Helping Creative People Create

The Power of 10 Minutes

by glen

10 Minutes has gotten a bad rap. While it may seem like an insignificant amount of time, 10 minutes can be very useful in productivity. Although there aren’t many projects that can get done in 10 minutes, you sure can get one started.

As a matter of fact, I think that 10 minutes is way better than, say, 55. Any procrastinator worth his/her salt knows that your mind will take as long has been allotted to finish a task. If you’ve got 55 minutes to finish something, well by George it’s gonna take at least that long. Odds are you’ll slack off for 40 minutes and take the remaining 15 doing a shoddy job on whatever it is you’re working on.

Oh, but 10 minutes… now that’s a tasty number. Not only will ten get you started, you’ll probably be finished too, if you focus. And focus is practically required with 10 minutes. It’s a small, focused amount of time.

And if you’ve got five blocks of 10 minutes lying around in your day, that’s 50 minutes of highly-focused time. Compare that to a larger chunk of 50 minutes. That’s right, more time for procrastination. Small, focused, manageable bursts of productivity are much more effective than those flabby blocks of time.

I’ve found that breaking apart my day into 10 minutes blocks of time has been useful.  When those 10 minutes are up I take a quick break, move on to the next task or re-evaluate what still needs to be done on the current task.  This constant re-evaluation really keeps my mind from wandering off to other, less-important things, keeping my purpose razor sharp.

Do you guys use this method?  I’m sure we’ve got some opinions out there either for or against it.  I’d love to hear them…

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

raincoaster May 2, 2007 at 11:42 pm

It certainly works as a motivator during exercise: more and more trainers are telling their clients to just commit to ten minutes and then see how they feel. Of course, they know damn well that the clients will feel better after ten minutes and want to continue.

But it would definitely depend on the activity. If I’m doing an involved writing project, I wouldn’t break it down into anything less than hour units, because it would interrupt the flow. Fact is, though, that most of our tasks nowadays are designed to be highly interruptable and episodic, so this tip would work for most work-related activities.

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Pamela May 2, 2007 at 11:49 pm

I don’t necessaryly do it in 10 minutes, but the idea of breaking it into small pieces is what makes the task easier to do compare to doing it as a whole.

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Fran May 3, 2007 at 7:16 pm

I agree with your idea. It’s better to do our task in small alloted time rather than in one piece and waste most of the time.

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Leo May 3, 2007 at 10:44 pm

Great post, Glen. This is definitely a powerful idea. It’s something that works for me when I have a lot to do and not much time to do it — like right now! Back to work.

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Selene May 5, 2007 at 9:42 am

Doesn’t work for me: 10 minutes is the time it takes to get my attention focused on something.

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Selene May 6, 2007 at 9:29 am

I take back what I said: actually, there are things I can do in 10 minutes or even less.

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Alex May 6, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Projects that I planning a lot of time are very unsuccessful. But that things which appearing in 10-20 minutes always became very profit.

Thank you for this article.

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Alan May 6, 2007 at 9:26 pm

I agree. It’s better to start something even for a small time rather than do nothing or something unimportant. Time is always wasted by neglecting small amounts of time.

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glen May 7, 2007 at 12:34 am

Alan,

Exactly. It’s better to SOMETHING for 10 minutes than just fart the time away :)

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Matthew Cornell May 14, 2007 at 8:30 am

I’ve heard it called the “tolerable ten.” I like 96 minutes as well (80/20 rule applied to 8 hour day), and Drucker talked about 90 minute blocks…

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glen May 14, 2007 at 11:49 am

That’s a great concept: 96 minutes.

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Sheyha July 3, 2007 at 7:34 pm

I totally agree with the procrastination part =D Thanks a lot!

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The.Hanyee July 31, 2007 at 9:29 pm

This is certainly helpful as I probably rank in the top 1000 procrastinators in my region! It definitely gets one doing something about the task (especially initiating it) rather than wondering and whiling away the time. 15 minutes works mad miracles for me. Thanks for the insight!

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Gabriel Moldovan October 21, 2007 at 5:29 am

Yes indeed… I observed that my productivity is growing after a 10 minutes break…

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Surekha Tenneti January 21, 2008 at 10:07 pm

This is something I’d evolved for myself too, when feeling distracted and listless. That it is mentioned as a tool for good working, reaffirms the logic-process. Thanks.
Surekha

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Jeff Hess February 2, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Shalom Glen,

I’m Jewish so I use the number 18, plus a two-minute transition period, to divide my day into 20-minute blocks.

I keep a vital project in my backpack that I can work on in the 18 (or less) minute chunks so that I can fill what would otherwise be trashed downtime.

B’shalom,

Jeff Hess

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john April 4, 2008 at 11:40 am

hi,,,can give me idea to create circuit timer for 10 minutes,,,the timer on the minute and stop 10minute again,,,and after 10 minutes timer operation again,,,no used the reset button,,,can???
i have no idea about that,,can help me//if u can,,,email me the circuit and component to use…encik_amin@yahoo.com.my

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WGL February 5, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Love it, love it, love it! A little quality time is more productive and moves matters forward better than a whole lot of meandering. For AD folks like me, committing to a short period of time is enough to keep me on track to get it finished.

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asdf November 27, 2010 at 2:49 am

Such a technique has been developed and “researched”, it works with 25 min cycles. Check out http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/ they have a free good ebook about that.

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