The Fifteen-Minute Win: How to Start Taking Action

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Let me tell you a story. A few years ago, my mentor asked me to give a keynote at her annual business mastermind. She wanted me to talk about how to create an online program. Now, at the time, I had just launched my first ever virtual program, The Virtual Closet Makeover program, and I felt wildly under-qualified to give a keynote on the topic. I said yes, but then I procrastinated. Big time. Every time I thought about the keynote I would feel a wave of dread. I just could not find the focus to sit down and get started.

Weeks passed, and the nagging sense of dread only increased. Then one day, a little voice popped into my head, “just try it for fifteen minutes” the voice said. “See what you can do.” Something about this simple prompt resonated, and I decided I could do anything for fifteen minutes. I sat down to write, and then I just kept writing. Fifteen minutes turned into a couple hours, and once I started, I literally could not stop. I finished the keynote in less than 24 hours.

I’ve been applying this “fifteen minute challenge” to my work, and life, ever since, and even launched a #15minwin challenge on Instagram. I’ve been blown away at the response. Fifteen minute victories have been flooding in from all over the world. People have cleaned out entire refrigerators, tackled a dreaded work task, washed their cars, and tidied that dreaded area under the kitchen sink. The response has been universally positive and delightful. I was even interviewed about how the 15-minute win can boost productivity on one of my favorite business podcasts: The Femails. Listen here.

So, if you’re ready to get out of overwhelm and into action, I hope you’ll join me for a 15-minute challenge. It couldn’t be simpler. Here’s how:

Pick a Single Task

This can be anything, large or small. I’ve used it to start working on my taxes, send back a return to Amazon, pay a bill, do the dishes, you name it…

Set a Timer

There is something magical about fifteen minutes – it’s enough time to make major progress, but a small enough window to slip into your schedule. Grab your kitchen timer, stop watch, or even your iphone, and let’s get going…

Allow Any Resistance That Comes Up

Now, this is the most important part. Even if you don’t want to take action when the time comes (and you will almost definitely will NOT), simply allow the resistance. Let it be there. Don’t push it away, don’t panic. Just allow it. The idea is that when most people feel resistance, they immediately stop or quit or distract themselves or procrastinate. They use it as an excuse to stop taking action.

Conversely, when you get comfortable with feeling resistance, but take action in spite of it, you will start developing integrity with yourself. You will start seeing yourself as someone who follows through no matter what. This is one of the most important life skills you can learn and practice. If you can allow yourself to feel discomfort and still take action, you will be able to tackle any goal. You will be unstoppable.

See What You Can Do

I love to turn dreaded tasks, like filing, into a game. Can I do it in less than fifteen minutes? Can I make it fun? Can I do it faster than I’ve ever done it before? Once the timer starts, your only job is to stay focused on your single task for fifteen whole minutes. You’ll be shocked at what you can do. Let the games begin!

Have you been struggling with a dreaded task, or even just a general sense of overwhelm when you approach your to-do list? I’m breaking down exactly how I organize my life, and mind, in The Get Organized Master Class. All the details are right here.

I LOVE celebrating your little wins. Tag me on Instagram @shiragill and use the hashtag #15minwin to share your 15-minute victories. I can’t wait to see what you do!

Image Credit: Vivian Johnson Photography

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