Throw A 'Do Something You've Been Avoiding' Party For 10 Minutes

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What’s that one nagging item that keeps rolling over from week to week on your to-do list? Mending the seam on your favourite shirt? Cleaning off your desk? Filing a month’s worth of mail?

You can probably do it in just 10 minutes. And if you have a buddy to work with, maybe you’ll finally stop avoiding that task.

This tip comes from OkieSpaceQueen on Twitter, who shared the productivity power of a 10 minute session spent on just one task you’ve been avoiding.

Lifehacker Senior Health Editor Beth Skwarecki was impressed. But I live alone, and I was sceptical. The hack, I initially believed, depended on having someone in the same dwelling as you, and tackling tasks separately, but together under the dual pressures of time and cohabitation. “This makes me want a roommate for like...10 minutes,” I remarked. “Then they can leave.”

But Beth suggested having a 10-minute-timer session via text message, and before we knew it, Beth, Virginia and I set a time on the Lifehacker calendar to test it out.

At the top of the hour, we said hello on Slack, set timers on our smartphones and got to work. I put the duvet cover back on the duvet on my queen-size bed, a task that’s not that hard but that I’ll put off for ages if you let me. Virginia drafted an email she had been avoiding. And Beth got the Most Productive award for cleaning off her whole damn desk.

Left: A whole year of avoidance. Right: A tidy desk with only the essentials. (Photo: Beth Skwarecki)

Beth actually asked for more time when the 10 minutes was up so she could tuck away a few items and finish the task. And that’s probably biggest benefit of the 10-minute challenge, when you think about it. Once you see how much you can accomplish in 10 minutes, you start tacking on other things you can do in just a moment or two.

My avoidance of the duvet cover comes from my assumption that it takes 20 minutes of wrestling to get it done, when in reality it only took me seven. I looked around my bedroom, shrugged, and started plucking clean laundry out of the basket to put away. I didn’t get it all done in my remaining minutes, but I made a dent in the pile.

It feels so cheesy to think we need to band together like this, across the web if not with those in our own homes, to accomplish small tasks. But if you’re battling to-dos that have expanded in the time you think they’ll take to complete, start with 10 minutes and see how far you get. You’ll probably be able to cross the task off your list once and for all.


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