The Half Hour Rule

clock-face-half-past-hourI’m having personal coaching at the moment and on Wednesday, my coach made a suggestion which has completely changed my way of thinking. In short, it’s revolutionised my life! What is this amazing nugget, I hear you clamouring to know.  Well, hold your horses, for just one second or two, there people.  All in good time.

Have you got hot spots in your home (like the cupboard under the stairs, for example) which need to be tidied up, but you look in there, sigh deeply, then close the door quickly? Have you got a desk – like mine – which is full of ‘stuff’ which is overwhelming to such an extent that you’d rather leave it there than deal with it? Are your shelves bowing under the weight on unread books, or clothing (substitute whatever you like on your shelves) but rather than whittle through the books (or clothing or whatever) they’re left because it just seems like too big a job to deal with?

Then I have the perfect solution for you.  The Half Hour Rule.  What? You don’t believe me? Ok, let me explain this for you.

My entire house needs.  Each room has ‘hot spots’ of clutter which need to be sorted out and either put away in a cupboard or recycled – either to a charity shop or the recycling centres. This house is an old house and doesn’t have much built-in storage.  I do have shelves bowing under the weight of read and unread books and earlier this year I actually sent My Other Half to several different charity shops with dozens of bags of books that I was letting go of. 176 cat books.  I was amazed that I had that many, to be honest.  Many of them I had read; some were self-published and should never have been let loose on the world while others were ‘how to’ types, giving advice on looking after your kitten or cat once you’d acquired one.

I got a piece of paper and under the headings – Main Bedroom, Office, Dining Room, Living Room, Kitchen I then wrote a detailed list of what needed to be done in each room.  It was quite daunting, to be honest and I put the list on the dining room table – along with several lists of other things I wanted to do (I like lists) and sort of forgot about it. But then when I saw my coach this week, something he said reminded me of the list and I found it again.

Where does the Half Hour Rule fit in? Easy.  Take one area that you want to deal with – for me, it was a pile of papers on my office floor that needed to be shredded – and then, for 30 minutes only, you deal with it.  I was surprised at how much shredding I managed to achieve in just half an hour before my shredder became too hot and I had to stop to give it time to cool down.  I shredded papers for 20 minutes and with the remaining 10 minutes, I did some ironing.  I filled that 30 minutes with purpose and although I still have more shredding to do, it made a significant dent on what was there to be done.

Today I applied the Half Hour Rule to another task in the house and I was really pleased and happy with the results.  I don’t have to worry about cleaning the entire house in one go (which is hugely daunting and overwhelming) but doing it in bite sized chunks of 30 minutes at a time, means that daily I AM getting something done, and whittling my way through my ‘To Do’ list.  It will still take a few weeks at this rate, but what I don’t feel is guilty.

When I spend a good part of my day in my office, writing, I know there are all these other jobs that need to be sorted out and I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing them.  I wasn’t even trying to do them.  I made excuses that I couldn’t have a decluttered house AND write my books, my newspaper column, my blog, my website and any of the other writing projects that fill my days.  Just spending 30 minutes a day, tackling part of one job, means that I have the rest of the day to do what I prefer to do – in my case, writing – but in your case, it could be anything you want.

This is liberating stuff people.  Feel free to adopt the Half Hour Rule for yourselves and see how much you can achieve in such a small amount of time.  Of course, if you have the time and the energy, the will and the drive, you can work longer than 30 minutes; that’s entirely up to you.  But the Half Hour Rule frees you up once you’ve done something you’ve been leaving, to do something else more pleasant.

Enjoy yourselves.  Have fun.  You’re welcome!

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