Imagine how much we can accomplish in just fifteen minutes a day...

Years ago I read Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis by Joan Bolker, Ed.D.  I was beginning a Master’s Thesis in 2003 while working full-time.  I struggled for years to bring my thesis to the forefront of my life, but life’s happenings usually beat me.  As my life perspective has changed and continues to change, and as I come to finally seeing my thesis as a final product, I’ve come to the realization on my own how “fifteen minutes a day” really works.

Making time to write is like making time for my new morning meditation ritual.  For weeks and even months I thought about wanting to meditate regularly.  Each day I would put it off until later until the day got away and I would never realize that moment of reflection.  Once I realized that the only feasible time to meditate was when I was the only one stirring in the house, I began waking up earlier.  I consciously carved a time out in my day to meditate.  And each time I meditate, I reinforce how powerful the act is, making me more and more committed to seeing through the next morning’s meditation.  Meditating in the wee early morning while the house is still silent has replaced my caffeine intake.  I have cut coffee and black tea completely and drink green tea as a treat.  I now look to meditation to get my brain going in the morning so that I am alert to the subtleties in the data I’m studying.  I feel prepared to deal with the challenges of the day and to recognize each moment, and challenge, as precious.  There is a level of commitment to this act, and even reliance on it. 

Writing “fifteen minutes a day” has taken on a similar role.  There are days where I literally only get fifteen minutes to write.  After getting ready in the morning, the short meditation of 8-12 minutes, making my tea and writing in my production journal, I may be working for only 15 minutes when my son has unexpectedly started his day before 7:30 a.m.  The teaser sample makes me want more.  I can’t wait, I look forward to, I rely on being able to write again.  But when I’m not writing, I don’t need to think about how I’m not getting anything done (though I do have those moments, they are not pervasive), because I trust that all the other moments of joy will only help me the next day when I write again. 

It is the simple act of carving out 15 minutes of my time daily to something I love that makes the 15 minutes so potent.  Making the time, the act itself, is how 15 minutes really works.  It’s like growing a plant.  When you give yourself to those things you love, they grow.  And the relationship is circular.  When I give time to my writing, I am giving time to myself, and we grow together.  If my goal is growth, how could I stop protecting this ritual that gives me fifteen minutes to two hours a day if I’m so lucky?  The real progress that is happening, even when one writing session is only filled with thinking, is too powerful to ignore.  Yet with the other elements that make up my life, this level of committment can be fragile.  And this is another way that “fifteen minutes a day” works.  “Fifteen minutes a day,” that’s all it takes to show your love, and it will grow all on its own.

I’d like to know: What makes you committed to your passion?  What are your daily rituals that help you stay connected to the different elements in your life? 

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