The 10 Minute Challenge

Written by: April Vargo


I feel like January was a month of sickness.  For three weeks we passed a cold back and forth and the last week, Maizy got it.  This was the first time anyone had been sick in the house since Maizy had been born.  I learned being sick and taking care of a baby is a completely new experience. 

Life still goes on.  There are no sick days, no one to call to sub for you, no just lounging on the couch all day long waiting for the nastiness to pass.  Instead, you’re on call constantly. 

I noticed how much stuff ended up going on the back burner.  I did any task that I had to do or had already been scheduled, but anything else that could wait got pushed off. 

I pride myself on running our house like a well-oiled machine.  Part of my job is taking care of my family and house, and I really enjoy it.  All of a sudden, being sick, I realized how difficult it was to keep everything running smoothly. 

Thank God for my husband, who jumped in to help pick up the pieces.  Whether it be running out to the store for supplies, groceries, picking up or making dinners, and doing laundry it was super nice to have all of his help, much of which I didn’t even have to ask for, he just did it.  It was nice. 

When we were all better, I looked at my to-do-list which seemed huge, since I had let so much pile up.  I learned I have this awesome process when everything is running smoothly, but hadn’t really accounted for when things don’t go according to plan.  Little Miss Maizy definitely taught me flexibility. 

I came up with a system that actually kept me more productive than before, and accounted for teething, sickness, needing snuggles, or anything else that life would throw my way.  The 10 Minute Challenge was born….. 

1.  Plot out all of your musts 

What are your already scheduled engagements?  How do you keep track of them? 

All of mine are in Google Calendar that’s synced to my phone and computer, so I always know what’s going on.  My calendar consists of all of my lessons and coaching sessions, Maizy’s classes, playdates, and family get-togethers. 

This way I see all of the events that are set times where I need to be present for.  I can account for travel time, or time to write follow up emails.  After I know when and where I need to be, I can start filling in the rest of the blanks. 

2.  A daily to-do list 

I make a general to do list every day of things that I would like to get accomplished, that are not time sensitive.  These are items I can do at any time of the day and don’t require a set meeting. 

My tasks fall under the headings 

  • Work 
  • Family 
  • Health 
  • House 
  • Fun 
  • Other 

Some of my daily items are yoga, a cleaning task (I don’t clean my whole house at once anymore), developing new programs, errands, meal plan, and something fun or educational with Maizy. 

Obviously, as other events or activities come up, the daily items change.  I try to think of items that are balanced and keep my life organized and fun!  That’s where my 10 Minute Challenge came from…. 

3.  10 Minutes 

Many times people look at what they need to do and start to say that they don’t have the time, so it gets pushed off.  Well as certain things get pushed off they build and now you’ve got quite a lot more work on your plate than before.  Instead of letting things build up, do a little bit every day. 

I started instituting this in my own personal life.  Getting in shape was one of my goals, but I felt like if I didn’t have at least 30 minutes to work out, I couldn’t do it.  After further thought, there are plenty of videos that are 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and so on and so forth.  I realized that if all I have that day is 5 minutes, that’s a heck of a lot better than no minutes. 

I did the same thing with my other tasks.  Instead of cleaning my whole house all at once, which honestly, is virtually impossible with a little one.  I said I would clean a little bit every day.  So one day I dust, another day I vaccuum, bathrooms are a different day, and kitchen floor the day after.  Every day I pick up and do dishes.  I realized that I never really had to clean anymore because I was always staying on top of everything that the task was rather small, instead of so arduous. 

Now instead of using my little breaks throughout the day to scroll through my newsfeed, I am getting items done off of my to-do-list in 10 minute (maybe a little more, maybe a little less) segments. 

I started using this method in my teaching.  I have students ranging from teens to adults who started telling me that they are having difficulty finding time to practice as their other commitments seem to be taking up their time.  I told them about this method, when you have a moment or two, practice an item or two from our lessons.  As long as the practice is focused and intentional the time doesn’t matter.  They started saying that they have little breaks all throughout the day and never thought to just practice a little bit at a time.  I literally saw the weight lifting off of their chest. 

Using those little moments during the day to get something else done, or even multi-tasking makes life so much easier.  While it doesn't necessarily have to be 10 minutes, it can be any amount of time you have....5, 10, 15 minutes, its intention is to use those small breaks of time to be productive so that you can have fun later.  It’s also kind of fun to see how much you can get done in a relatively short amount of time.  It really helps those items you don't want to do, and seem to drag on a little, but when you say, let me just get it done quickly, the task seems to fly by.  

To help you, I have created a 10 Minute Challenge sheet for both adults and teens to help prioritize your goals and where / how you want to spend your time.  Try this for a week, and let me know how it goes.  Leave your comments on what worked well for you and the awesome strides you made this week!

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