Life hacks: You always have 5 minutes.

NY_Met_demuth_figure_5_goldThis is not one of those types of blogs, the ones that have it together and do things like series, where they post about the same sort of thing every Wednesday or whatever. Sometimes, I think it would be fun to be one of those types of blogs, the polished and shiny kind, but then I remember that this is the first thing that gets back-burnered when I get stressed (long before my line-up of CW shows), and I think – nope, not possible. But, I do have a couple posts on a similar idea that I wanted to drag along through January, so there you have it: Life hacks.

We all have them, those little things that we do to make our lives easier. They span across all different domains, from organization to cleaning to cooking to clothes and fashion. They are our own little tricks for working out this life thing in a better way. And it’s January, the month where we are all supposed to be striving for lofty goals and being better versions of ourselves, and I’m just over here thinking…. Does anyone have any tricks to share? Because I seriously doubt that 2016 is going to be my year of ACCOMPLISHING EVERYTHING, of losing weight (HA), funding retirement, writing a book, and remembering to floss every day. But what if each day could be just a little bit better? Enter life hacks. Over the next couple weeks, I’m going to be sharing mine, the little tricks, the shifts in perspective, that help my life flow better, and I sure would love to hear yours. Feel free to blog them on your own and email me the link (click the Contact tab up top), or just email them if you don’t blog. At the end of the month I would love to pass them on. Or, if none of you do that, I will go back and delete these last two sentences so that I don’t look like a friendless loser for future blog posterity. Thus, without any further ado –

Life Hack #1: You always have 5 minutes.

Let us not even try opening the discussion of who is the busiest of us all. This is one of the stupidest and yet must ubiquitous arguments there is. The busy corporate working woman thinks that the stay-at-home mom must certainly have all the time in the world since she is at home and not balancing meetings. The mother of three spending those days at home cannot possibly imagine anything busier than her lot, and looks down her nose at how the childless cannot fathom real busyness. The doctor imagines how nice it must be to have one of those swank teaching jobs with all the time on your hands, and the teacher dreams of one of those cush desk jobs where your work never follows you home. You all reading this blog might think that that Hannah person sure has lots of time to brunch and blog and cannot possibly imagine what your busy life is like and HOW DARE SHE imply that you have 5 minutes of free time in your day because you ABSOLUTELY DO NOT.

But you do, because you are reading this, and it will probably take you about 5 minutes.

Before you get huffy, before you think that I can’t possibly understand your life, I’ll go ahead and admit it: I don’t. And you don’t understand mine. And we are all living in our own little towers of personal experience that have their own pitfalls, but can we just get over that? This is not a judgment, but rather a statement that might just be true if you try it out, if you look at the little wasted 5 minutes throughout your day when you mindlessly surfed Facebook or zoned out on your phone. I know highly productive, organized, and successful people whose lives all look very different from each other except for one thing: they get things done because they find a way to make time to do them. And that starts with 5 minutes. (And the people who truly do NOT have 5 free minutes, they aren’t wasting time reading blogs, so I don’t have to worry about offending them. Like my mom, who worked, raised kids, and managed a huge chunk of property growing up. She is always wondering when my generation has time to “Facebook each other” and read random articles, and I always explain that we are doing those things while she is busy conquering the world. )

You do not always have 20 minutes, you might not even have 10, but I operate on the system that I can find 5 minutes to do something. If I am stressed and need to get things done, I will set a timer and then race myself to see how much I can do in 5 minutes. No time to clean the whole house? Set that clock and be amazed at what you can get done in 5 minutes. Overwhelmed by emails? I bet you can answer one or delete ten pointless ones in five minutes. No time for those devotions you swore you would do every day? Start with 5 minutes—time to read one short daily devotional or chunk of scripture. This is not a revolutionary concept at all, and on one hand, I debated starting with it as my first life hack. But I think it is fundamental, because it transforms your mind from one that says “I have no time to do ________” into one that just seizes time where it can.

This mindset is especially helpful for random house tasks, as those eat away at us, seem daunting together, and yet can be squeezed in throughout the day. 5 minutes allows you to switch laundry from washer to dryer, wash 3 dishes that sat in the sink all night, put away those 3 dishes later when you get 5 more minutes, make the bed, hang up a coat and toss aside a shoes, or wipe down counters. It does not allow you to do all those things. But by adopting the 5 minute mindset, you take on the world one chunk at a time, refusing to look at the big picture until you have taken enough little bites out of it to make it manageable.

Now then. You just wasted this 5 minute window by reading this, but may your next one be a breath of fresh air, a burst of productivity, and a chance to encourage yourself by tackling one tiny mountain in your day.

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22 Responses to Life hacks: You always have 5 minutes.

  1. I love this. I am always a little surprised at how much I can get done in 5 minutes, or 15, if I really set my mind to it. I also sometimes get a bit judgy when people tell me that they absolutely cannot get anything done because they are so busy and blah blah blah. Um, in the time it took you to justify your busyness you could have unloaded the dishwasher, or wiped off the sink, or wrote a thank-you note or just-because note, or whatever. I think most of us have a lot more time than we think we do. Excellent post.


    • Hannah says:

      It’s so true– just jumping up and doing things is sometimes all it takes…. says the girl who still needs to write Christmas thank you notes… : I

  2. Yes! I’m a big advocate of 5 minute clean-up sprints. It is amazing how productive I feel. On a similar note, I don’t think this is a life hack necessarily, but I advocate taking the empty parking spot in the back of the lot rather than circling, circling, trying to find one close to the door. I guarantee I’m in the store before that person unbuckles their seatbelt. And I got a little walk in besides.

    I look forward to more of your life hacks!

  3. E.H says:

    Ah, so very true! I must admit, I punched in your blog address to do just that: have five minutes all to myself to read your blog post. 🙂 I apply this 5 min concept also to working out, especially if I’m “not in the mood” to exercise. Typically, once I’ve exercised for five minutes, I will continue to exercise for 20. It’s a great trick! I’m excited about these life hacks posts and just might jump on the bandwagon and post some myself. 😀

    • Hannah says:

      So true! Sometimes I think it isn’t worth it to workout for 5 minutes, because that means just a tiny boost…. but it is probably better than sitting on my bum, and usually leads to more.

  4. Anna Kate says:

    So good. ‘Bout to punch in 5 minutes and see what happens.

    • Anna Kate says:

      Ummm, 5 minutes is a LONG TIME. Who knew?! I put two J.Crew online purchases that I’m returning back in their box, took my vitamins, got lunch started (because I had been sitting here STARVING?), and called to cancel a tour for a job I just know I’m not going to commit to. I got so much done the first 5 minutes that I decided to punch in a second. It was still great, got lunch plated (I was just heating up some chili k), but not as fulfilling because I spent most of it searching for a notepad to write a to do list on that I never found. However, not to worry, I’m going to finish lunch in peace, find the notepad, write the to do list, and then do another 5 minutes. Greatest update ever! I’m sure I’ll forget this trick and then a year later you’ll mention it and I’ll get all inspired again, but for now, thanks for this tip. It made a difference in my day. 🙂

  5. Anna says:

    Love this! My personal corollary is: don’t spend an hour doing something that you could do in 12 five-minute blocks. What I mean is, some stuff really does take a long chunk of time but when you have them, like on the weekends, it’s so easy to fritter them away doing tiny tasks when that is your time to dig into something big.

  6. mandikorn says:

    I love your blog, and I can guarantee that you are not going to have to erase any part of this post. I am trying a cleaning hack, working 10 minutes every other day on cleaning my bathrooms (I have 3). I am even handing my daughter my phone timer, so she can let me know when my time is up. It is working so far….I will let you know what happens in about a month:o)

  7. Rach says:

    We just moved. And you’re about to move. And packing seems to take forever. Take 5 minutes to unpack part of 1 box and put things where they’re going instead of feeling like you have to pack a whole room or even a whole closet.

  8. movalmoni says:

    I started setting a timer for 20 minutes to try and get things done. It sort of worked. But 20 minutes is too long. I can do 5. Off to do something.

  9. Angela Stone says:

    Even yer ‘ole mom will take 5 minutes to read my favorite blog–yours.

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