How I Harness the Power of 15 Minutes

2:17:00 PM

Having a baby puts everything on hold for a while. All you should be doing in trying to get settled at home with the new member of your family, figuring out how to sleep, eat, and survive. Luckily for the first little while you usually have help. Grandmas come into town to help with other kids and the house. Husbands stay home to help take care of you. Friends stop by with dinner. Eventually the time comes when you need to be an active and contributing member of your family and society. But after a break, the hormones, and an extra kid, how!?

I use the 15 Minute Power trick. I can do anything for 15 minutes, even if it's something that I don't want to do. I used this trick in college to get started on difficult projects. I'd tell myself that I had to work solid for 15 minutes, and usually that was enough time to get me the momentum I needed to keep going. And if not, at least I did what I  said I would do, and I had already given myself permission to move on to something else.

When Corinne was a baby I made a list of what I needed to do everyday before Brett got home from work and put them into a flexible order based on their priority. Now that Jared is a month old, I've been using this same strategy. So here is my list, and then I will go over how I work them all in.

  1. Kids dressed and ready for the day. 
  2. Me dressed and ready for the day with bed made. 
  3. Everyone eating as needed. 
  4. Play with and give individual attention to Corinne. 
  5. Breakfast and lunch dishes done. (Dishes loaded and unloaded later)
  6. Dinner decided on and thawed as needed. 
  7. Main living spaces tidied up. 
  8. Bottles washed. 

So here's how it works. Whenever I have a break where the baby is napping I pick the next thing on the list and work on it as fast as I can, working my way down the list, for 15 minutes. Most of the time I can get more than one thing in those 15 minutes so I just keep going until the time is up. If I make it all the way through the list, next time I start at the top (or really #3) again.

Even if I just work myself through this main list, I've managed to keep everyone fed, clothed, clean, and the house never gets so bad I can't tackle it. I will make sure I am eating, that I have bottles ready for the next few feedings and other basic needs are being met. At the end of that 15 minutes I've already given myself permission to stop if I want. I can nap, read, scroll on my phone, watch tv, or just cuddle my babies. Guilt free.

Often I find myself getting more things done because I will jit my stride and keep going past the 15 minutes or do things that aren't on the list. I will catch myself thinking things like “While I'm up I may as well start this load of laundry.”  Or “What else needs to restocked in the diaper bag other than bottles?” It's amazing how many more things sneak in on the side.

I also love the flexibility that this 15 minute plan has, too. Often, I have a secondary list of things that I want to do but aren’t absolute musts for whenever I find a 15 minute moment. For example, today I wanted to work on editing this blog post and making a dessert to take to a friend’s house. I can get as much or as little done in a day as I want, it’s all up to me!

So what do you think? Do you have a similar version to my 15 Power Minutes? What other tricks to you have to stay motivated and productive during the extra busy phases of life?

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