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Ten Minutes to Change Your Life

My son recently had an accident that damaged his car. No body was hurt, thank goodness. I’ve been driving him to school, which I secretly love. I soon realized that he couldn’t have been getting there on time when he was driving, given the time he’d been leaving the house.

Shortly after that realization, the letter from the school came that alerted us to the 25 times he was late and the requirement that he do two detentions a week for the remainder of the year. Lovely.

Ten Minutes to Change Your LifeThat said, I also have had a chronic lateness issue, which is currently being overhauled. I really don’t want him to be like me on this one. So, I’ve been trying to impress upon him the importance of being on time. I got him to leave with me ten minutes earlier last week for one of our morning drives and it gave me a chance to point out the difference it made.

Surprisingly, it made all the difference in the world, and it was only ten minutes! How hard is it really to find ten minutes? The drive was so pleasant, completely stress free with the ten minute buffer. It changed the course of the day. It occurred to me that if you add ten minutes of ___________ into your life, it can transform your life. You fill in your blank.

Ten minutes of meditation has been researched and proven effective for improving the mind, body and spirit in numerous ways.

Ten minutes of journaling can release your worries on to paper and out of your head, or facilitate dreaming and creative thinking. Writing down goals also has been proven to make a difference in whether you achieve your goals.

Ten minutes of a morning huddle with staff will avoid communication snafus throughout the day that can be aggravating and potentially result in revenue loss.

Ten minutes of exercise throughout the day several times can keep you healthier and more energized.

Ten minutes of prepping your calendar keeps you organized and directed.

Ten minutes of reviewing your calendar at end of day allows you to note your accomplishments and prepare for the next day.

Ten minutes of checking email (set your timer) keeps you from getting bogged down in it later, so you don’t get carried away and lose half a day to email when you should be doing something else.

Ten minutes of filing is a very satisfying way to keep paper moving off your desk without using too much time on this never-ending chore.

Ten minutes of bill paying regularly, so bills are paid on time, as well as checking bank accounts online so there are no surprises, can save you time and money.

Ten minutes of meal planning can also save much time and money and keep you looking and feeling like a person who’s got it together.

Ten minutes of housekeeping actually serves as a decent break from work if you work at home, and keeps the house from getting out of control.

What is striking here is that the investment of time is so small, yet that minimal change can undo an ancient habitual pattern, easily. Often, it means not doing something else for ten minutes. It’s not that you are adding ten minutes to your day, but that you are shifting what you do in ten minute increments.

I’m not late because I’m lazy, but if I have a little window (sometimes a tiny window), I will try to fit something else into the gap, another task, and it never works. If I think I have five minutes, then I will try to cram in another email and that (my action) will make me late.

Here’s the way it goes. I consciously want to be on time. Then, something in my unconscious mind says, “no, you should fit something else into the few minutes you have and that will add to your productivity,” or “wouldn’t it be great to get this off the to-do list? We have a minute.” That makes me late.

If all you do is pay attention to what you are doing to see how the pattern shows up, you will see clearly what action of yours gets in your way. You have to become very aware and very honest with yourself. The only way to get aware is to pay attention to what you are doing. The only way to get honest is to stop rationalizing and making up excuses, or denying it altogether.

I will still defend my ability to be on time even though I’m rarely on time. It becomes a silly argument, but nonetheless… As David Neagle explains, the desire to be right can get in the way of being successful. Get out of denial. Let it go.

I’ve become aware that I need to stop ten minutes before I need to leave and pay attention to what I’m going to do next and decide not to do what’s entering my mind. I have to consciously override my inclination to do another task and leave before I normally would.

Changing the behavior that precedes, and actually causes the undesirable behavior, is the key. The trick is to properly identify that behavior, so you can make the adjustment.

Now, lateness is my issue. What can you do for ten minutes that will transform your life? What behavior do you perpetuate that you don’t like? Notice what precedes that behavior? What can you do to stop, not the behavior that you don’t like (the one you beat yourself up about), but the one that is the real culprit? The behavior that causes the one that you are unhappy about.