You can do anything in 10 minutes

09/26/2013 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:18 AM

I might not be a scientist with all the proper techniques, equipment and charts, but I’ve discovered something: a valuable skill in which I can do just about anything in 10 minutes flat. Want to know more?

Cleaning

I can have a room sparkling in 10 minutes or less. This feat requires courage, speed and even some patience. Let’s start with the patience. Go to the room in question and spray it down with your cleaner of choice (I lean green, so my go-to cleaners are usually vinegar, lemon and baking soda). Start spraying from top to bottom, and spray like you mean it. Flaunt your patience by letting the cleaner simmer and work its magic. Five minutes later, return and summon up all the energy of the Tasmanian devil. You’re feeling brave now, so grab some sponges and attack that dastardly dirt. Work like the wind, showing no mercy to tidbits and extras. Remember, if you haven’t touched it in one month, it’s to be tossed with no exceptions. This is not for the faint of heart; there is no dillydallying or whistling a pretty, happy tune with this work. This is hard-core, manic-style cleaning, and that room will be spotless and shining in 10 minutes guaranteed.

Bonus Tip: Start top to bottom because dirt and dust falls. So you should clean from the highest point and end with the floor. If it helps, pretend that your mother-in-law or boss or a TV crew is coming in 10 minutes. Trust me; pressure helps.

Money

Next to my computer, I keep a folder that holds all my bills. As I sift through my mail, I stand over a trashcan, toss all the junk into it and place all my bills into the folder. Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., I fuel myself with extra hot, strong coffee and open that folder. I pull up my online bank account and gather my checkbook, stamps and envelopes (I’m one of those old-school fools). A 2-minute scan of the bills is enough to sort them in order of when they’re due. Those on top get paid immediately, and those that aren’t due yet or require time for the next paycheck to arrive get put back into the folder and are forgotten until next Tuesday at 10 a.m. I pay my bills on time or even early. I don’t care about working the system or saving half a penny in interest by waiting. I’m no Rockefeller, and I don’t fancy playing games with my credit. I owe money, so bills get paid and off my mind – usually in less than 10 minutes a week.

Bonus tip: Print up a piece of paper that lives in the bill folder. This paper holds the account numbers of your 401 or IRA or college fund or crazy-vacation fund or emergency fund. Those get paid (a little bit) every Tuesday as well. It’s easier to save $25 a week versus $100 a month. You'll never miss the $25 and it will add up quickly. No exceptions, no matter what. You'll thank me for this later.

Play

When trying to organize a girls’ night out, it’s sometimes as difficult as applying to medical school, studying for eight years, getting board-certified and becoming a doctor. Yes, it can be that tedious to coordinate schedules, hire babysitters and find a restaurant satisfying everyone’s needs. I spend a minute drafting an e-mail to my friends that gives them exactly two choices: dinner and drinks this Friday or next Friday. I sign off with “you have five minutes to respond.” And they do. We go out, fun is had by all and I slyly pride myself on the knowledge that the night’s planning was done in less than 10 minutes.

Bonus tip: This “only two” option works in many areas. Try it for date night with your spouse, a meeting with your boss or co-workers, having your kids do their chores, as in: “You can clean your room tonight or tomorrow night, which will it be?”

Everything else

There really isn’t much that can’t be accomplished in 10 minutes. The main reason anything takes more time is because we’re unfocused, undisciplined and unmotivated to accomplish the task. If you had to – and I mean had to – clean your house, pay your bills and book some play time in 10 minutes or less, you could and you would. Try it and see what happens. Eventually, you realize that dedicating only 10 minutes to something is a million times better than worrying and fretting about it for hours, days or weeks. “Ten and done.” That’s my motto; maybe it can be yours, too.

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