Do you tend to run out of day before you run out of to-do list?
Are there tasks that keep getting moved forward to the next day’s list….but they never get done?
Do large projects overwhelm or intimidate you?
Do you have a hard time maintaining focus on the tasks at hand?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, I have a fix for that. If you are like me and answered yes to everyone….I am about to be your hero of the day!
A super-effective way to help turn all those yes answers into no’s is to harness the power of the quarter hour. Once you’ve tapped into its power, you’ll not only be much more productive, but you will be less stressed too! Your self esteem goes up, as well because you are setting productivity goals and hitting them.
At one time I was raising five daughters home schooling, running my own business, managing our household (i.e. bills, housework, cooking etc)…and actually maintaining my sanity too, all at the same time!
How did I do it?
After an extended learning curve I’m surprised my family survived. I discovered some keys and applied them. Failure wasn’t an option because nobody could replace me. I had to manage it, so I found ways. One of the keys found in learning to use 15-minute chunks of time.
Tapping into the power of the quarter hour is a simple two-step process anyone can do. Start applying them and you’ll be on your way to feeling like a productivity superhero. So, let’s not waste time and learn how.
Skyrocket your productivity 15 minutes at a time.
Why fifteen minutes? Because it is a size of bite you can handle. It’s much like the saying about how you eat an elephant….one bite at a time.
Faced with an elephant to eat, the task may seem overwhelming, so you have no desire to do it. But, it must be done, so you break it down to one bite a time. Of course you can do one bite, so you do (ewwwww). Then you take another until it is done.
Now, let’s apply that to some things that are a wee bit more pleasant than eating an elephant. Let’s say you want to write a book. A lot of people have that idea on a back burner, but never get to it. I know of several, myself included. That big picture…a finished and edited, ready-to-sell book…is intimidating as can be. But not if you break it down into fifteen minute tasks.
- How much can you outline in fifteen minutes?
- What topic can you research in fifteen minutes?
- Can you develop a thought in fifteen minutes?
- How many quality words can you churn out in fifteen minutes?
Break the process of writing a book down into fifteen minute tasks. Then order them, check them off as they are done, moving on to the next. You’re tackling it one bite at a time, and it is not the least bit stressful. Not only that, you are feeling a sense of accomplishment…..finally. The idea of writing a book no longer haunts you. You are doing it.
I used that same process when I was developing my cosmetics line.
On a back burner, as I was still selling antiques and books on eBay at the time. I knew what I wanted to do, but had one heck of a time finding time to do it, until I applied the power of the quarter hour.
I researched one cosmetic ingredient at a time. I researched formulas, one at a time. I played in the lab with formulas, one at a time. I did 75% of all the groundwork for the makeup company in fifteen minute hunks of time I set aside here and there.
Those are examples of how to use the power of the quarter hour to tackle big projects. But, what about smaller, day-to-day tasks? Break them down into fifteen minute tasks too.
That’s particularly helpful if your day-to-day life tends to be full of interruptions. With all those children I had, interruptions were the norm. If I got interrupted during an hour long task, it’d mess me up, big time when I’d try to get back on track.
Working through lists of fifteen minute tasks, interruptions were not that big of a deal. I would either be at the beginning of the task, or close to the end. It reduced the impact interruptions had on my day down to nearly none.
Use fifteen minute segments to destroy the small tasks.
These are the tasks that don’t scream for attention, so you seldom get to them. The tyranny of the urgent keeps us from them. The power of the quarter hour can get them done.
It can also include tasks that require a few quarter hour time slots to complete. But that’s okay. You are getting it done, one bite at a time. Some examples are:
- Cleaning out the refrigerator
- Washing windows
- Catching up on mending
- Decluttering the house
- Reorganizing your office
I first started using the fifteen minute task lists after I gave birth to my first daughter. She had colic for her first six months. I’d managed of my responsibilities fine all through college. but having a colicky baby ground my productivity to a halt. I got a notebook and broke every duty I had down to fifteen minute hunks. It might have meant it took 4 fifteen-minute sessions in a day to get my kitchen clean, but it got it done. I wasn’t stressing so badly either because I knew I had a plan of attack and was attacking it. Whew! It was a lifesaver.
I still use this method when feeling overwhelmed with a big task. Those small tasks that usually nag me have their own list.
When I find myself with an extra fifteen minutes, I bite off another chunk.
Managing the 96 quarter-hour slots of time we get each day.
Why is that easier than trying to manage bigger blocks? Since I have everything broken down to fit into a fifteen minute time slots. I don’t underestimate the amount of time it will take to get something done. as often as I do when working in larger chunks of time.
For example, let’s say I have a blog post to write. I think it will take about two hours, from start to finish. Looking at that big time block saying “write blog post” is loose. What happens is it ends up taking an hour longer than I thought because I did not break it down into fifteen minute tasks to check off.
I might have played with the outline longer than I needed to. I spend a few more minutes extra on each section, a little dilly dallying along the way….because I do have two whole hours to complete it. Ultimately, it takes more like three because I was not tight on my plan.
When I break it down into 15 minutes each for outlining, the intro, each of three sections, a conclusion, and then a final edit. I can do each section in that fifteen minutes because I know I must. So, I do. The blog posts is done in the two hours.
If I get an interruption, it is easy to take in stride. My entire household is more peaceful when I operate in quarter hour chunks of time.
Don’t think you can break down everything you do into 15 minute slots?
Use the power of the quarter hour to start the process. Pick out an area you feel you need help in being more productive in. Break all the tasks you do down to items that can be completed in fifteen minutes. Start applying this method! You will find you are working more efficiently and have extra quarter hours you can use each day.
I’ve recently gone back to implementing this in my own life. I was staying stressed, always behind and feeling like a failure because I was always behind. I won’t accomplish much of anything for anybody if I am wallowing in defeat. I had to get control over my productivity. I’ve used this method on and off for over 30 years, so I came back to it. I am more peaceful, in control over my days, and yes, getting much more done each day.
Does that sound nice? You can do it too! Decide, right now, what trouble area you wish to work on. Make a commitment to breaking it down into fifteen minute tasks.
When you are done, I challenge you to comment your intention to improve in that area. Putting it out there like that keeps us more motivated to succeed so we save face. Then when you are knocking out the work like never before, come back and tell us all about it! Enjoy!
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