Take Twenty!

Dig into a home organization project for twenty minutes to get a result that you imagine would take an hour.

Set your timer for twenty minutes. Pretend there’s an evaluation at the end, with credit for completion. Determine in advance what qualifies as done.

I did this recently. I organized the tangle of cords connecting my electronic devices to each other and to the electrical outlet in 20 minutes. I qualified as done if I reduced the cord disarray, plugged all the devices back in, and put away all the supplies. I battled perfectionism to move on without getting stuck in the project for an entire morning!

I used five of my twenty minutes for a loosely related distraction and still got great results! Even though I had to go to the garage and to the laundry room to find supplies during the project, I wrapped it up in twenty minutes.

With about six minutes remaining, I made what seemed a significant change. Time was short, so I pushed myself to be ready for the completeness evaluation by quickly taking action on the idea. I moved the modem and router to a different electrical outlet away from my desk area.

I forced myself to stop at the end of twenty minutes. To finish, I had to quickly plug back in a few items on the desk without considering optimal placement. The urgency of the timer isn’t operative when you can extend the time. I wanted to make sure the timer strategy would work next time.

I prefer cords flat against the walls, so I briefly considered going back to the project when I saw them stretching across the room. Then I told myself, “forget about it, the twenty minutes are over. You are done”. As I sat down at my desk, I felt my shoulders relax as I sensed the absence of internet devices on the floor next to me. My project didn’t meet my perfectionistic standards, but the improvement was sufficient to ease my mind. Relief!

Try it! Twenty minutes. Set the exam parameters in advance - how will you define complete?

Most home organization jobs take more time than the one I tackled this morning. Choose a subtask. If you are organizing your garage, choose a small area, and qualify yourself as done in twenty minutes if you put every item into a category. Working with the timer prevents you from agonizing over your decisions.

Keep the energy going! Make decisions and take action quickly. At the same time, be fully present and aware of what you are doing at the moment. When you finish, take a five-minute break before you decide whether to keep organizing or to move on to another part of your day. Consider letting twenty minutes be enough!