Day 2: The Power of 15 Minutes

Whenever Randi and I go anywhere together, I find myself waiting. “I’ll be right there,” she says and then she struggles with her contact lens, searches the house for her wallet, decides it is a good time to re-organize our shoes. Meanwhile, I’ve already got my coat on; my bag is slung over one shoulder; if we are taking the dog for a walk, she is pulling the leash taut. I wait against the door frame; the dog sits at the bottom of the steps; Randi readies herself. Five. Ten. Fifteen minutes pass.

ABQ Central Bus

ABQ Central Bus

Here are a some other times, I find myself with fifteen minutes:

  • while waiting for the bus
  • while waiting for a class to start
  • while waiting for the doctor
  • while waiting for my food to be ready (at a restaurant)
  • while waiting for my alarm to sound in the morning so I can pry myself out of bed

Here are the things I usually do to kill fifteen minutes

  • check my email
  • check my facebook account
  • hit the snooze button
  • check the weather
  • stand in the doorway and ask Randi if there is something I can do to help

Here is what I could have been doing instead:

  • writing

Productivity experts talk about “the Power of Fifteen Minutes” all the time. As Neen James, one expert, points out: “People go wrong because they get overwhelmed. They think things will take longer than they do, and so they procrastinate. Procrastination key? Fifteen minutes.” Her overall point: stop making excuses. In fifteen minutes, one can accomplish a lot. So:

  • Get to the coffee shop fifteen minutes early
  • Wake up fifteen minutes earlier
  • Go to bed fifteen minutes later
  • Carry your notebook with you everywhere
  • Eliminate waiting
  • Stop thinking there isn’t enough time.

Here on Day 2, with the rest of the month before us, I think it is important to keep in mind the 15 minute rule. May there be more people with pens at bus stops.


A Fifteen Minute Writing Exercise (that could go longer, of course)

This one comes from fellow challenger Chris Strickling, and it’s a beautifully simple writing prompt:

Write about a powerful memory.

As Chris says, “We started with that in the theater work I did for 12 years with disabled adults. Just that simple prompt started the creative flow that would take us all the way to performance.”


Got an exercise to share?

A minor note: Last night’s post took me upwards of 3 hours. Today, Randi said that in honor of the day’s post, this one should fall within the 15 minute mark. Other than uploading photographs and last minute edits, I made it right under the wire…

5 thoughts on “Day 2: The Power of 15 Minutes

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