imagesSome projects look like mountains to climb.  They are overwhelming: Taxes.  Writing the Novel.  Paying Bills.  Hammering out a Business Plan.  Buying Christmas Presents.  Cleaning out the House, the Garage, the Closet.  Reorganizing the Office.  Mailing out Inquiry Letters.

A nap looks like the only solution.

Some of these mountainous projects have deadlines.  They get done—maybe with resistance and complaining, but they get done.

The ones that have no deadline are the hardest to tackle.  They can become invisible in my mind and disappear behind the clouds of other activities.  Then, one day, the out of the haze, the mountainous task takes shape again, and I can’t ignore it any more.

Starting these projects is the hardest part, I find, but breaking it down to bite size actions helps me.  Someone once asked Stephen King how he could write so many books, “One word at a time,” was his quick response.  So, I am learning that when it is an overwhelming project to chunk it way down to edible bits.

I can do almost anything for 15 minutes at a time, so I set a timer and, say, go into my office to tackle the paper tiger snarling on my desk.  After 15 minutes, most times I just keep going, but by setting the timer, I can get myself started.  For me, starting is the hardest part.

That’s my 15 minute solution.  Hope it helps.  There goes the timer.


  1. It helps a lot, Katherine. Thank you for this post, and for the reminder that I can do just about anything (except hold my breath) for 15 minutes. I need to apply this philosophy many times daily.

  2. Hello Katherine! That’s great. I do something similar – I make out a timed schedule in 15 minute increments for all the things I need to do and can’t get myself to do. Somehow when I write it down with a time slot, I actually do it. I agree with your philosophy – pretty much anything is bearable for 15 minutes! Enjoy your summer.

    • Really a good thing to do. I also have a laminated wet erase rectangle that I cut off a calendar and taped onto my lap top. Every day I write down the things I want/need to do. It’s right there reminding me. So satisfying to erase them at night.

    • Great. I love whirling fans….such a soothing feeling and sound to me. Wonderful to see your name and hear from you!

  3. Thank you for this reminder. When I was going to the gym last summer and fall I would tell myself that all I had to do was spend one half hour on the elliptical and then I could leave. Of course once I got there and I had my ice cold water and great music or perhaps a podcast of the Rachel Maddow Show on my ipod I usually stayed for an hour.

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