The one challenge I hear most from my clients is that they don’t have enough time in their day. However, they typically take an “all or nothing” approach to getting things done. This is unrealistic, because most of us don’t have large chunks of time available to knock out big projects in one fell swoop. A more realistic approach is to chip away at large tasks in the small bits of time we do have available (see my prior blog posting on this topic). In order to do that, we have to break projects down into smaller components first. Then, when a small segment of time appears (such as when we’re waiting for the proverbial pot of water to boil) we can tackle one small task.

Like many of you, I’m often challenged by a nonstop schedule. However, when I put my mind to it, I’m amazed at how much I can get accomplished in even just 15 minutes. Two key concepts help me capitalize on these 15 minute time oases. The first is setting a timer: I set it for 15 minutes and challenge myself to be as focused as I can to get as much done as possible before the timer goes off. The second is keeping a list of quick tasks so that when a small chunk of time does become available, I can refer to the list and get something purposeful accomplished.

For example, I used to struggle with finding time to write my blog or my monthly newsletter until I adopted the strategy of taking advantage of small chunks of time. I might spend the first five-minute chunk determining what topic to write about and coming up with the title. Then I chip away at each step: writing each sentence, editing, finding an appropriate photograph, spell checking, etc. until before I know it the article is ready to go.

You can apply the same technique to your organizing projects. You may not have a block of the several hours it will take to organize a particular room, but if you spend 15 minutes a day on it, over a period of time the room will be organized. And that’s certainly a better outcome than not even starting because you don’t have one block of multiple hours available.

Here are some ideas of what you might be able to accomplish in 15 minutes:

Laundry: Empty the dryer, fold all items and put them in baskets according to their owner; sort dirty clothes and put a load into the washer; put away a laundry basket of clothes.

Mail: Go through the day’s mail and decide on the next action you need to take on each item.

Planning: Schedule your day, week, or vacation.

Energizing: Take a walk around the block; do some yoga or stretching; lift some weights; meditate; go to bed earlier than normal.

Reading: I never seem to make time for this, so I’ve started setting aside 15 minutes at the end of my day to read a chapter of a book, a magazine article, or scan a few pages of the newspaper.

Writing: Send off a long neglected thank you note; prepare the week’s grocery list; send a quick note to let someone know you’re thinking of them.

Calling: Make that phone call you’ve been avoiding.

Connecting: Spend time with a child, family member or friend.

De-cluttering: Clean off a kitchen counter or table (or a portion of it); clean out a drawer; clean off a bookshelf; clean out your purse, wallet or briefcase.

There are plenty of other things you can do in 15 minutes. Go ahead, set the timer, and let me know what you’ve discovered you can accomplish.

Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom.

Author's Bio: 

Internationally known professional organizer, author, and speaker Sue Becker is the founder and owner of From Piles to Smiles®. She enjoys helping people from around the world live better lives by creating customized systems to overcome their overwhelming paperwork, clutter, and schedules. She specializes in helping people who are chronically disorganized - those for whom disorganization has been a lifelong struggle that negatively impacts every aspect of their life, especially people with AD/HD. Her hands-on help, as well as her presentations, have helped thousands of individuals create substantial change in their lives.

Sue is Illinois’ first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization. She co-authored the book Conversations on Success, and has appeared as an organizational expert on NBC News and the national TV show, Starting Over. A CPA, Sue has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.