In the movie About a Boy, Hugh Grant plays a man who has more money than pure interest in life, and he talks about how he breaks down each day into “units” of 30 minutes. This not only helps him to structure his day, but most tasks he participates in take about this amount of time. So he manages to keep himself from getting bored. A hair cut, a TV show, a meal. And if need be, the blocks can be doubled or tripled up so you can enjoy a movie.
Although his idea is a bit on the pathetic side, there is quite a bit of merit to it. Have you ever considered how much you can get accomplished in 30 minutes? Or even in just 15? I’m willing to bet that if you grab a timer and starting limiting the amount of time you spend on certain activities throughout the day, you will not only get things done more quickly, but accomplish more. I use the timer function in my cell phone because I almost always have it nearby and it’s accurate. Plus if I can just restart it again whenever I begin a new task without much effort.
So how does this blocks of time concept work?
When you get up in the morning, give yourself 15 minutes to read your email before you start working on anything else, especially if you work from home or are a stay at home mom. Allow 15 minutes to play around on Facebook or Twitter if you find yourself getting lost in these sites for hours.
When you’re doing housework, set a timer and give yourself 15 minutes to declutter a cabinet, to clean out the fridge, to put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher, to spot mop the floor or sweep up dirt. You will often find you can accomplish even more in this amount of time. Which is great. Just find something else to tidy up until the time runs out. But if you don’t finish it all, don’t fret. Do what you can do (especially if it involves tidying up, decluttering, or other tasks which feel like they could easily go on for years) and then move on to something else more important.
Take 15 minutes to put toys away or clean up after your kids. You can even get your kids in on this action, although you usually need to use something more like 8 minutes because they have very short attention spans. But if it’s more like a game to see just how much you can accopmlish in a set amount of time, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done.
If you’re working outside in your garden, see how many weeds you can pull in 15 minutes. Or how much mulch you can spread. Then set your time again and see if you can complete even more the next time. Jump around if you want to, mix up the tasks in the time blocks…it’s your time so do what you want with it. But just try not to waste it!
Focus on completion while having fun
In many cases, you will often find yourself actually enjoying racing the clock that you will amaze yourself at what you’ve accomplished. But it can be difficult to get into this habit. The important thing is to try to get things accomplished to a state where you can live with it and start crossing projects off your to do list. Once you know you’ve begun the battle of cleaning out the 30 boxes in the garage one-by-one instead of all at once, you will feel the burdens begin to lighten and your life will be happier. Focus on one obstacle at a time for 15 minutes and then go on to something else — not focusing on 10 things at once all day. You will find all those distractions only prevent you from accomplishing all you need to do.
We all have so many things going on in life at once, that it can be extremely difficult to keep all the balls in the air as we juggle all our tasks. But Mount Rushmore was not made in one day. Slowly, piece-by-piece those faces were carved and chipped out of the mountain. And your happy, enjoyable, less stress life can be achieved in exactly the same way!