How to Make the Life you Want in 10 Minutes

I’m not sure which can wreck my house faster: my kids or a troop of monkeys. Keeping my living space tidy is essential for me because my thoughts can only be as clear as my surroundings. During the week, I have a routine of cleaning and tidying that keeps my space under control. But once my girls come home, all bets are off. My house can turn into the set of Sanford & Son, even if we make a concerted effort to put things away after we use them.

The last thing I want to do is straighten up when I get home after dropping them off.  I have so much work I want to get to and cleaning feels like a waste of my valuable time.  It also feels like it would take three hours to straighten up if I get started.  Having a messy living space can be a huge block to my creativity.

So, here’s what I do:

I give it ten minutes.  Ten minutes of all my focus and energy while I am completely present with the task.  At the end of that ten minutes, I give myself the freedom to walk away and begin doing the work I truly want to get to.  This ‘ten minute rule’ can work for anything that you are having a difficult time getting started.

Ten minutes of cleaning.  Ten minutes of writing.  Ten minutes of programming.  Ten minutes of designing.  Ten minutes of the hard work.

Give ten minutes of heading in the direction you want to go.  See what happens.  Set a timer and commit to stopping when the timer goes off.  You are only going to do ten minutes worth of work and then you are going to stop no matter what.  But you have to commit to stopping.  It is a must.  You must feel the freedom to quit when the ten minutes are up.

Second, you have to go all in.  You can’t half ass your way through those ten minutes, or even 80% your ass through.  These are ten minutes where the best possible version of you, in that time-period, must show up.  You must do the work whole-hearted and give it your best effort.  Anything else won’t count.  Your ability to be completely present with your task is what empowers you to do your best work.

Now, after your time is up and you’ve stopped, take a look at your work.  How far did you get?  What have you accomplished?  What percentage of the project would you say is complete?  Here’s the beauty.  If you want to walk away right now you can.  But, if your progress encouraged you at all, you have permission to go on for another ten minutes...  and so on, and so forth.  It’s that simple.

Apply the leverage of the 'ten minute rule' to get you started in the things that you feel resistance to.  You may find that once you get started you'll power through to completion.

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” – Alexander Graham Bell

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Lower the bar. Actually spending ten minutes clearing off one shelf is better than fantasizing about spending a weekend cleaning out the basement.” – Gretchen Rubin

“When you waste a moment, you have killed it in a sense, squandering an irreplaceable opportunity. But when you use the moment properly, filling it with purpose and productivity, it lives on forever.” – Menachem Mendel Schneerson

“Don’t worry about breaks every 20 minutes ruining your focus on a task. Contrary to what I might have guessed, taking regular breaks from mental tasks actually improves your creativity and productivity. Skipping breaks, on the other hand, leads to stress and fatigue.” – Tom Rath