, July 27, 2017

Why 15 Minute Work Blasts Are Awesome



Usually, I keep my posts book-related, but today I decided to go life-related.

A lot of us have goals we want to accomplish, projects we want to work on. Some of us just want to read more. Others of us want to write novels, clear out our bedrooms, start a get buff program, eat healthier, or maybe even just finish our school projects on time.

For any of those goals and pretty much anything else I can think of, working in 15 minute intervals can be super effective.

Here's some reasons why.


1. It's too short of time to psych yourself out.

I'm sure you know the dread of having a project to do that you really don't want to work on. This especially happens to me when I'm already tired, or not feeling well. My gut reaction is to forget about it, to get it over with when I feel better. And sometimes this is the case, and we're better of resting and working on the task later. But a lot of the time it's a convenient out, and tomorrow will see the same thing happen if we're not careful.

Often, this sense of overwhelm is because we set too big of goal in front of ourselves. It looks huge, and it's so much easier to just say "Forget it, I don't need to do that today."

But 15 minutes is so short, it's too easy not to do. Instead the shame factor starts kicking in, where you actually feel ashamed if you don't do it for such a short amount of time. And each set of 15 minutes adds up.


2. Usually a start was all you needed.

Again with the psychological, it can be hard to get working when the goal is so huge.

Writing a book can seem overwhelming. Writing a chapter can also be daunting. But writing for fifteen minutes isn't that scary.

And a lot of times I'll find that, when that timer goes off, I'm not ready to quit yet. I've gotten into the zone, and I want to keep editing my novel, or keep writing another chapter, or keep sorting through my back log of email.

Last night, I was exhausted and felt sick, and I didn't want to do things as simple as unload and reload the dishwasher, and fold laundry. But I told myself I could do it for a few minutes.

This morning I was glad I'd taken the time to just do those tasks.

Set a timer, and give yourself permission to quit after 15 minutes. But keep going after it dings if you want.


3. You can get a lot done in that time.

You probably can put away a week's worth of laundry in less than fifteen minutes. Or pack your lunch for the next day so you don't just eat whatever the nearest restaurant has to offer.

I often find it takes only 15 minutes to clean my bedroom. Or do a HIIT workout (and for those of you with joint issues, they even have low impact ones). Or read a chapter. Or draft half of a blog post.

I can usually write 500 words in fifteen minutes. If I did that every day, I'd have a 180,000 draft (about the length of Thorn Changer) in a year. A 100,000 word draft would only take about 8 months. Granted, that's still a rough draft, with a lot of editing to do, but that's not bad for just fifteen minutes a day.


4. It's super easy to accomplish.

Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are too big to get done all at once.

Say you want to get up at 5:00 AM each morning so you can workout before heading to work, but you currently drag yourself out of bed at 7:00 AM. Instead of just setting your alarm for 5, you can work backwards by fifteen minutes every few days to a week until you are waking up at 5, and do a short workout in the time you have (check out YouTube, there are tons).

Conversely, if you never hit the hay before 2 AM, but want to start getting in bed at 10 so you're able to get up earlier for classes, you can go to bed fifteen minutes earlier and get up fifteen minutes earlier and reduce the times until you are where you want to be.


5. It helps you make use of "useless" time pockets.

Sometimes fifteen minutes is all we have before we have to move on to another task or appointment. Often we don't consider that enough time to get any "real" work done, so we fritter it away on Facebook or Instagram.

But we've just looked at how much stuff you can actually get done in fifteen minutes.

You can make up some flashcards for your upcoming SATs in fifteen minutes (or better yet, study those you already made up). You can put away dishes. You can make a phone call or two. You can arrange your space for whatever task you have after your appointment. You can take a short break from your phone, and just close your eyes and relax (just make sure you set an alarm).

Those time pockets don't look quite so useless.


Fifteen minutes might not seem like a lot of time to work with. But you can really get a lot done in such a short time. And if you have a smart phone, chances are you already have a built-in timer (though I still love using my large digital timer you see in the picture).

So go ahead. Tell yourself you'll work on listing old clothes you no longer want on Ebay, or learning Latin, or getting down the basics of coding, for just 15 minutes each day. And see how much you can get done.

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