Efficiency Tip – Get things done 20 minutes at a time
Ever had a long list of items on your to-do list and didn’t know where (or how) to start? Or ever wondered how to finish one of those projects that takes a few hours to complete, like creating the family photo album books you have been postponing all these years, or organising the pile of paper that has arrived in the post?
For me, the answer is 20 minutes on a timer.
I set my timer (on a watch or on my phone) for 20 minutes and from the moment I press start, I do nothing else but focus on the task at hand. I don’t allow myself to answer the phone, or reply to an email, or open a new website, or even take a bathroom break. For 20 minutes, I tell my head there are no distractions other than to focus on the task at hand. When the timer beeps, I’m free to do whatever I want.
If 20 minutes is all I’m capable of doing that day, I leave it at that and continue the next day with another 20 minutes until the job is done. Often though, when the 20 minutes are up, I find myself in the flow and keep going until the task is finished.
Breaking up big projects into smaller pieces makes it feel manageable – mostly in my head. And every time I finish those 20 minutes, I get a sense of accomplishment.
What about bigger projects?
For big projects, I work in 50 minute intervals (plus a 10 minute break). However, a lot of people feel they have more “20 minutes” than “50 minutes” throughout the day. Find the amount of time that works for you, set the timer and get things done. Good luck!
P.S. Another place where the 20 minute strategy might make sense is when checking social media or browsing the internet. I have spent countless amount of hours looking at pictures just to realise that an hour has passed and I have not accomplished a thing. Allow yourself time to wander, but limit it by timing it.