Ten minutes doesn’t seem like much time, right? The standard workday in the United States is eight hours, which is 480 minutes, and many of us work something closer to 600 a day. Compared to 600, 10 minutes seems like nothing, but if used properly and consistently, those 10 minutes can make a substantial difference in your productivity.
If you’re struggling with executing a large project, or if you’ve been postponing a certain task because you just can’t fit it into your schedule, or if you’re just interested in improving your skillset but you don’t know how or where to start, consider taking 10 minutes a day to see your goals through.
The theory behind the “10 minutes a day” approach is based on the fact that even the busiest CEOs of the world can usually manage to set aside 10 minutes for something small. Over the course of days or weeks, as long as that 10 minutes is executed successfully and consistently, the end result will be completion of your designated task. It’s like setting aside a dollar every day in savings–you probably won’t miss the dollar, but at the end of the year you’d have a $365 windfall.
In this case, 10 minutes a day adds up to nearly an hour for every workweek. That’s an hour of newly found time that you can spend however you choose, assuming, of course, that you’re diligent with your daily practice. Over the course of a year, that’s more than 50 hours of work; more than an entire workweek of additional time.
The potential applications for this are limitless, but there are some fundamentals worth considering.
Ten Minute Projects
Let’s say you have a gigantic, looming project due in a few weeks or months, and you have no idea how you’re going to fit it in. It’s going to take hours of planning, hours of research, and even more hours of work to get everything done, and you can’t bring yourself to start it because you know it’s going to consume your life.
In this case, 10 minutes a day may not seem like enough–and if you’re dealing with a tight deadline, you might need additional help–but that extra hour a week could be just what you need to get a jumpstart on things.
During your first 10 minutes, break down the project into several phases, and then break each phase down into sub-phases. Then, break those sub-phases down into manageable tasks, and start listing the tasks in the order that they’ll need to be accomplished, 10 minutes at a time. Then, set a task aside for each day–before you know it, you’ll be deep into your project, and you might just build enough momentum to tackle it during the remainder of your workday.
Ten Minute Tasks
It’s also possible that there’s a task (or series of tasks) that you must perform regularly, but it always seems to elude you. For example, if you take responsibility for checking your company blog for comments on a weekly basis, analyzing web visitor traffic, and posting something new on social media every day, you can consolidate these micro-tasks into one daily 10-minute session.
Doing so will not only help you remember to execute these tasks on a regular basis, it could also save you time. Instead of suddenly remembering one of these tasks in the middle of a larger project and derailing your momentum, you’ll already have the time set aside to deal with them. You can do this with almost any regularly executed task, though some may require sessions longer than 10 minutes.
Ten Minute Reading
If you don’t have any standing tasks or projects you’re having trouble accomplishing, you can always spend 10 minutes a day to simply improve yourself. Start setting aside lectures or reading materials that interest you, and build up a queue for your consumption. All you’ll need to do is spend 10 minutes a day plugging through your material–reading a new chapter or breaking into a new lecture–and by the end of the year, you’ll have gained more than 50 hours’ worth of information. This is especially useful for overwhelmed employees; since most materials are available in an audio format, this 10 minutes can even be accomplished during a commute.
Ten Minute Exercise
Of course, 10 minutes of break time could lead to just as much productivity increase as 10 minutes of more work. Studies show that as little as five minutes of exercise a day can be beneficial in reducing stress and adding years to your lifespan, but 10 minutes is even better. Spend 10 minutes a day walking briskly outside the office or climbing the stairs to your floor, and you’ll gain the stress-relieving, productivity-enhancing benefits.
How to Find Those Ten Minutes
No matter how busy you are, it’s possible to find 10 minutes to execute your daily task. If you don’t believe that, you probably haven’t tried rearranging things in a way that allows those 10 minutes to come to fruition.
First, try chunking your time. It’s a bit of a tedious, mathematical process, but it can open up time slots you didn’t even know you had. As an example, if you work for 10 hours a day, break that time up into smaller chunks and designate those chunks for specific tasks or groups of tasks. You could spend an hour drafting paperwork, an hour running a web traffic analysis, two hours throughout the day checking and responding to emails, and so on. Use alarms or reminders to keep yourself on schedule and on task. Then, all you’ll need to do is shorten one of those periods of time by 10 minutes–that leftover period is now yours to do with as you see fit.
Second, try eliminating all your distractions–that includes work-related distractions as well. Turn off your phone, shut down your computer, and isolate yourself as much as you can for as long as you can. Start spending at least one hour a day working this way, and you’ll likely start to notice that hour becoming more and more productive. Eventually, you’ll save enough time that you can squeeze 10 minutes in at the end.
Alternatively, you can fit your 10 minutes a day into another previously occupied stretch of time. For example, you could spend 10 minutes working on a task while eating breakfast, or substitute 10 minutes of work for 10 minutes of reading the newspaper. If your 10 minutes of tasks include listening to an audiobook or brainstorming, you can even execute your 10 minutes a day as part of your daily commute.
The bottom line here is that anyone can find 10 minutes a day to work on a given project, and if you have 10 minutes a day to spend, you can eventually tackle any project. Keep this in mind the next time you encounter a project, a task, or a goal that you think is insurmountable, and try using this strategy to overcome it. With practice, it will get easier, and eventually you’ll have total mastery over your own productivity.