Ten Minutes At A Time: A Productivity Tip

For those of you who have been following the blog for a while, you know this isn’t my first productivity-centered post. I’ve shared tips and tricks on how I structure my to-do list and how I keep from returning to the same finished task in an effort to reach perfection—something I think happens to a lot of my creative friends.

But maybe you don’t need help re-prioritizing your tasks. You just need to finish this one report for work or for school or maybe you finally want to get around to cleaning your attic. These tasks aren’t necessarily urgent, so they often don’t get as much attention as those tasks that push you to make a doctor’s appointment for that chronic stomachache you’ve been having. But just because they aren’t urgent doesn’t mean they aren’t important, or that they don’t need to get done.

But how do we find the time? I’ll tell you. Just give it ten minutes.

I actually first heard of this idea from one of the countless YouTube videos I watched while in quarantine (come on, you can admit you watched hundreds of these too). The idea is simple. Set aside ten minutes a day for those tasks that always seem to fall on the wayside. Ten minutes. That’s it.

Now of course, there are some caveats. First, these shouldn’t be super urgent tasks that need to be completed by tomorrow morning. The point of the Ten Minute Rule isn’t speed. It’s just to help you get the job done. So you may not actually want to try this with that thesis for class unless it’s not do for like another six months. Instead, I think this rule works really well for cleaning or starting a hobby.

Second, don’t pick a lot of tasks to sample this rule with. What I mean is, don’t try the Ten Minute Rule with learning Spanish, packing the house to move, figuring out a system to store your old photos, and updating your blog’s website. That’s too many tasks. Your brain will figure out a way to convince you that you don’t have 40 minutes to spare and you won’t end up accomplishing any of them. Start off with one.

And third, commit. Do the task for the full ten minutes and do it every day. Pro tip: Try not to do it for too much more than ten minutes a day. Because eventually you may start to get tired of it and then you won’t want to come back to finish it. Stick to ten minutes.

Now let’s put this rule to action. Let’s take cleaning our rooms for example. My room doesn’t necessarily need to be clean by a certain day, so I can take some time to do it. And if I just apply the Ten Minute Rule to cleaning my room, then I don’t have to worry about setting aside even more time to doing anything else but this one task. Easy start.

I actually tried this exact scenario out, and seriously you guys, within just three days, I’d put away all my stray clothes and cleaned out a bunch of trash from behind my desk.

The crazy thing is I’m the kind of person that’s constantly telling herself she needs to clean her room, but “can never find the time to do it.” But with just ten minutes a day, I hardly even noticed the time I was giving. I’d just set a timer on my watch, get to work on cleaning—and try to avoid getting distracted, and when the timer went off, I’d stop. Pro tip: This “little-by-little” type of trick is actually really helpful with saving money too. Ten dollars a day adds up fast.

I love this rule because almost everyone has ten minutes a day they can spare to a task. So there’s really no justifying using that age-old excuse of “I don’t have enough time.” I also think ten minutes is the ample amount of time to dedicate to doing something you don’t like before you start to get bored, distracted, or even resentful of even having to do the task in the first place. It turns any big and daunting task into some easy conquerable.

Like with any change of habit, this is going to take some time to get used to. But if you do try it, keep at it. At least for a few weeks. Soon it’ll just become another part of your routine. And you’ll have a clean house to takeaway from it.

What are some tasks you’ve been putting off doing that could benefit from this trying this rule? What are some other motivation/productivity tips and tricks that you could share with the rest of us? Post them in the comments section down below!

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