You know those project in your life that seem to always be there and never really make progress? I seem to have many of these. There are things that I have either procrastinated on or that seem to mount faster than I can keep up with them. There are also are those project that are never urgent, but simply things I’d like to have behind me. These include things like:
- Clean out the basement
- File all my old sermons
- Clean out my “Bacn” email folder
- Go through my old school files
- Get everything together for taxes
- Cleaning out my email, facebook or twitter inbox
And the list goes on and on. So a few months I decided that if I were to give some of these project even just 10 minutes a day I would eventually get them behind me. I wasn’t sure if this would only prolong things more, or if it would actually “move the ball down the field,” so to speak. So I gave it a try. I gave about 5 or 6 projects 10 minutes a day. For a total investment of no more than an hour a day, I was touching projects I’d avoided for months.
The results have been fascinating. Nothing is getting done quickly, yet nonetheless things are getting done that otherwise were not even progressing. I’ve loved watching some of these projects fall off my todo list, one small step at a time.
Here are some things that have helped me discover the power of the 10 minute task:
1. I use a 10 minute timer. I have one in my phone, iPad, and a little kitchen timer that I’ll carry around if needed. Having the timer has motivated me to work hard at tasks for ten minutes that I could otherwise care less about.
2. I keep a list of projects that I’d like to give 10 minutes of work a day. Then I highlight 5-8 of them that I want to touch first. I try to stay confined to only given the selected project the 10 minutes a day for a period of a month or so. I find that as I see the progress over a few consecutive days I get more motivated to accomplish the tasks.
3. I don’t cheat – I only give each one 10 minutes. Sometimes I get going and want to work on something for a bit longer. However, I’ve found that even though I may be motivated at the end of 10 minutes, if I give it too much time I won’t want to touch it again for a long time.
4. I try to make a clear (and easy) place to start again the next time. This may mean that I have to write a note about where I left off or get something to a certain point where I know it will be easy to dive in for another 10 minutes next time.
5. I don’t (usually) do all my “10 minute tasks” in one consecutive setting. I slip them in at all points of my day to give me a break on other larger projects. This helps me have a sense of accomplishment all through out the day.
By allotting this time for the projects each day I am also relieved of the stress of “What I should/could be doing.” When I know that I’ve at least touched those looming projects hanging over my head, I am more at ease to touch the urgent things I need to handle in my daily life.
Don’t underestimate the power of the 10 minute task!