The 365 Commitment

Day 230 – 15 Minutes Adds Up

Since today is Memorial Day, I started organizing a box of family heirlooms. What started as a good intent to archive some content from family members has become several boxes of “keepsake” clutter. In these boxes are treasured items from many relatives, including several who were in WWII and WWI.

Remembering Heroes Through Clutter

It seems appropriate that I would force myself to organize these items on a day like today. It is a slow day and digging through this archive has certainly caused me to remember the heroes in our family. However, as I started the archaeology dig, I soon realized that these boxes had become more than a collection of heirlooms.

The Accumulation of Procrastination

It has become a collection of every little thing that I did not want to clean up over the last few years. This has led me to the conclusion that 15 minutes adds up.

The Consequence of Procrastination

This is how it happens. I have a project that I am working on, and I get to some conclusion, and then it becomes time to clean up. The clean-up process would take 15 minutes on average. However, rather than spending that 15 minutes properly cleaning up, I decided to borrow that 15 minutes against my future and throw the items that I should have cleaned up into my scrapbook pile.

The Accumulation of Clutter

Now, two years later, I have accumulated approximately 200 hours of work to clean up this mess. Somewhere at the bottom of these boxes are the photographs of my wife’s father that I wanted to memorialize in some way. My intent to spend an hour or two creating a nice digital creation to remember a relative has now turned into a full day of paying off shortcut debt.

The Overwhelming Debt of Shortcuts

The thing is that the shortcuts of procrastinating the cleaning have led to more than one day of organization effort. I now feel overwhelmed because I need at least 17 days of dedicated effort to resolve this mess. There is no way that I am going to dig myself out of this hole because I can barely afford 1 day, much less 17.

The Path to Redemption: 15 Minutes a Day

So, the only real way out of this predicament is the same way I got here: 15 minutes or so a day until I finally get through the pile.

The Accumulated Debt of Shortcuts

15 Minutes per day is roughly 91 hours per year. I could double it up, spend 30 minutes a day for a full year and then I will have erased all the debt that I have accumulated by taking too many shortcuts.

Recognizing the Pattern

Funny, I look around the house and I find a drawer here and there that is the same issue, just on a smaller scale. Should I put that screwdriver away? Nah, I will throw it into this drawer.

Borrowing Against the Future

Should I find a place to put these leftover birthday candles or those small rubber stoppers that I forgot to stick on the bottom of that piece of furniture we bought? Nah, throw it in the drawer. Borrowing against the future. One day you will clean up this drawer, and it will take you several hours because you have borrowed 1 – 2 minutes every day for years.

The Positive Application of 15 Minutes

This works in reverse as well. You could take the same principle and apply it in a positive sense.

Building Skills with Consistency

Do you want to learn a foreign language? 15 minutes a day, every day for a year, and you will have 91 hours of practice. Need to learn a new concept or gain a new skill? You could make a serious dent in any ambition by doing it every day consistently for an extended period of time. 15 minutes could add up to a great benefit for you as well.

The Example of the Perfect Lawn

There is a man in my neighborhood who has the nicest front lawn in all of California, and I do not believe that I am exaggerating. It is not because he has expensive things on the lawn; it is because everything is meticulously groomed.

Every branch is cut to a specified length; every creeper has a line of string to grow along. Every blade of grass is considered carefully, measured, and aligned with the others. He has lived by me long enough to where I now know his schedule. Every morning, at roughly the same time, he is out there tending the garden. From about 10 am to 10:15 am every day. 15 minutes.

Now he has a gardener that does the main work, such as trimming the edge of the planters and mowing the grass, but the point is that every day he is doing those little things that add up.

The Choice and Impact of 15 Minutes

So, as you go through your day, you have a consideration to ponder. That spare 15 minutes? It can work for you or against you. You can choose to use that 15 minutes to clean up and organize your previous project, use it to focus on something important to you, or you can use it to delay and procrastinate the inevitable. No matter what you choose, this time will accumulate. It adds up, either for or against you. Having said this, it is heading back to the attic for me to continue sorting through the junk boxes, ahem, family history archive.

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