The Magic of 15 minutes.

I am so excited to again have another article in Productive Magazine for December…

15 Minutes.

Did you know there are 96 blocks of 15 minutes in every day? Let me tell you why you should care.

So, how’s that big project coming along? You know, the systems overhaul before the end of the year your boss is expecting? Or, maybe it’s the promise you made to yourself not to begin any kind of holiday before you finish purging all the bedroom closets and dressers.

15 minutes = excellent starting place

Are you freaking out yet? The reality is that our brains go into overload mode when faced with the idea of something so big that it can’t find an entry point. It just happens that 15 minutes is an excellent starting place. Yes, just 15 minutes.

There was a study done that asked parents to think about the amount of money they would put away over 18 years or 6,574 days, give or take depending on leap years. Which one was easier for the parents to think about? Yep, the 6,574 or so days. Even though the number is bigger, the smaller chunks of time seemed to smooth out the concept. It was easier for the parents to approach saving money with more chunks of smaller amounts of time.

5 examples of 15 minute tasks

Say a free 15-minute block in your schedule pops up. Either your client is running late or there was no traffic this morning. Think you can’t get anything done in with that surprise gift of time? Think again.

Here are five examples of 15 minute tasks and I’m sure you can think of others too. You’ll be amazed at what you can get done in such a relatively short amount of time. Now, go and get your timer.

  1. Start somethingJust start anything. Why not that aforementioned looming big project? The one you have no idea how or where to begin. Set your timer for 15 minutes, and begin thinking it through. Scratch out an outline, and you’re on your way.
  2. OrganizeSift through a junk drawer, nightstand, car trunk, or the side area of your desk. Trash the oddball receipts, sort out the paperclips and rubber bands, get rid of the expired grocery coupons, same with the pens that don’t work, hey there’s the earring you’ve been looking for, whose tennis ball is that, and look, there’s the electric bill. By the way, if this is something that can’t be accomplished in 15 minutes, give me a call. We need to talk.
  3. ReadThe average adult reads 250 to 300 words a minute, which equals 3,750 to 4,500 words in 15 minutes. Multiply that by 30 for an average of 112,500 or 135,000 words per month. According to Amazon, the median word count for a novel is 64,000. I’d say that’s two books for every 30-day period. And you thought you didn’t have any time to read.
  4. Return phone calls, particularly the ones you don’t want to makeThe 15-minute parameter will force you to stick to the job at hand. It is the quickly-ripping-off-the-band-aid theory. Think how much better you’ll feel in 20 minutes with those calls crossed off your list.
  5. Power through your email inboxA short, to the point reply is better than none, and, remember, not all emails need to be answered. They do, however, need attention. File, delete, forward, act! Unclog that inbox.

There’s no special key to these magical 15 minutes, though there are some favored tools. Mine is a timer. A timer will get you there faster than imagining 15 minutes. Setting a timer for a specific block of time gives you a sense of urgency as well as puts a stop time on the task. Once the timer goes off, make sure to move on or reset the timer for an additional specific amount of time.

I want to be clear that I’m not advocating every minute of your day be filled with doing, doing, doing. “Doing nothing” is also very important. In my book, I talk about how “doing nothing” is a misnomer if you are using it for meditating, strategic thinking, or breathing techniques. You actually are doing a ton of very important work while “doing nothing.” Never underestimate recharging and rest.

Next time you are waiting for your chronically late colleague, set your timer for 15 minutes. It’s a lot more productive than grumbling.

Quote of the week.


Decisions are everything.

Passing along this very interesting article (and quick read) from The Wallstreet Journal…. How you make decisions says a lot about how happy you are.  


How You Make Decisions Says a Lot About How Happy You Are

Do you tend to take your time before making a decision–analyzing the pros and cons as you check out and weigh different options.  Or do you usually make decisions relatively quickly without the need to agonize over every detail?  Wall Street Journal columnist Elizabeth Bernstein discusses the latest research on how our decision-making style affects our happiness.

She points to research by psychologists who find there are two basic types of decision-makers. “Maximizers” are the ones who want to explore all the available choices open to them so they can make the best possible decision versus “satisfiers” who are fine with making decisions quickly as long as it solves the problem at hand.

As Swarthmore psychology professor Dr. Barry Schwartz, puts it:  “Maximizers are people who want the very best.  Satisfiers are people who want good enough.”  Dr. Schwartz also created a test to help you to understand to what degree you are a maximizer or a satisfier.

In a 2006 published study of college seniors looking for jobs, Dr. Schwartz and his colleagues found that maximizers tended to get better jobs at a higher initial salary than satisfiers.  So why were they more likely not to be as happy with their job?  He says of the finding:  “The maximizer is kicking himself because he can’t examine every option and at some point had to just pick something.  Maximizersmake good decisions and end up feeling bad about them.  Satisfiers make good decisions and end up feeling good.”

The researchers also discovered that satisfiers were usually more satisfied and happier with their lives and less depressed thanmaximizers.  And as we grow older, Dr. Schwartz says we are more likely to become satisfiers:  “One of the things that life teaches you is that ‘good enough’ is ‘good enough.’  You learn that you can get satisfaction out of wonderful, but not perfect outcomes.”



Quote of the week.


5 Things I’m Loving About Our New Home.

Welcome to December and where the heck did 2014 go?

This has been an absolutely whirlwind of a year for our family and on top of everything, we moved this last month.
While I continued to work with clients, I took a break from writing and blogging to step back and regroup and focus my attention towards getting my family settled and get moved. As with all moves and project plans, something is sure to go awry, as it did with our project. All we needed to do before moving in was add a bathroom and fast forward to save you from all the drama, we’re still not done with it as we had to replace the entire plumbing system for the house. Yeah. Fun stuff. So, here we are – just so grateful for our new space that functions MUCH better for our family.

Here’s my top 5 things I love about this house:

1. It’s cool and cozy.
One of the things I did not love about our house that we used to live in was that it was quite sunny and warm.  ALL. THE. TIME.  I know, I know… you’re thinking I’m crazy because who doesn’t love sunny and warm?  Well, this girl who grew up in Minnesota and doesn’t like to be hot.  EVER.  While the south facing riviera provided abundant, beautiful light and loads of sun, it made our house hot most of the time and took away the feeling of being cozy and comfy.  It just didn’t really fit my constitution.  Ask my hubby – when it’s hot, I’m a grump girl. This house is shaded most of the day and has trees and foliage, which feels so much better to me.  This is my absolute MOST favorite thing about this house.  Yep, shade and cool.  This house also has a fireplace, which I also grew up with, so it honestly just feels more like “home” to me.

2.  My boys and their own spaces.
Ben and Zack each have their own bedrooms, and share a bathroom.  Look at those faces… :)


Their own bathroom…


They finally have a trampoline (like a total dream come true)…


Because in case you haven’t met my boys, they are in need of serious movement… and lots of it. and often.


3. The kitchen.
This is a dream come true kitchen. Enough Said.

4. Spice Drawer.
Inside the kitchen are some amazing features and some fun spaces that I have had fun organizing… my new spice drawer tops that list. Finally, I have a good system that works really well and is accessible and easy to find when needed. I got these flat spice racks that lay in the drawer at Ikea for $4/each. So efficient and this works great for me here because of having ample drawer space – never would have worked in my old house because of a serious shortage on drawer space.
spice rack

5. Family Functionality.
Honestly, our family just functions better at this house. The flow and layout of the house works better for us, we have way more outside space in both front and back areas and the neighborhood is just delightful. So, we are beyond grateful and feel so blessed that our looooong and often painful home selling/buying 3-year journey has come to an end and we’ll live here for many many years to come.