The 20 Minute Solution


in Happiness

Some days, the words don’t come easily. The ideas aren’t popping. The fire won’t start (literally). The printer won’t work and the computer seems to be having a mid-life crisis. The house is a mess even though you seem to do nothing but pick up after everyone. The paperwork that needs to be filled out is multiplying before your eyes yet you can’t get to it no matter how hard you try.

Ever had a day like that? Or even a week?

I have, just this past week, and it is not the best of times. In fact, it can be quite maddening. It reminds me of that movie, Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray repeats the same day over and over again. No progress, just a loop of frustration.

Thankfully, somewhere towards the end of the week, I remembered the 20 minute solution and it saved me once again.

If you have multiple things coming at you at once and are feeling overwhelmed, you have a couple of options. You can do nothing and wait for it to pass. This is a good option and sometimes exactly the one that is needed to gain perspective and reclaim your bearings.

Or, you can walk to your kitchen timer and set it for 20 minutes. During that 20 minutes, you will devote yourself to one task only and when the timer goes off, you move on to the next thing – regardless of its state of completion. Take that 20 minutes to pick up the house, write, fix that silly computer, or work on whatever is troubling you.

Twenty minutes is actually a long time. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish when you know that you only have to give it 20 minutes of your attention. Interestingly, after the first few 20 minute “rounds,” you will probably find that a shift in your energy and attention has occurred.

You may feel more productive and relaxed because something has actually gotten started or even completed. You may even find that you are having fun in your efforts to beat the clock. Now, wouldn’t that be nice after the week you’ve had?

Try it. It’s just 20 minutes.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie @ Happy Maker December 11, 2010 at

Great idea Andrea. Love it. I shall do that on those days were I feel like I am just stuck in the mud and can’t seem to get anything done.
Thanks again and I have my timer ready to go


Andrea December 11, 2010 at

Yahoo! I was just telling a friend how much I got accomplished using my timer … hope the same happens for you. Thanks, Debbie!


Angel December 11, 2010 at

Ok, brilliant! Makes complete and total sense to me because there have been so many times when I’ve been in a situation of ‘this-must-get-done-within-the-next-xxx-minutes-NO-MATTER-WHAT’… and guess what? It almost always does. Yep, when I have some kind of time-sensitive deadline, I manage to buckle down & focus… and get. it. done. (This is not to say that I’m the type who works really well under pressure. I’m not, and I don’t…. this idea is somehow a bit different from that.)

Yay Andrea! Totally going to use this… in fact, maybe tomorrow. My desk is crying out for me to be able to see the top of it again, and my to-do list is just crying from lack of attention ;-)
Angel recently posted..Flipping the bird at conventional ideas of spirituality


Andrea December 11, 2010 at

Let me know how it turns out, Angel. I bet you end up having loads of fun!


Jesse December 11, 2010 at


Love this one. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that the tasks require much more time than they really do. I’ll tell myself, “Work on X for 10 minutes and see how much you get done.”

If I set the timer for 20 minutes, I bet I’ll get lots of things crossed off the list.

But not tonight. Too tired. ;)


Andrea December 11, 2010 at

I understand tired! Get some rest and give it a whirl when you’ve got time. Can’t wait to hear how it works for you, Jesse. :)


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