The Fifteen Minute Rule, No Excuses

on November 29, 2012

My husband calls them ankle-biters. Those dastardly little things that gobble up all your spare time and linger on your to-do list. Those nagging commitments that require more time than you have to give. So often they end up procrastinated into eternity.

Am I singing your song? If that isn’t your jingle all year round, it certainly is the anthem of the holidays. Too much to do, too many people, too little sleep, too many presents, too many plans, too many finals, too many cookies, too much food, too little exercise, too much, too much, too much. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it.

Enter the 15 minute rule. I first read about this in my writer’s magazine. When an article or story seems too daunting and writer’s block has built a mansion and taken up residence right in front of you, it’s time to implement the 15 minute rule. This is simply setting a timer for 15 minutes and telling yourself that you are only promising to work on this project for 15 minutes. After that, all bets are off. After that, you just might get up and go take a bubble bath. After that, finished or not, you have the option to quit and walk away. Anyone can do anything for 15 minutes. Right?

This little trick worked so well! Somehow, removing the pressure of “I will sit here until I finish this,” gave my creativity wings. Instead of waiting for that beep to end my misery, I barely heard my timer ring. And 15 minutes everyday, quickly resulted in a finished product!

I just spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my wonderful 3 sisters, their husbands, daughter and my parents. Around the dinner table one night, my brilliant doctor sister gave credit to a mentor for helping her pass a critical exam. “She told me to set the timer for 20 minutes. After that, no matter how much I had done, I could quit. It worked!”

Don’t spend too much time trying to figure it out. It’s the human psyche that responds to the pressure of limited time and the relief of an end in sight. So how does this apply to you, to your fitness and to the holidays?

Less is more!

Instead of wondering how you’re going to manage getting in hour long workouts while you’re visiting family, simply promise to do  15 minutes of intense exercise everyday.

I recently practiced this principle in my own workouts. While in Missouri with my family, I told myself that I would only get up early enough to workout 20-30 minutes everyday. Getting up 30 minutes early wasn’t hard. The workouts were over before I knew it and it was enough to boost my energy, my mood and inspire me to eat healthily on vacation.

Why not try it? You can do anything for 15 minutes. 

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