“Hey, kids! Time to pick up your rooms!” I holler up the stairs. Predictably, the request is met with groans and complaints.
It’s Friday, and on the heels of a busy week, especially a night with no homework or other school responsibilities, I’m sure cleaning bedrooms is the last thing they want to do. But there’s one caveat.
“I’m setting the timer for 20 minutes. Pick up as much as you can in that time and we’ll be done for the day.”
The whining dies down as they scurry to work, eagerly anticipating the rhythmic beeping that signals their freedom, because one can do pretty much anything for just 20 minutes.
With 5 children and a puppy, our house is in a fairly constant state of disarray, and I can tolerate it most of the time. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be an all or nothing kinda gal. When the disaster is extreme, I get overwhelmed, and, not even knowing where to start, completely shut down and do nothing. Other times, as if some invisible threshold has been crossed, I snap into full-blown type A mode and demand order like a 5-star general before we move onto anything else.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve crawled around on their bedroom floors, literally digging my way through a dumpster’s worth of toys, clothes and garbage. Sometimes it’s so bad we need an entire morning to unearth the carpet. I don’t like the feelings of frustration, discouragement, and overwhelm that accompany those situations, and although I’m far from an organized or disciplined person, I knew there had to be a better way.
Because doing what you can when you can has to add up to something, right?
Not only are 20 minute segments more manageable than carving out half a day somewhere in a busy schedule, but they can yield dramatic results over time. If you spend 20 minutes a day picking up a bedroom, for example, it will average out to 7,300 minutes in a year. That’s roughly 122 hours spent cleaning, which makes for one tidy room! A consistently tidy room at that, because actions repeated over a period of time become habit. Think about it…
Twenty minutes a day picking up the main floor before bedtime.
Twenty minutes a day in the Bible with a cup of coffee.
Twenty minutes after dinner cleaning up the kitchen.
Twenty minutes after school talking about their day.
Twenty minutes on the exercise mat during nap time.
Twenty minutes in a mommy time-out to deter angry words.
Twenty minutes around the dinner table sharing life.
Twenty minutes spent reading aloud as a family.
Twenty minutes alone with my husband in bed before we fall asleep.
Twenty minutes of writing while the baby is sleeping.
As a writer, the last one is key for me. For so long, I felt like I didn’t have time to write. But the one thing that distinguishes writers from everyone else? It’s not their idea, their grammar, or even their brilliant message. It’s the fact that THEY WRITE. They make time to put words on paper, every day, because it’s important. And important things are worth our time, even if it’s only 20 minutes a day.
The only way to become a better writer is to write. If you can scratch down 300 words a day, which is about 3 good paragraphs and all Anne Lamott insists you need to write at minimum, it equals 109,500 words in a year. Do you know how many words the average book contains?
So there you go, my friend. The cumulative effect of 20 minutes a day can change your life because it all adds up to something bigger than yourself—perhaps bigger than you could’ve ever hoped or dreamed—if you just put in the time.
So ask yourself, are you worth the investment of 20 minutes today? The answer is an unequivocal YES.
Twenty minutes of something that gives you life and breathes purpose into your soul, something that inspires and encourages you. Twenty minutes that bring you one step closer to the goals and dreams you have for yourself, your kids, and your family.
If destiny is the accumulation of 20 minute intervals, how will you spend yours today? Go set the timer and don’t look back.
Jacqui is married to her high school sweetheart and spends most of her days managing chaos as a stay-at-home mother of five. They live in Cleveland and have a thriving ministry around their kitchen table with the youth and homeless in the neighborhood. When she’s not drowning in piles of laundry or dirty dishes, Jacqui writes about meeting God in the mundane moments of everyday life.