Can You Spare 10 Minutes?

Can you spare 10 minutes? There are so many items on my want to do, should do, and could do lists that there doesn’t seem like there’s enough time to do any of them. So I don’t. I just keep looking at the piles (on my dresser, in my closet, in the hall closet, on my desk, in my desk, in the store room, and even on the dining room table) and wishing I had more time.

The reality is if I spent the 10 minutes I use to be anxious over everything there is to be done actively doing something, the piles would shrink! My therapist and my best friend remind me to set a timer for 10 minutes and tackle one of the piles. The idea is I don’t have to plan on finishing the job; it’s about just getting started. I’ve found that once started, I continue to tackle the pile well after the timer goes off. And it feels so good.

This idea originated with my therapist who told me to set a timer for 5 minutes to get started on a writing project – even just writing in my journal. I rarely stopped after the 5 minutes was up. Then she suggested lengthening the time a little if I was still feeling overwhelmed. Again, it worked. I usually come away feeling successful, even a bit proud of what I was able to get done. Often that motivates me for the next task or pile to conquer.

Even though I know that I will spend more time than the “required” 5 or 10 minutes, this technique still works. I have found I can do almost anything for 10 minutes, including reading God’s Word or writing in my Prayer Journal. The best part of this technique is that it encourages me to lay aside the “distractions,” presumably for 10 minutes, to do something else. Even setting a timer for the “distractions” (playing games on my phone, watching the news, etc.) allows me to move on to more productive activity. I often find I have 10 minutes (or even the original 5) in my day that I thought was impossible to find.

I often suggest this strategy to other people, and some of them have found it useful as well. We remind each other back and forth to use it to tackle our piles. Even if I only have 10 minutes, it’s amazing how much I get done just by getting started. That’s the original purpose of this technique: to get started. I suggest this to my friends and to my college-aged daughter. Later in the day, we compare notes and are mutually encouraged by what we were actually able to achieve. This is a strategy I recommend you try when you are staring at the piles. Just start. We can do anything for 10 minutes.

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