Originally published on 10 April 2007.
When I first came to Flylady, I was taken aback by her rule of doing things for 15 minutes. What was 15 minutes? That wasn’t long enough to get anything done! And then sometimes, when faced with an overwhelming or distasteful task, 15 minutes seemed way too long and un-doable.
The fact is, my sense of time and effort is out of whack. By using my timer, I have found that 15 minutes is long enough to get substantial things done, and on the flip side, really not that long at all when I’m procrastinating. Here are some examples:
15 Minutes Is Not Long Enough To Do Anything
One afternoon, returning from work, I was greeted by a kitchen that looked like a tornado hit it. There were dishes everywhere, the dishwasher needed to be unloaded, the counters dirty, the floor needed to be swept, and the garbage was full. I didn’t want to tackle it — there was far too much to be done, and I was tired. But I remembered FlyLady’s advice to set a timer, work, then take a break. So I set the timer for 15 minutes and went about it. By the time the timer went off, not only had all the things above been rectified, but I also had spot-cleaned the floor, cleaned out the refrigerator and started a load of laundry.
15 Minutes Is Too Long
One morning at work, I realized I had procrastinated on a data cleanup long enough. It had to be done. But I couldn’t get started. So I set my desktop timer, and promised myself I could take a break after 15 minutes. Much to my surprise, I grew so engrossed in my work, that I didn’t stop after 15 minutes, and kept working on the task until it was done.
15 Minutes Is Not Long Enough To Do Anything, and Is Too Long, Too
I love this one. I actually caught myself thinking this one day, as I was trying to justify once again not doing my daily cleaning. When I first started Zone cleaning, (which is where I break my house into 5 zones, and spend 15 minutes cleaning/decluttering in that zone every day), I thought that 15 minutes would never be long enough to tackle anything, and besides I was too tired to do 15 minutes. One day I decided that I was going to do zone cleaning for 15 minutes, even if it killed me (which it didn’t). We were in Zone 1, which includes my dining room. Much to my surprise, before the timer went off, I had completely worked my way through the detailed cleaning on my list, and had 3 minutes to spare.
It never ceases to amaze me what can be done in such a short time, if I only get to it. I can tackle the worst job, because I can do anything for 15 minutes.