Fifteen minutes can go a long way.
I’ve already done a post on 15 Extremely Useful Things You Can Do in 15 Minutes, so this is a sequel. I was inspired to write this sequel after reading an article by leadership coach Jason Womack in which he argues that should break up your day into 96 different 15-minute blocks.
Womack explains that a while ago he had a meeting with a client. When he arrived at the client’s office he was told by their assistant that the client was running 15 minutes late. At this point, Womack decided to try an experiment. He did the following:
- He pulled out his Smartphone, his notebook, and his iPad.
- Then, he tried to see how many tasks he could get done during the 15 minute wait.
- Much to his surprise, in those 15 minutes he managed to cross nine items off of his to-do list.
This experiment led him to realize the value of 15 minutes. Here’s what Womack recommends that you do:
“Take out a piece of paper and up on top write down “If I had 15 minutes I would…” and then fill it up. Give yourself five or ten or fifteen things. When you’re suddenly surprised with an open block of time, the last thing you wanna have to do is think about what you have to do.”
Below you’ll find 14 extremely useful things you can do in 15 minutes or less for your list of things to do when you find an extra 15 minutes here and there.
1. Rejuvenate With the 5 Tibetan Rights. The 5 Tibetan Rights consist of a series of five yoga based movements–each one done 21 times–which are credited with slowing down aging, reducing stress, increasing your strength and flexibility, and many other benefits. The movements are as follows:
- Clockwise Spin
- Leg Raise
- Kneeling Backbend
- Table Top
2. Spend 15 Minutes Outside. I’ve already written about the many benefits of spending time in nature. In her book, “365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids“, Rebecca Cohen explains that spending 15 minutes outside each day keeps families healthy and connected. Cohen writes the following:
“One in three children is obese. The average child spends more than thirty hours in front of television and electronics a week and gets only four to seven minutes a day of unstructured playtime outside . . . Research shows that spending more time outside improves children’s concentration in school, lessens aggression, and improves their ability to cooperate.”
Here are three of the ideas Rebecca recommends:
- Go outside with your kids and spend 15 minutes planning your garden.
- Go outside and study the night sky.
- Take a pair of binoculars with you and look for birds.
Here’s a list of 50 outdoor activities for families. The next time you have an extra 15 minutes, grab your kids and go outside.
3. Meditate. Meditating is easier than you think. Although most people equate meditation with sitting cross-legged on a mountaintop for hours on end, all you need is a comfortable chair, a quiet space, and a few minutes.
Here’s an easy ten minute guided meditation you can follow along with in order to get started:
4. Try the Scientific Seven Minute Workout. Can you really get a good workout in just seven minutes? According to the New York Times, yes, you can. The Seven Minute Workout is backed by research, and it consists of 12 exercises performed in rapid succession.
Going through all 12 exercises takes only 7 minutes, and all you need is your own body weight and a chair. Follow along with the video below (I tried it; it’s hard, but doable):
5. Make a Smoothie. A vitamin-packed smoothie is a great pick-me-up, and it only takes a few minutes to make one. Add two cups of liquid to your blender–you can use milk, fruit juice, coconut water, and so on.
Then, add about three quarters of a mug of your chosen fruit. You can try banana and berries or mango. If you like sweet smoothies, add a squeeze of honey or agave syrup. Finally, add a few ice cubes and blend away.
- It’s a low impact workout that trims fat and tones your entire body.
- It helps your body to detox.
- It improves your balance and spatial awareness.
- It’s great for the skeletal system.
Here’s a 15 minute rebounding workout you can follow along with:
7. Write for 15 Minutes. Poet and creative writing professor Katherine Black once said the following: “Write without editing in your journal for 15 minutes every day. It will change your life.” Just write whatever comes to mind–think stream of consciousness–for 15 minutes without stopping. This will do all of the following for you:
- It will help you to find your voice.
- It will lessen your fear of the blank page.
- It will reveal things about yourself that you weren’t aware of.
- It will get you into the habit of writing.
- It allows you to tap into your subconscious.
All you need is a pen, a notebook, and 15 minutes.
8. Clean Your House. The blog lifehacker.com recommends that you automate your housecleaning by dividing your chores into tasks that take 10 minutes each to complete. Then, slip in one of the 10 minute cleaning chores whenever you have some idle time.
9. Read a Book for 15 Minutes. Here are some scary statistics:
- Only 14 percent of adults with a grade-school education read literature in 2002.
- 51 percent of the American population never reads a book more than 400 pages long after they complete their formal education.
- The average American watches 32 hours of TV every week.
Now, here’s the good news:
- If you read five books on one subject, you’ll be one of the world’s foremost authorities on that subject.
- If you read for 15 minutes, every day, you can read 20 books in a year.
In addition, as I wrote in my post, “9 Things That Are Making You Dumber“, reading a book teaches you to focus your attention. Also, the control and mental discipline that is acquired by reading a long sequence of pages is necessary for richness of thought. So, the next time you have fifteen minutes to spare, pick up a book.
10. Cook a Healthy Meal. There are plenty of healthy recipes online which you can make in just 15 minutes. If you love to cook, save the dishes that take hours of preparation to make for the weekends. On week nights, cook a healthy meal in just 15 minutes.
11. Kick Off Your Shoes and Try Earthing. Earthing, or Grounding, consists of walking barefoot outside, or sitting on the ground. Its proponents argue that in modern city life we no longer have direct physical contact with the Earth, which means that we’re losing out on the health benefits of exchanging electrons with the surface of our planet.
Your body absorbs these electrons when you make physical contact with the ground. Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a highly respected cardiologist, says the following:
“Without a regular connection to the Earth, people can develop what I call an electron deficiency. In turn, this can lead to imbalances in the body and potentially to significant health problems. For example, chronic inflammation—which is increasingly being identified as the cause of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disorders—may be a result of a lack of connectedness.”
And the best part is, all you have to do is go outside and take off your shoes.
12. Have Some Fun. In my post, “25 Ways to Have Fun at Work“, I explain that research shows that having fun at work makes people more productive and creative. Keep some toys in your office and when you have an extra fifteen minutes, play with them.
13. Walk Down the Hall. New research shows that getting up from your desk every half an hour and walking for five minutes is even more important than going to the gym for 30 minutes a day. Limit your sitting time. When you have a few minutes to spare here and there, walk around.
14. Do Some Breathing Exercises. Dr. Andrew Weil is a Harvard-trained doctor and an author on holistic health. He argues that most people don’t know how to take full advantage of the nourishing, health-giving properties of the act of breathing. According to Dr. Weil, here are some of the many benefits of breathing correctly:
- Lower your blood pressure.
- Calm a racing heart.
- Help your digestive system.
- Center your emotions.
Here are three breathing exercises which Dr. Weil recommends.
Follow Womack’s advice: be prepared with a list of things that you can do in 15 minutes or less so that you can be ready when some spare or idle time presents itself. You can get started by using the 14 ideas above on extremely useful things you can do in 15 minutes or less.
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