The “Just 15 Minutes” Approach to Achieving Your Goals

The “Just 15 Minutes” Approach to Achieving Your Goals

How to make yourself work when you just don’t want to work

When I first start a project, I’m all fired up and ready to go. But writing takes longer than I can sustain my enthusiasm. As the weeks, months, (years) slip by, progress periodically stagnates.

There are many people who only write when they feel their muse talking to them, then the words flow out of them. Full chapters, books come out in states not-so-far from a finished product.

I am not one of those people.

I’ve spoken before about my marathon-style writing. In a world of hares and turtles, I am a turtle. A turtle who’s been known to take breaks and binge on tv, as though the race itself were on pause.

But, eventually, shame and guilt kick in. I’ve been slacking off and disappointing the one person I can’t avoid: myself.

That’s when I tell myself: JUST FIFTEEN MINUTES


If I just sit down at my desk, pull out my manuscript and do something, it’ll count myself as having made some progress, as having not skipped yet-another-day of working on my novel. I could do a great variety of things:

  • write
  • edit
  • read
  • take notes

as long as I do it for at least 15 minutes.

Sometimes, that’s all I do. I inch forward with the tiniest bit of progress, just enough to claim credit.

But you know what?

Most of the time? I get a lot more than just 15 minutes of work done once I actually get my butt into that chair.*

What tricks do you have for getting work out of yourself?

*Note: This technique also works on laundry, dishes, office work, learning to play guitar, playing with small children**, and a variety of other tasks!
**Note 2: That’s a lie, after 15 minute  with small children, I’m ready for a nice, long nap.


  1. All this sounds very familiar to me. . . basically my writing process also. It took me years to complete the first draft of my novel because of my own struggles with sustained enthusiasm; there were so many shiny objects, er. . . hobbies. . . that distracted me along the way.

    As far as tricks to get myself to work? Mandating a little time every day helped, but when I was about a month away from finishing my first draft, I made reservations at a really fancy French restaurant and told myself I could only go if I finished the damned thing. It turns out steak frites was a pretty good motivator.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I set a timer for 20 minutes. After that time, I’m deep into the story and often writer further. The difficulty is sitting down in the first place. There are waaaay too many distractions, and I have to remind myself I AM A WRITER.
    Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 2 people

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s