The 10 Minute Rule

Posted by Karen Degen on 26th August 2019

Tags: 10-Minute Rule, getting things done, overwhelm, procrastination

This one tip has changed my life and I give it to clients all the time.  It was told to me by someone (we will call her Sally) who was shocked to discover that her sister (a good-natured rival) had achieved something she was still working towards herself.  It was to do with working with their horses, and involved a lot of work with the over many months to pass the equestrian type exam. When Sally questioned her sister as to how she could possibly have achieved this before her, the reply was “The 10 Minute Rule”.

“What the heck is the 10 Minute Rule!!!?” declared Sally, surprised and unbelieving.

Her sister explained that she committed to working for 10 minutes a day on the tasks needed to achieve the goal she was working towards.  “There’s no way that you could have achieved it by going out with the horses for only 10 minutes a day” declared Sally.  “It’s impossible!”

“You are right” replied her sister, “but the thing is, once you are out there and have got all the gear ready and have made a start, chances are you will keep going for longer – and I did”.

It reminded me of the old saying ‘how do you eat an elephant?’  The answer being ‘one bite at a time’.  Most people of course look at the elephant and feel overwhelmed by the size of the job.  They are so overwhelmed that they don’t even start, or they procrastinate and get sidetracked.  I love the elephant analogy and often tell my clients “you need to focus on the toe you are working on and stop looking at the whole elephant”.

I frequently have jobs that make me feel overwhelmed and I used to put these off and find a million other things that ‘needed’ doing first.  Now I just follow the 10 Minute Rule. I make a deal with myself that I only have to take one bite of the elephant. That I only have to focus for 10 minutes on the task.  Sometimes I do more, sometimes I don’t.  What I find, when I don’t put any more pressure on myself than 10 minutes, is that I take another bite later.  One day I took three bites of the elephant, the last bite being only 5 minutes long.  But I’d already taken two 10-minute bites earlier in the day, so that was fine.

On my current big task, I’m nearly there. Just an ear and a trunk to go.  I got there by following the 10 Minute rule and I love it.  Take short, no pressure bites at a task.  Give it a try.