The 20 Minute Principle
Find me one person who feels they are not tight on time and we must talk. Even retired folks are so busy these days. Multi-tasking has been proven to be counter productive. There are endless distractions from being online constantly to our phones buzzing with notifications. Oh and then there's "back-to-back" meetings.
The only real solution all of us have to take control of my time is CHOICE. I get to say "yes" and "no" at every decision point. The question is--are we conscious of this fact? Do we take deliberate action to be mindful of how we use our time?
Presenting The 20 Minute Principle. Break your most important actions into small parts. Then focus on each part exclusively for 20 minutes. Zero distractions. No phone calls, no checking email, no looking at news/social media sites. Nothing but the one small task. Ideally, use a timer to keep yourself honest and treat it like a deadline.
Then also give yourself a deliberate break in-between. You decide the length of the break. I recommend 10 minutes. A break must definitely include getting up, walking around, getting water/a snack, perhaps using the bathroom etc. Again, be diligent and true to yourself to take the break and stick to the time.
You are likely saying--but I don't have 20 minutes to spare each hour (two 10 minute breaks). Ah and if you were to simply journal each 20 minute block of your day I bet you will find a lot of time: that hall way conversation that becomes 30+ minutes, the walk to get food, the endless time online without a focus..._______ fill in the blanks.
The top three benefits of applying this principle are:
- Focus on One Thing: All success principles point to breaking big goals into smaller ones. Being clear about the one thing you want to get done in 20 minutes and keeping it realistic goes a long way. For example, if you want to write a book, spend 20 minutes to simply write the chapters of the book. Do another 20 minutes about the top 3 things within with chapter, and so on.
- Feeling Accomplished: We are wired to feel good about getting things done, especially when they have great meaning to us. But even the day-to-day tasks (e.g. complete a travel expense report) feels great once you get it done, as opposed to the energy drain of holding that "to do" in your head/on a list etc.
- Clarity of Mind: A clear mind is a more creative mind. When we turn off all distractions and have the discipline to stick with our plan, we feel in integrity with ourself. Watch how innovative ideas show up when we focus on one thing at a time and in those breaks we intuitive connecting patterns.
Remember, work and doing things we love is like running a marathon and not a sprint. Give yourself permission to plan your day, your week, your month this way. And yes, do turn this principle off occasionally, e.g. weekends, family time, time with a friend.
Want help to leverage this principle in your work life? Grab 15 minutes on my calendar and I'd be delighted to help you be more successful in doing meaningful work. Contact me if you and your company want greater employee engagement and productivity. Sign-up for my blog.
P.S. This took me 22 minutes to complete. Yes do break the principle when you are in the flow. Go as long as you stay in flow and do not distract yourself.