Getting Shit Done 15 Minutes at a Time

As monstrous as holiday prep can be, there’s something truly insidious about the procrastination that creeps up on us afterward.

Tick. Tick. Tick...

Tick. Tick. Tick…

After all, we just participated in an orgy of gift giving and overindulgance followed by a ride on ye olde family emotional rollercoaster.

The "Zytglogge" in Berne, Switzerland

The “Zytglogge” in Berne, Switzerland

We’re wiped out. Life can get along fine without us for a while. Can’t it?

School and work force us back into your old routines, but some things we put off, saying to ourselves, “I’ll get to that later.”

Of course, this is pretty natural. Interrupting our daily schedule and habits messes us up. We feel all discombobulated. We put off doing stuff until “things settle down” when “life gets back to normal.”

Yeah, right.

But don’t beat yourself up, either. It’s hard to jump back into things at the high level you were at previously. No matter how much we wish it, we aren’t superheroes. We have to start small. Baby steps.

All it takes is 15 minutes. Hey, we can do that, right? 15 minutes is nothing.

I was feeling some serious resistence getting back to writing. Not a big surprise since this is my first post of 2014! The weeks went by and I kept putting off writing a post, editing my novel, or working on short story ideas. I finally couldn’t stand myself anymore.

I set my alarm for 15 minutes and started editing, since that’s the easiest (for me) to do. When the alarm went off, I was on a FlickrClocksOCAlwaysroll, so I set it again. Kept on doing this for about an hour until I finished editing two chapters.

Pretty cool.

That finally broke something, because now I’m ready to write. And create. Without the timer.

Now, this method isn’t new but I was reminded of it by Melissa Dinwiddie at Living a Creative Life.
If you have trouble getting started on a task, try the 15 minute method. Let me know how it works for you.

Images courtesy of Simon Shek, wonderferret, and OC Always on Flickr Creative Commons.


10 comments on “Getting Shit Done 15 Minutes at a Time

  1. Thanks! I needed that reminder. (I couldn’t get back into exercising after the holidays- 1 hour a day recommended by most just seemed too tedious— Then I read a book, and the author said to make a goal of just a 1/2 hour a day. A half hour seemed so doable I began that very day and haven’t missed a day since.. Small steps. Now, if I could only get back into writing. I will try the 15 minutes starting today.


  2. D J Mills says:

    Yes, I love setting the timer so I can just work until the buzzer goes off. 🙂

    I also love lists of bite size tasks that when completed add up to a whole project: like draw image, colour image, add to book cover layout, select font, layout cover text, add publishing info, print out and check layout details, fix any errors, then mark cover project completed.

    Glad to hear you are back to editing your story. Well done!

    I am now off to sort out images to update covers and get new story covers ready to publish. 🙂


    • E.K. Carmel says:

      Lists are good, and I really like ticking off each thing when I’m done. However, I can’t have too many things on a list or I start to freak out.

      Good luck with your covers!


  3. Good points, but the trouble is, you need to plan the 15 minutes, then get the stuff ready, like turning on the computer, then you need to think about what to do next, that’s mroe than 15 minutes. I think I need to lie down already, and I haven’t done anything yet.


  4. I agree it’s very hard to get started into a routine. Working in fifteen minutes gets me going but including a reward for myself such as playing music while I’m doing a chore or promising myself an episode of Supernatural or something similar helps, too.


  5. Thanks for the shout-out, E.K.! So glad the 15-minute method is working for you!

    These days I make my goals even more “ridiculously achievable.” My friend Laureen likes to say “any amount counts,” and I’ve taken that as my own motto.

    Does any amount fill me all the way up? No way! But it gets me started, and it keeps the momentum going. It helps me build a bridge to the next day. It helps me feel successful, if I can check off that “YES, I played in my Creative Sandbox today!” — even for a ridiculously tiny amount of time.

    Our creative spirits need loving and coaxing. They don’t respond well to beatings. When I can keep my creative spirit feeling unpressured and successful, she will happily come out to play at a moment’s notice. 🙂


    • E.K. Carmel says:

      You’re very welcome, Melissa!

      I see your point. ANY amount of time, no matter how small, if it gets you started and keeps you going, is good. I’m all for that!


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