10 Minutes a Day

Knitting a scarf

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”
— Mark Twain

I occasionally get stuck in procrastination-dread mode, and I can’t budge. Months go by with no progress toward a goal. Sometimes I can’t manage to complete a simple chore. There was that thank you note of 2004 I had always intended to write. And I had meant to deal with that pile of old clothes throughout 2007.

I’ve been having some success lately, though, by using a new technique.

When I catch myself avoiding something, I commit to just 10 minutes a day. Who can’t spare 10 minutes, right?

These are some of the goals I’ve completed using 10 minutes a day of effort:

I’m also making progress on three of my remaining six challenges on my “101 things” list using this technique:

  • Juggling (finally making some progress {!}, but please send me kind thoughts of gravity-defying coordination)
  • Knitting
  • De-cluttering

I feel silly to admit that I’ve sometimes had to set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes to get myself to stick with a dreaded task for more than a minute or two. I might end up working at it for more than 10 minutes, but 10 minutes of messing up every three seconds while trying to juggle? That’s a long ten minutes.

One positive side-note is that with skills-based tasks the consistent practice really helps momentum to build. With juggling, for example, I made no progress at first, but on Day 5, I noticed a very tiny adjustment I could make to do a little better, and each day after that I kept seeing more and more progress.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
— Karen Lamb

What about you? Are there any unpleasant tasks or ambitious goals that you could chip away at for 10 minutes a day?

P.S. I am giving NaBloPoMo a try, posting each day in November. This’ll take more than 10 minutes a day.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.

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29 Responses to 10 Minutes a Day

  1. Erica M says:

    Happy nablopomo day! There are so few things I can stick with for 10 minutes unless you count the extraordinary methods needed to leave a blog comment by mobile phone. Thanks for hanging out with us this month at yeah write!
    Erica M recently posted..BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo at yeah write: Day 1—so are you joining us or what?My Profile

  2. I thought for sure that you would say you were going to use your 10 minutes/day technique for NaBloPoMo. Thanks for sharing this idea. I’ve heard it before, but seeing you list the things you’ve accomplished by devoting ten minutes is inspiring.
    that cynking feeling recently posted..NaBloPoMo 2013My Profile

  3. Nichole says:

    That is an excellent idea. I’ve been trying to talk myself into resuming some kind of exercise routine. I might possibly actually do it if I’m only committing to 10 minutes a day!
    Nichole recently posted..Here we NaBloPoMo againMy Profile

  4. Jake says:

    I’m a knitter! Hopefully you’ll find that you like knitting a lot and can do more than 10 minutes a day – I sometimes forget how long I’m knitting for because I’m watching TV while doing it, so hours sometimes go by.
    Jake recently posted..Oh What A Lovely WarMy Profile

    • Marcy says:

      The World Series definitely helped with my knitting progress. My husband was watching the games, and I was just giving the TV some attention while knitting. If there had been a game seven, I would have gotten even more done. I still found, though, that I would do it for a short period and then set it aside for a bit and then pick it up again. What kind of projects do you do?

      • Jake says:

        I’ve been working on a blanket for what feels like 7 years now when in fact it’s only been 1, but I mostly do scarves and hats. I tried mittens once but I couldn’t figure it out, haha. Hats are my favorite, especially when you’re just doing knit stitches around, because you don’t have to count or even look while doing it because you know it’s the same stitch for like 6 inches. What are you working on right now?
        Jake recently posted..Oh What A Lovely WarMy Profile

        • Marcy says:

          I’m knitting a scarf. I like how it is coming out with the yarn changing into different colors. When the yarn runs out, I’m hoping it will be long enough to look like a scarf, but I don’t know how long it’ll be. (I just poked around your blog looking for a picture of a hat or the blanket.)

  5. Robbie says:

    Ten minutes a day is a great strategy….and one I should try myself.
    Robbie recently posted..Twenty FourMy Profile

  6. Stacie says:

    I’m always so impressed with all the new stuff you do. I want a video of the juggling once it clicks into place!
    Stacie recently posted..Comment on I’m Back, Better Than Ever by Cindy I the Reedster SpeaksMy Profile

    • Marcy says:

      I’ll post some video soon, or at least that’s the idea. I seem to have hit a plateau and haven’t reached where I would like to be. It’s hard to tell when to declare that I have completed the challenge because I have done some juggling where I have kept it going for about 25 throws, and then the next five times I will drop them quickly. Not there yet.

  7. Stacie says:

    Ok I have no idea why the link says by Cindy at the Reedster speaks. I love her but that’s so weird.
    Stacie recently posted..Comment on I’m Back, Better Than Ever by Cindy I the Reedster SpeaksMy Profile

  8. Cumulus says:

    Ten minutes is exactly what I spent every day reading Latin. And by every day I really mean most days, generally five or six a week. One day a week I spend my ten minutes reviewing vocabulary and grammar, but the other days I work my way through whatever I’m reading at the time, currently Cicero’s De Diuinatione.

    • Marcy says:

      That’s fantastic. I have tried at Spanish on and off over the years, but not with any disciplined approach.

      I took Latin in high school, and my teacher showed us a silly Latin pun one time that I’ve always remembered, even though I’ve forgotten everything else: Semper ubi sub ubi.

  9. Liz says:

    The 10-minute goal is such a good idea. I tend to try and spend as much time as possible doing something and then burn out. Particularly with de-cluttering!

    Good luck!
    Liz recently posted..NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo Day 1My Profile

  10. Trina says:

    I feel your pain. I am the procrastination queen! I’d be the one to pause the timer because I found something more interesting to do (for about 3 minutes and then I’d have found something else). However, I too, am participating in NaBloPoMo…Here’s to curing the procrastination bug!
    Trina recently posted..What the he!! am I thinking!My Profile

    • Marcy says:

      That happens to me, too, especially if I’ve had a lot of coffee. I can get a lot done when I am avoiding the one thing I don’t want to do. Good luck with the blogging challenge.

  11. Rara says:

    That sounds like a great system! A little bit of focus goes a long way, I think. 🙂 I’m looking forward to following along with your NaBloPoMo!
    Rara recently posted..Eerie Snowy Bunny DreamMy Profile

  12. gem says:

    Cleaning….no, organizing! And making sure my son gets to play outdoors, weather permitting.
    gem recently posted..The b*tch witchMy Profile

  13. Susan says:

    I’m a knitting addict, and often spend way more time knitting than I should. I’ve recently started spinning as well, and I’m employing your 10 minutes a day technique, except I’m aiming for 20 minutes a day of spinning. That’s still about as long as I can go before I start getting so frustrated the mistakes start multiplying, but it’s getting better! I keep reminding myself how clueless I felt when I started knitting and now it’s so simple. Now if I could just start applying the same technique to something like exercise.
    Susan recently posted..NaBlo Blah, Blah, BlahMy Profile

    • Marcy says:

      I liked what you said about feeling clueless at the start. That’s true of so many things. With the knitting, I needed someone to show me, and since she is right-handed, that’s the way she showed left-handed me. It was SO awkward at the start, but now I am used to it.

  14. story says:

    I’m so with you. I need to use a timer for everything. I use it for cleaning, for writing. To get me off twitter. I should try to use it for playing and resting too. 🙂
    story recently posted..But what’s the Point?My Profile

  15. Coming over from YeahWrite—-love the 10 minute idea. I need to cultivate that one. A timer is not lame. At all. I would definitely have my “clock” on my phone going and yes—committing to NaBloPoMo is going to take more than 10 minutes a day. My goal is to visit each blog at least once this month that is on the YeahWrite list. Don’t know if I can do the entire NaBloPoMo list on BlogHer. 🙂
    Beth Ann Chiles recently posted..NaBloPoMo + Amazon SmilesMy Profile

    • Marcy says:

      I like that approach for visits, Beth. I already feel behind on visiting the other blogs, but that’s where a lot of the fun will come in. 🙂

  16. KG says:

    These are great tips! I have another one that might or might not work.
    Make a ToDo list and time yourself for an hour and stick to ONLY this list.See how much of it you can do. Take a break..do something fun for 20 minutes and if you still have stuff on the list, do another hour increment! You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done.

    Also, don’t place too many things on the TODO list! You don’t want to overwhelm yourself either.

    Visiting from SITS Sharefest.
    Happy Saturday friend!

    Keep it Touched,
    KG recently posted..Happy Halloween Friends!My Profile

    • Marcy says:

      That’s a great idea, KG! I sometimes put a “to do” list at the top of a Google doc I have, and I check off the items I completed at the end of the day or carry them over to the next day when needed. There is something about checking off an item on a list that I find very motivating.

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