My New Year’s Resolution is going to take exactly 15 minutes to complete. The catch is that it’s going to take 15 minutes on each and every day in 2013.

I’m taking the 15-minute number from an organizing and decluttering expert who calls herself FlyLady, and who insists that you can do anything for 15 minutes. And she’s right. No matter how busy you are, how many projects or activities you’re juggling, or how exhausted you may be by the end of the day, you can still squeeze 15 minutes in at some point.

On the flip side, 15 minutes may not seem like much time, but if you add it up over the course of a week, a month, or a year, you actually get in a pretty good chunk of time. Besides, the amount of time isn’t really the issue, consistency is. No matter what we set out to do, whether it’s organizing, exercising, developing a good habit or eliminating a bad one, working at it consistently is the best way to achieve success. Too many people set out in pursuit of a goal, go at it full-force, and then burn out from the effort. That’s why New Year’s Resolutions often fail, and why so many people end up bruised and battered – physically or mentally – when their initial resolve and enthusiasm drops and disappears. And it’s why many people don’t even bother with New Year’s Resolutions. After all, why begin or attempt something new when you know you’ll most likely start, stop, and feel like a failure for not achieving it?

But if you resolve to do something for 15 minutes a day, and you make that the measure of success, you’ve taken the pressure off of yourself. You also allow for slip-ups that won’t derail your whole effort, because if you do miss your 15 minutes one day, you can easily make it up by pledging to do 30 minutes the following day.

Plus, if you’re like me, resolving to do something for 15 minutes a day makes it seem like more of a a game and a personal challenge, and I always find that motivating. What I’ll probably do is put a little “X”on my activity calendar every day when I complete my 15 minutes. Since I look at the calendar multiple times throughout the day, it will serve as a reminder, a record, and a pat on the back for completing my daily quota and keeping up with my New Year’s Resolution.
So what am I going to be doing during my 15 minutes each day? Decluttering. My house and office are getting overrun with papers, projects, and the kind of “stuff” that grows and multiplies if I don’t tend to it regularly, and I’ve been neglecting it lately. So that will be my mission for 2013, 15 minutes at a time.

But the 15-minute resolution can work for anything you might want to do. Get in shape. Learn a new skill or language. Read a book. Write a book. There’s no limit. And if you’re thinking that 15 minutes a day is not enough to get you to your goal, or won’t get you there fast enough, remember that it will get you there a whole lot faster than not working on it at all. And once you instill the 15-minute habit, you can easily increase the time, as long as you keep on doing it every day.

I’m all for the kind of group support that comes from people helping each other out and cheering each other on, so if you’d like to make a 15-Minute New Year’s Resolution of your own, please email me and let me know what it is you resolve to do for 15 minutes every day in 2013. We can touch base and compare notes from time to time throughout the year, and even share and celebrate our success – in print or perhaps in person – a year from now.

Whether or not you make this or anything else your New Year’s Resolution for 2013, I wish you every success and happiness now and throughout the year.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 27, 2012.
©Betty Liedtke, 2012

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