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The 15 Minutes a Day Idea.

by J. Money on Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Less is more.I’m reading this killer book by Leo Babauta called The Power of Less, and in it he suggests to spend 15 mins. a day on a new habit to work on. It’s brilliant! Just enough to get you to take action, but not enough to wear you out. I actually look forward to this “work on me” time!

I’ve been using it to declutter our house more (and subsequently my brain), but you can surely apply it to anything in life – even finance. It’s been about 12 days now and I’m still going strong, baby! Incredible. And perfect for us A.D.D. folk ;)

What I love the most about this concept is that it gets you to STOP all the craziness of your day – whether it’s in the morning, day, night, whatever – and helps you to FOCUS on a simple task. Whatever you choose it to be. It’s fascinating because you’d think out of 24 hours each day that 15 minutes wouldn’t mean jack, but sometimes we just go and go and go w/out ever stopping and consciously prioritizing our time and wants in life. Like everything’s one big “swoosh,” ya know?

15 minutes doesn’t seem a lot of time (power of less, eh?) but it can do wonders if spent wisely. Think about it – what would you do with an extra 15 mins every day? If a genie stopped time and said GO! Do whatever you want for 15 mins and then we’ll start the day up again! Would you use it to better your lifestyle?

I encourage you to take a few minutes right now and really think about what goal you’d love to achieve this month. It could be the smallest, or simplest one out there – it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that it’s a habit that makes you happy. A habit that gets you towards a healthier YOU.

Here are some ideas if it helps. Some are financial, and others not:

  • Declutter your house. In these past 12 days I’ve cleaned out my closet, drawers, cabinets under the sink, kitchen cupboards, and just last night my file cabinets! (although that took 3 hours – but the point is I would have never started had it not been for this new mindset)
  • Review a bill each night. I guarantee you’ll find places you’re overspending.
  • Run/walk around the block. Much easier to do knowing it’s only 15 minutes, right?
  • Do art.Pick up a brush, sharpie, block of clay, whatev. Just go for it!
  • Eat healthier. Prepare 1 meal ahead of time each day so you know you’re eating well.
  • Clip/download coupons. Buy the same stuff every week? Spend a few mins finding deals!
  • Review your cash flow. Jot down what went out, and what came in for the day.
  • Read before bed. If you’re a slacker like me, this will really get you in the habit of reading more :) Plus, I find it’s a great way to let your mind release that day’s stresses before zonking out.

The list goes on and on my friends! I asked my newsletter subscribers this very same question and the results were outstanding (some of which are listed above). I may be in the “new & shiny” excitement phase right now, but I honestly couldn’t be happier. And I want YOU to be happy too! So again I ask – how could 15 minutes improve YOUR life today?


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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 S February 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm

15 minutes of sleep is always a positive thing!

I like the idea of looking at your bills every night and beginning to notice idiotic trends on where we waste our money. Just ordered this book on amazon, we can have a Oprah Book Club now J, just without Oprah!

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2 Lulu February 17, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I have been using my 15 minutes to exercise. I do yoga in the morning before work for 5 minutes and hula hoop for 10 while getting the news.

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3 Brandi February 17, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Unloading/reloading dishwasher and wiping off the counter – 15 minutes baby!!

Folding one clean load of laundry & making the bed – 15 minutes!!

Opening/paying bills…ugh…15 minutes :)

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4 Dustin | Engaged Marriage February 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I think Leo stole my idea. ;)

Seriously, I've been promoting the idea that it only takes 15 minutes a day of "couple time" (and no that's not code for sex) to really make a marriage thrive. I definitely see how this could apply to any area of our lives where we want to improve.

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5 Investing Newbie February 17, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Wow, that is such a good idea, especially since I want to start reading more. So just setting aside that time before I go to bed is actually pretty wise.

I have been in a way using "downtime" at the office to spend a little bit of work on grad school apps. Sometimes the creative juices are flowing more than other, but by spending a little bit of time on those apps have come a long way!

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6 Jane February 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm

The one problem with us A.D.D. folk is that we get so excited about ALL the different things we could do during those 15 minutes. :) (I could work on cookie designs, make jewelry, take photos, go running, etc, etc…)

I do love 15 minute blocks of time, though. I think I'll try to play my ukulele 15 minutes a night.

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7 J. Money February 17, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Another trick in the book is to focus on 1 goal per month. So if you want to declutter, for example, you only spend your "extra 15 mins" on cleaning out the house once a day for 30 days. Then, when it becomes habit, you can try another goal for the next month – say doing more art or something. In theory you'd pick up 12 new goals/habits that make your life better :)

Some responses:

@Sid – You will not be disappointed my friend! "J & S's Book Club" here we come!
@Lulu – Hah! love it :)
@Brandi – That seems like 45 mins a day to me ;)
@Dustin | Engaged Marriage – Ooooooh I like that idea too! "Couple Time" – smooth, man.
@Investing Newbie – There you go :) Utilizing your time better will make your days SO MUCH more satisfying. If you can tell yourself you accomplished everything you set out to do that day as you lay down to sleep you are a rock star.
@Jane – Yeah, just focus on ONE thing a day! Then when you get it on lock, try picking up another 15 min'er :)

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8 Heather February 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I love this idea. My husband and I are moving in about 8 weeks and even though the military is going to pack stuff for us, I really need to clean stuff out and declutter so when we move, all the stuff we want is packed and none of the junk we DON'T want is taken with us. I think I'll start this tonight! =)

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9 Abigail February 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm

My mom has always loved this notion in relation to cleaning. When she can't get started because it seems so overwhelming, she sets a timer for 15 or 20 minutes and just sees how much she can get done. That way, it's a little like a game. But it's mainly that she knows she can stop very soon and still feel like she accomplished something.

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10 Ariella February 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm

You have some great ideas here. For those who have young children, taking 15 minutes a day to read to them will have an excellent payoff in developing a love of reading and bringing you closer together.

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11 lifeexcursion February 17, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Hey J. Money—

I loved The Power of LESS. Leo is a very influential person in so many right ways.

I try to find my own 30 minute me time everyday. Sometimes it is spent playing PS3 or throwing the football around. But 30 minute me time is a must.

Like The Power of LESS, I am a minimalist. I just finished my second eBook entitled PROJECT M-31 which you can check out here…http://theminimalistpath.com/project-m-31-simplify-your-life-in-31-days/ (J- You can delete this comment if you don't want this link in here…no worries)

I hope you all can feel the positive influence of minimalism.

David Damron
The Minimalist Path & LifeExcursion

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12 Sarah O'Neill February 17, 2010 at 8:57 pm

This is a take off from the fundamental principals of flylady.net, excellent way to tackle huge, ugly, projects into mini digestible undertakings.

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13 Robert February 17, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I love the idea. However, it's difficult to STOP for 15 minutes each day. I think it's easier to do this before work in the morning when you're alone and have a little more free time. After work my mind is so cluttered that I can hardly think straight!

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14 Jolie February 18, 2010 at 1:08 am

I started doing this a couple years ago when I felt like everything was whirling hopelessly out of control. Once a month I create a list (often the list is regurgitated) of 15 minute chores. 30 of them. I add or delete lists as different things comes up. Before I go to bed each night I scan the list for one thing I want to accomplish. I started getting up 15 minutes earlier to accomodate this. When I finish it, I cross it off. This gives me some power of choice but acknowledges the items that often get left behind. Amazing how many 15 minute chores you can find (and accomplish) when you do this. Great post, as usual, J :-)

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15 J. Money February 18, 2010 at 1:41 am

Lots of great discussion going guys! This is awesome.

@Heather – DO IT! do it!!!! Excellent plan. The less you bring over, the less you'll have to unpack too! I want a report on it tomorrow ;)
@Abigail – Love it! I have a hard time stopping too so I could totally use that timer :) (and now you know what to get me for Xmas next year)
@Ariella – Awwww, ain't that cute :) Beautiful idea, thanks for sharing.
@lifeexcursion – Dude, totally okay! Anything having to do with minimalism can go on this site :) Really glad you dropped that – will be adding it to my future reads buddy.
@Sarah O'Neill – (for a second I thought your name was "Shaq O'Neil!" got all excited! haha…) Yeah, I actually JUST learned about Fly Lady this week and linked to her within the post ;) Also just started following her on Twitter – excited to see what she's about.
@Robert – True, but that's the point ;) This FORCES you to stop and do something about it, or you'll just keep on running full-speed until you overload. Although there's nothing wrong w/ giving it a shot in the morning before work, whatever you like.
@Jolie – I like that! I do much better accomplishing a lot of mini-tasks than I do large ones (thus the reason I tend to pay off lower credit card bills first even if others have higher interest rates), so that would fit in well with my personality. And lists just plain rock :)

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16 Little House February 18, 2010 at 1:45 am

That's a great idea. Though, I think I'm already doing this with my 20-minute Shred workout. So I'm really spending 5-minutes more, but getting a similar benefit. The hardest part is dropping everything and doing it!

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17 drmomof2 February 18, 2010 at 2:18 am

I have been using my 15 minutes to clean out my office at home. I actually have made alot of progess and can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I think that I should be done by Monday! Hooray!

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18 2 Cents @ Balance Junkie February 18, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I have been meaning to buy and read this book. I already have a habit of reading before bed because it usually makes me sleepy. That works against me sometimes when I try to read during the day! Thanks for mentioning the book. I think I'll use today's 15 minutes to hit Amazon.

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19 HighClassLowIncome February 18, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Thats a great idea! I always hear people giving fitness advice like that. Every little bit counts!

I'm especially prone to having this "all or nothing" mentality so I like the idea! I should probably start devoting 15 minutes a day to decluttering as well.

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20 J. Money February 18, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Every little bit DOES help for sure! Same with saving here and there – it all snowballs and works towards your advantage. Most of us say we're going to start something later but that later sometimes never comes. We're always waiting for the "perfect moment" to being – whether it's buying a house, having a baby, getting a better job, etc etc. You work on that for a handful of minutes a day and you'll get there MUCH quicker – believe it.

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21 Lillie February 18, 2010 at 6:13 pm

What a concept. I think I'll invest in the book and my first step will be to finish reading it in 15 minutes increments since I have a habit of starting to read a book and never finish. I shared this with my co-workers and they are brainstorming to see what they can do with the extra time. Now to get busy!

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22 J. Money February 18, 2010 at 8:40 pm

YES, do it!!!

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23 Bobby September 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Reading for 15 minutes is a great way to wind down at the end of the day.

Not sure 15 minutes is enough to learn how to play guitar, but it would definitely get me started on learning it again.

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24 J. Money September 19, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Oh yeah, for sure. Because you’d end up playing over the 15 mins when you sat down ;) That’s what ended up happening to me a lot – I only mean to go in for 15 and I leave like 45 later, if not more. It’s just the *starting* that’s so hard to do.

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