Fifteen Focused Minutes

Spend fifteen focused minutes every day on your #1 priority

What is fifteen focused minutes?

The idea of fifteen focused minutes is something I borrowed from The Perfect Day Formula by Craig Ballantyne and is the the first item on my philosophy in life. The concept is easy. I, simply, take fifteen minutes and spend it working on my number one priority once per day.

I think the the number fifteen is magical because of its low barrier to entry. Everyone has fifteen minutes somewhere in their day. Think about it. I would be willing to bet there are multiple fifteen minute spans you use Facebook throughout the day. I know my life is full of them. All you have to do is re-purpose one of those time slots for something worthwhile.

Why fifteen focused minutes?

In short, I can commit to fifteen minutes.

My big goals have always just sat stagnate because I would say “I will work on XYZ when I have time!” Well, guess what…. I never had time.

However, no matter how crazy my day or what I have going on, I can commit to fifteen minutes and fifteen focused minutes does a hell of a lot more to move my goals forward than a random amount of time every now and again.

What have the benefits been for me?

  1. I have been able to get more writing on the page than ever before. I realize fifteen minutes is not much, but a consistent fifteen minutes is way better than the random thirty or sixty minutes I was spending on my number one priority.
  2. I win the morning. Don’t get me wrong, fifteen minutes is hardly going to make me a millionaire, but I get a sense of accomplishment when I finish my fifteen focused minutes. I have won my day no matter what happens the rest of the day.
  3. Fifteen minutes is a gateway drug. I can tell already that fifteen minutes is going to become twenty minutes, then forty-five minutes, then sixty minutes, and eventually a couple of hours.
  4. Peace. My fifteen minutes is me and whatever the fuck I am working on. No phone, email, news, or anything else. Just me, my work, and quiet.
  5. Focus. For most of the day I am driven by emails, texts, instant messages, and calls. Almost everything I do is multi-tasked and input is coming from all around me. For fifteen minutes every morning, I am teaching myself how to focus on one fucking thing with no outside input. Just me and an empty work zone. I, sometimes, amaze myself at the amount of shit I can get done in fifteen minutes simply due to the lack of distractions.

What are some tips for implementing fifteen focused minutes?

  • Have a plan. I have failed miserably at this step, but I believe it is the most important factor to having a successful fifteen focused minutes. In my mind, the ideal way to handle planning would be to write down my plan the night before. I haven’t been able to be that disciplined. However, what I can do is force myself to spend time once a week planning out the direction I want to go. Then, just move linearly through that list of “work.” Regardless, Knowing my goal for the fifteen minutes is over half the battle. Otherwise, I flounder around and don’t get nearly what I should accomplished.
  • Establish a routine. Below are two plans: the plan I follow (number one) and the plan that, I think, would serve me better (number two). I think plan number two is a better option because it takes two of my biggest hurdles, my cell phone and finding a distraction free zone, and makes them consistent every day. I just haven’t been able to get my surroundings setup well enough to make plan two happen.
    1. My Fifteen Focused Minutes Plan
      • Turn off email notifications on my phone, so that I am not tempted.
      • Get a cup of water to drink while I work. I am thirsty first thing in the morning, so I eliminate the distraction of wanting to get a cup of water during my fifteen minutes.
      • Find a distraction free zone in my house to work. Currently, I find this on the fly every morning. I have no set work zone.
      • Boot up my computer and open two programs:  My list of “work” and a browser window with WordPress.
      • Set a fifteen minute timer on my phone and set the phone behind my computer.
      • Work until the timer goes off.
      • Make coffee.
    2. My Smarter Fifteen Focused Minutes Plan
      • Leave my phone on my bedside table to avoid any possible distractions.
      • Get my cup of water. The goal here is to eliminate any need to leave your work zone during the fifteen minutes.
      • Have my computer already setup in a distraction free zone with everyone in my household knowing that it is my distraction free zone.
      • Use something like Freedom or StayFocusd for Chrome to block the option of popping up websites other than my WordPress site. The goal here would be to completely take away the option and not rely on my willpower.
        • Better Yet: Have my “work” not be technology based and write using a pen and paper.
      • Use a timer on my laptop instead of my phone.
        • Better Yet: Use an old school kitchen timer.
      • Work until the timer goes off.
      • Make coffee.
  • Ensure your work zone is distraction free. This one is worth repeating because it still gets me at least once a week. Make sure your work zone is out of the normal path of people. Inevitably someone is going to get up earlier than normal and walk through the house. Do not be in that path. It completely screws up the fifteen minutes. For some reason, I can’t seem to follow this advice, so please learn from my mistake.
  • Be consistent. Stick to this shit even on weekends and when travelling. I recently skipped three full days while on a trip and getting back into the swing of things has been a pain in the ass. My mind now has that “Just stay in bed” mentality. Don’t get me wrong keeping with my schedule would have been tough during the trip, but I wish I would have made some sort of effort. My gut feeling is that the work might not have been good, but the ritual of actually sitting down and doing the work is what is important.

Before I close out, I want to make it clear that you do not have to “work” during your fifteen focused minutes. Your number one priority does not have to be work. It could simply be reading a book, meditation, or some other mind clearing activity. Hell, it could even be planning an upcoming trip. The activity doesn’t matter. Just make sure the activity is important to you.

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