Let’s Explore the Incredible Power of Fifteen Minutes

Write every day

Photo: Rui Fernandes

 

“I’d love to write a book someday, but right now I don’t have the time.”

I hear this often when I teach writing classes. One of my favorite exercises to do with beginning writers is a timed sprint. We set a timer for 15 minutes, and everyone writes as quickly and unconsciously as they can.

When the timer goes off, these writers are often astonished that their average word count comes in at about 400 words. Then we do the math:  if we write just 400 words a day for five days a week, we can write a 60,000-word draft of a novel in about seven months—and still have weekends off.

I’ve learned that doing big things in small chunks of time can be incredibly productive. With this in mind, how would you like to join me in an experiment this week? If you’re game, let’s commit to 15 minutes of one activity for the next six days. We’ll start Monday and end Saturday. The only requirement is that we state our intentions below and check in every day for six days after we complete our activity. By Saturday we’ll have devoted an hour and a half to something meaningful, and we can share our results.

Creating art at Happy Simple Living

Photo by Stephen A. Wolfe

Here are some ideas:

  • Organize
  • Meditate
  • Practice gratitude
  • Exercise
  • Create a scrapbook page
  • Pray
  • Write in a journal
  • Beautify a space
  • Learn foreign language words or phrases
  • Read to a child
  • Create art
  • Memorize a scripture
  • Write a letter
  • Take a walk
  • Reach out to a friend or loved one
  • Take photographs
  • Work in the garden
  • Write a story or begin your novel

If you’re “in,” leave a comment below about what you’ll do for 15 minutes a day this week. Then, just reply to your own comment each day you complete the activity.  You can just write “Done,” or tell us more about what you did, or how it’s going.

The Quinoa Quookbook

Just for fun, I’ll choose a random name from those of you who participate and give away a signed copy of The Quinoa Quookbook at week’s end.

Are you game? I’ll get the party started and leave the first comment.

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

23 comments to Let’s Explore the Incredible Power of Fifteen Minutes

  • Stacy Boone

    I have a business project that has been sitting on the backburner for 12-months (always citing “I’m too busy” to begin the process). This week I will spend 15-minutes a day preparing the proposal. Thank you for the challenge.

  • Georgina Bowie

    Forgot to put done yesterday, but that’s 2 days of managing to write in my journal for 15 mins each day. 😀

  • Nancy

    A few years ago after seeing the film American Beauty I committed to 15 minutes a beauty a day meaning I would look for some thing, anything in the world (people, places and thing) especially nature. It might be a brief moment of catching an oriole outside my window, a piece of clothing in a fashion magazine. I forgot about it, and this is a good reminder.

  • Green Girl Success

    I have two goals that I need to focus on, so I’m going to use two 15 minute slots: (1) I get plenty of exercise walking and biking since I went car-free, but I need to spend more time on stretching and resistance exercises. (2) I have a list of about 10 ebooks and informational products that I want to write for my business, so I need to get cracking on that!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • What a great idea. For those readers (like me) who aren’t familiar with Tabata, I just learned it’s a high-intensity, fat-burning workout done in short sprints. How perfect, Sheila! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Sheila C.

    Isn’t it funny how things come about just when they need to? I was just thinking yesterday that I need to recommit myself to doing 16 minutes (2 sets of 8 minute intervals) of Tabata workouts each day and along comes your 15 minute challenge. I’m in!

  • Georgina Bowie

    This is such a good idea. I’ve got so much on at the moment that I am getting a little stressed. So 15 mins of journalling a day would probably he a good idea.

  • I LOVE this idea! When I was a kid I did competitive speaking and my event was extemp (extemporaneous speaking.) The way it worked was that you got a current events question, and then you had 30 minutes to research and memorize your 5 minute speech. And you couldn’t just BS it either, you had to have actual evidence to back up your points. I have to say, that skill has served me beyond all others that I learned throughout my entire educational career! Aside from the obvious transfer to writing skills, just the knowledge that I had the power to do something meaningful in only 30 minutes was HUGE!

    At the moment I can’t think of anything that I want to commit to for the next week that I’m not already giving myself 15-30 minutes a day to do! But if I think of one I’ll write back… just wanted to say BRAVO on a wonderful idea!

    • Wow, your speaking competition sounds intense! But you are right, a person can do a surprising amount in a short time. I enjoyed seeing your new awning on your blog post, too! 🙂

  • Linda

    I am going to practice my clarinet even though the sound makes my dog howl. He seems to try to match pitch and actually does quite a good job of doing so. I play in a community band and don’t know my part very well yet in American Salute. I should probably commit to 20 minutes a day because we are playing that piece for a July 4th concert.

    • Oh Linda, your note made me chuckle. I played the clarinet in junior high, and it always made our dog howl, too. In my case I think I was hurting our dog’s ears with my terrible playing. Your dog sounds like he enjoys your melodies. Good luck with the American Salute!

      • I tried to play the clarinet in grade school, but was incapable of making any noise at all come out of the thing. Seriously, I couldn’t even make it squeak! So I am in extreme awe of anybody who can make actual music on one of those things! 🙂

  • I’m going to give this a try and spend those fifteen minutes developing the draft outline for my latest writing project. I’ve been putting it off far too long.

  • Lori Woodbridge

    I am in! I need something just like this to accomplish tasks often set aside for more meaningful items…laundry, dishes…WORK. I’ve always wanted to start journaling. I just got a new, pretty notebook and I’m off. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • Kyred

    I’m in to investigate a career change and how to finance it!

  • I feel like I’ve been wrapped up in work and chores lately, and I haven’t really indulged my creative muse. So I’m going to have fun and take photographs for 15 minutes every day this week.

    How about you?

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