A little while ago I was on a video call with a business partner of mine.
During the conversation she had my wife and I take part in an exercise.
The exercise involved reaching out to people and starting conversations. The aim was to put ourselves out there and make connections with people we hadn’t spoken with in a while.
We’d set aside 15 minutes for this exercise.
Message a few people via text or social media…
I really didn’t know how I felt about the exercise to be honest…and I didn’t know how many people I could really even talk to in 15 minutes anyways.
But I gave it a try.
I sent out messages to everyone I could think of.
I sent out more messages in that 15 minutes than I’d sent out in the last 6 months.
And no one responded.
See…I knew the exercise was pointless (I told myself).
After the call was finished with my business partner…
Like a huge wave crashing down in the ocean…my friends and acquaintances started to message me back, and for the next hour and a half I was talking to people that I hadn’t talked to in months.
A couple of the conversations actually continued into the next day.
And it was all because of 15 minutes.
The ripple effect of this small effort catapulted us into the next day.
It was like that movie “The Butterfly Effect”…except this version didn’t have Ashton Kutcher in it.
This wasn’t the first time I’d known about the power of 15 minutes.
I actually had practiced doing things in 15 minute increments for a long time.
Believe it or not, when you break down your day into 5, 10 or 15 minute intervals, it actually makes the day appear longer.
And isn’t that the goal? To squeeze every last second out of our time on this earth?
It makes your day longer because you are holding yourself accountable for the time you spend doing “things”.
When you think of your day in increments, you have to actually think about what your doing with your time.
You have to think about where your time is going.
I like working in 15 minute intervals because it’s just the right amount of time.
It’s not too long and not too short.
When I spend time with my 1 year old son, I’ve found the greatest results are when I spend a dedicated 15 minutes with him at a time.
That’s all that’s needed.
After a full day of being away, it’s understandable that my 1 and a half year old son wants to see me. He’s jumping on my legs, clawing at me to pick him up.
I dedicate 15 minutes completely to him at this point. My phone is on silent, and I’m not looking at anyone else but him for those 15 minutes. And by the time that block of time is over, he’s satisfied. He then runs off and is playing with his toys or is busy getting into something around the house.
But what he’s not doing is hanging off my leg crying or throwing a tantrum.
Because I’ve given him my 15 minutes.
And besides, if I gave him 2 hours of my undivided attention he would run away from me. That’s too long for anyone, let alone my infant son.
15 minutes of focused time is worth more than countless hours of unfocused time…. if you’re not spending productive, focused time with someone…the time itself is worth way less.
Just being around him isn’t good enough, I need to pay attention to him as well.
My mother told me that when I was younger, I’d get upset every time my parents had a conversation at the dinner table.
My parents wondered what I had against the dinner table and why I became upset every time we ate a meal together.
As time went on, they realized that it wasn’t the meal or the table that was upsetting me. It was the fact that no one way paying attention to me.
My parents would have conversations about their days, and I wouldn’t be included. (even though I was too young to speak), and this would upset me.
Maybe I was just a brat, who knows.
The point is, the fact that my parents were in the same room with me didn’t matter. It was the fact that the attention wasn’t focused on me for even a short period of time.
It takes more effort to fully focus on a task for 15 minutes than to haphazardly work on something for hours.
I find that I get more done in 15 minutes when I dedicate every one of those 900 seconds to the task at hand.
When I used to sit down at the computer to work, I could see 2 hours fly by and not get much work done, and by the end of it I’d be watching funny cat videos and checking my Facebook feed.
With 15 minutes of dedicated focus I find myself further ahead and more productive, and I actually feel like I’ve exerted more energy.
It’s more mentally draining, but far more rewarding.
Remember, we have the same amount of time in the day as the most successful and highest paid people in the world.
And if you have any question about whether or not their time is valuable, ask them for an hour of their time. I bet you it’ll be tough to get that hour.
Because highly successful people know the value of a second, minute and hour. And they don’t waste any of it for anybody.
And you shouldn’t either. Because you want to be successful, just like I do, or you probably wouldn’t have read this post and you’d be watching a funny cat video. (I have nothing against cat videos, but they definitely get viewed from time to time – but they are essentially useless).
Make the most of your time by scheduling intensely focused time on a task for shorter periods of time with frequent breaks. Otherwise, you’ll find your mind wandering and less tasks getting completed over the course of your day.
Hey, I only ever clean the house in 15 minute increments. I do this a few times a week. It’s better than procrastinating to do that 3 hour dreaded cleaning marathon (which inevitably never gets completed), and the house stays clean and tidy.
So, now that you’ve spent 4 minutes reading this post, what do you have planned for the rest of the day?