A friend of mine commented on last week’s blog about my New Year’s Resolution to spend an hour, first thing in the morning, writing. He suggested that one hour might be too big of a commitment at first, and that it would be better to start with a shorter amount of time – 15 minutes, perhaps, or even just 10.

I’m sure many people would question how long it would take to write a book – or accomplish anything, for that matter – in 15-minute increments. But I understand what my friend was getting at, and I agree with him. The point to remember is that the goal is two-fold: first, to establish the routine until it becomes a habit. Then, to actually get the work done. But the habit has to come first.

A program I once subscribed to advocated committing just 15 minutes at a time to a project, citing the mantra, “You can do anything for 15 minutes.” Many people in the program were surprised at how much they did get done in 15 minutes a day. But the real strength is in the consistency.

The friend who suggested the 10-15-minute starting goal told me that for 17 years, he’s sustained an exercise program that started with his stretching and bending a few times in front of the microwave while reheating his morning coffee. He helped another friend – who had been unable to stick with an exercise program – do the same.

No matter how long it takes to do something – from learning a new language, to cleaning out the garage, to writing a book – you will still get it done faster if you commit just 15 minutes a day to it, and stick to it, than if you pledge a larger block of time, but then find you’re “too busy” on many days to do it.

I have to admit that I need to take my friend’s advice with regard to my own New Year’s Resolution. I had a great first day and got a lot done in the hour I pledged, which actually stretched into two-and-a-half hours. But I got derailed on a few days by some early-morning appointments, including one in which I needed to leave the house at 5:30 in the morning. I did get some work done, but sporadically. Not enough to establish the habit. So in Week 2 of the new year, I’m reducing my commitment to 15 minutes every day, knowing that once I get started, 15 minutes will grow into a half-hour, a full hour, and more. But 15 minutes is enough to get me started, no matter how busy I might be or what else I have to do each morning.

If you have a project or goal you’d like to tackle, but just haven’t been able to get to it, try committing to working on it for just 15 minutes a day. I’m willing to bet you’ll get it done in no time.

January 9, 2023
©Betty Liedtke, 2023

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