The Ten-Minute Tactic that Works!

The Ten-Minute Tactic that Works!

Are you a working woman?Β 

Are you a Stay-at-home mom?Β 

Are you constantly snowed under commitments related to work,Β 
housework, parenting, chores, cooking, cleaning and more?

Β Are you a robot?
Have I got your attention yet? Ok, then I can do away with the bold font and the italics πŸ˜‰

I belong to a unique breed of mothers. I am the Stay-at-home-mom-who-holds-a-flexi-job-and-works-from-home-sometimes. Oh and I blog too. Across three blogs. And run two active Facebook groups. YES, I said that. It’s a real thing!

So, it stands to reason that I am always busy and unable to take calls, respond to text messages or acknowledge the flood of jokes that are delivered to me via whatsapp. I ought to be strung up from the nearest tree.

I have always been a bit of an organiser. Blame it on numerology. Apparently, those born under the number 6 are designed that way. Without actually getting onto the sticky wicket of whether or not numerology works, let’s just say, I love to organise.Β 

Which is why it came as a rude shock to me a few months ago to discover that I had no idea where I had put away my favourite yellow top. I also could not find my list of blogging ideas that I had meticulously written down in a notebook that was lying unused in my daughter’s desk. I positively cried when I realised that a personalised, author-signed copy of an anthology was missing!

That’s when it hit me. I had fallen into this littered wasteland of dis-organisation and it hurt. Mostly, my ego took the largest bruising, I must admit. So, instead of weeping buckets (which I did anyway), I rolled up my sleeves and decided to tackle this in the best way possible with the strongest tool at my disposal.


I am a time freak. I need to be everywhere on time. Sometimes, before time. Which looks positively weird, especially if it is at a birthday party and I am sitting there in the party hall, before the hosts have arrived.

I was reading my copy of The Happiness Project and realised that getting organised with all our commitments was not difficult, but just needed some dedicated discipline. So, Β I adopted the ten-minute tactic.

Assume you have a task, say, putting the washed vessels away into the shelves. If you really think about it, it takes only ten minutes. But, it is so boring! So, what did I do? I found a song that I loved, which was all of ten minutes and 23 seconds long, played it in the background and set about completing the task before the song ended. And it was done! With two minutes to spare!

The same goes for any of the routine tasks. Making a bed, folding the laundry, writing down to-do lists, they all take only ten minutes. What happens is we multi-task and that doesn’t get ANY task done.

So, once I understood this, I did the following:

  1. I got myself a Diary where I could write everything down. (Insert joke about ‘diary of doting mom’ here)
  2. I write down my list each Sunday, planning for the week ahead.
  3. Β I make a list of things to do everyday.
  4. Β IΒ take them in chunks of three and space them out over the whole day.Β 
  5. I set my timer for ten minutes, complete one task and head over to the next.

It would be wrong to say that my life is completely back on track. I still cannot find that yellow top or that blogging ideas notebook. But, I DID find the author-signed copy when I cleaned out that one shelf last Wednesday! Yay! So, you know that this works!


What about you?Β 

Do you have an organising tip?Β 

Does a Diary help you too?

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0 thoughts on “The Ten-Minute Tactic that Works!

  1. I appreciate your blog post, Shailaja and can sure relate to that scattered, disorganized feeling. Often I start projects and then leave them to go do something else. It results in a chaotic mess both physically and in my head. I'm trying to get better about actually finishing things for that feeling of accomplishment and achieving my goals. I still need help though. I like that ten minute idea. Must try that.

  2. Glad that you found the signed copy of the book! And I so agree about those boring but necessary tasks like putting away the washed utensils, folding laundry etc πŸ™‚ Sometimes I find even answering the door bell tedious when I am in a certain state of flow of reading, writing, sleeping, doing nothing. And no, I never ever acknowledge those jokes on what'sapp. Nor do I ever send those to anyone πŸ™‚ But you know the biggest thing is – I still am not organized and I still am unable to do things I must do in my day. Maybe I should try numerology πŸ˜‰ O well….thanks Shailaja for the ten minute timer tip. I must try that one!

  3. You are the last person I would give organizing tips too, but you might enjoy checking out the Flylady website as well in this context. Didn't I tell you I'm a fount of endless ideas ;). It's the implementation where I slip up :P. She has a 15-minute timer concept for clearing up things, and lots of interesting terms thrown around as well. I LOVE the idea of listening to a song during that time though, will definitely try that out when I err actually get around to doing something :).

  4. Uff, I am so disorganised when it comes to chores that I dislike like cleaning, dusting, folding clothes etc. But with things I like I am more organised. Let me try your 10 minute trip.

  5. Being me, I am not very organized on a whole. Granted I tend to know where stuff is amid my creative clutter, but I am no neat nick by any stretch of the imagination. With that said, I think you have taken excellent steps to get your organizational mojo back.

  6. Lord Shailaja you said it. I could do with ANY tip. I often find myself looking around for stuff that I think I've put away safely. So safely sometimes, that I never find it at all till the time I stop needing it. Will try the 10 minute thing for sure. And music works big time for me. I even do a step or two while cooking!

  7. Sometimes I think I am over organized yet I find ways to be even more organized! My secret is what my father taught me and I think of it every single time I want to put something off or not complete the task at hand. It is: Do It Right — Do It Now

  8. 'A little bit of an organiser' ? Shailaja – I demand that the word organised be banished from the dictionary and instead it be re-christened – Shailaja πŸ™‚ That's how organised you are. And to be honest, they are helpful tips. Sadly for me, I find peace in chaos – go figure !

  9. My organizing tips would be: (1) write down a list of what needs to be done and prioritize and (2) if you are a female, you can most likely (better) multi-task items and (3) don't leave your library books under things or else they become overdue (as happened with me…$5 worth!) πŸ˜‰ I like your idea of setting a timer for 10 minutes though and like you, I sometimes play music and/or sing while doing dishes for example. Certainly makes it less tedious. πŸ˜‰ <3

  10. I am a fairly organised person and if I do not get hold of a thing I do not fret or fume but allow things to settle down. and later I manage to to get hold of the missing item minus the irritation and tension. but this took time to practice.

  11. I can actually relate to that too. Which is why this diary idea is such a blessing. I look forward to sitting down everyday and organising my thoughts around the day's work. Such a pleasure πŸ™‚ Hope this helps you too, Cat πŸ™‚

  12. That is SOOO true! Things I like, I make time for them. Chores, never mind. Hmm, you just gave me another idea. Maybe we should blend a chore with a thing that we like, you know, music and a chore pairing πŸ™‚

  13. I was just wondering what if you lose/misplace the diary where you jot down the things to do as you did with the autographed anthology or yellow top.Life is not to run like a well oiled machine.Some hiccups add to its thrill.But I loved the idea of background music though without a timer!!
    An enjoyable post.

  14. Oh wow Shailaja you are ever so organised. The only list I carry is to the supermarket other than that I pretty much go with the flow. Music however always inspires. I like to sing when I'm at home doing the chores.

  15. Well, I'm not a mum but given my busy social life, study and work, I NEED a diary. I'd be lost without it. I have an organiser for all appointments and reminders and also add some social ones to my phone {Thank you Google Calendar!} I have a separate to-do list for things at work and home and cross them off as I go. And in spite of all that, there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything!

  16. Liked your organizing tips, Shailaja. Especially the music timer! πŸ™‚ I am not much organized, though I keep a To-Do lit. That's one thing I do every morning, write on the To Do list, and drinking tea. πŸ™‚ I so need to get a diary and start getting organized. Keeping up with you guys is going to be impossible otherwise. πŸ˜‰

  17. Thank you for the lovely comment, Vinitha. Yes, having a diary really helps. It also cuts down on the amount of time you spend staring at a screen and that, we agree, can be such a boon!

  18. I have the organizer bug too, Shailaja! πŸ™‚ But strangely I find everything. I have laser eyes inside my head I think! πŸ™‚ I've let lists run my life for years and they're my bestest friends, next to my pressure cooker.

    I do hope you find that yellow top soon! πŸ™‚

    As Aparna said the Flylady website is fabulous. The trick is to actually follow all that! I remember being subscribed to it for years and sending all the good stuff directly into a folder for a “later” that never came. πŸ™‚

    And by the way, if I am looking for something and cant find it, I go nuts


  19. Aaaaah! More lists! I'm already OCD when it comes to writing “to do” lists and then writing to do lists that tell me to update to do lists. If I have to handle any more lists, I'll have to have a separate diary where I plan the creation of those lists. I…I have issues.

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