Life is made up of nothing more than a series of moments. If you can find some way to pull 15 extra minutes out of a hat, you’d better at least use them wisely. Where will you find these moments, and when you find them, how will you use them?
Just 15 extra minutes a day will convert into a powerful 91 hours a year. That’s a massive chunk of time that you can use to acquire new skills and get things done. The benefit is seen when we create a daily habit and commit those 15 minutes to something worthwhile. You can wake up 15 minutes earlier, steal 15 minutes from lunch, after work, or right before bed — the choice is yours.
Once you’ve figured out which sleeve those 15 minutes are hiding under, you’re ready to pick your target. You can mix-and-match from the list below, or choose a specific item to focus on over weeks, months, or even a year. The key is your commitment to cultivate a habit, from which your life will improve.
20 Useful Things You Can Accomplish In 15 Minutes
1. Stretch. If you stretch for 15 minutes every day you will become very flexible. It will be easier for you to move around, exercise, and it will facilitate the flow of blood throughout your body. This extra flow will improve your overall health and improve your mental focus.
2. Read. Pick a time when you can read, without interruptions, for a solid 15 minutes each day. You’ll find that you’re able to get through certain books in a week or two, and you’re increasing your knowledge and mental capacity with minimal effort. You may discover a new passion, or master a subject over the course of a year through this small time commitment.
3. Run. Do a series of short sprints with intervals between running and resting. This is the best way to build up speed and increase your body’s capacity to utilize oxygen. At the same time you will be powering up your body with higher energy levels throughout the rest of your day.
4. Calisthenics. This form of exercising involves sit-ups, push-ups, trunk twists, squats, chin-ups, etc., which basically means using your own body weight as resistance. It’s very effective to build muscle tone and get your exercise on, and it hardly requires any equipment (other than perhaps a chin-up bar).
5. Sleep. I just told you to find 15 minutes, and now I’m recommending that you sleep them away? This one is more useful during the middle of the day. If you have a set schedule, and you can conveniently fit a 15 minute nap, you can catch a second wind that will leave you feeling energized for the second half of your day.
6. Cook. This might not be enough time to make an extensive meal, but it is sufficient enough to put something together. Make yourself a sandwich, or get some leftovers together, so that you don’t have to eat out for lunch. You’ll save a lot of money using this method.
7. Write. Depending on your writing skill, you may be able to take a nice chunk out of writing a 50,000 word novel (it’s less than you think), over the span of a couple of years, if you use your 15 minutes a day wisely. If it takes you longer, so be it, but eventually you will have the finished product in your hand. This won’t happen unless you sit down and write.
8. Talk (aka Listen). You can use your newly found time to build solid relationships with several people, or an even closer one with one special person. You can both look forward to these 15 minutes, whether in person or over the phone, and share your goals, dreams, and accomplishments with each other. If 15 minutes is too little time for you to talk then just listen to them for 15 minutes and they’ll love you for it.
9. Draw. While 15 minutes a day, over the course of a year, may not be enough time to build a professional collection, it’s still mighty useful. You can use these 15 minutes to create several nice drawings, but more importantly it will sharpen your skill and give you a creative outlet.
10. Blog. I’ll admit that it takes me longer than 15 minutes to write a blog post, but you can take the short and sweet approach yourself. In 15 minutes you can craft and publish some witty commentary or useful information about a breaking topic that your readers would truly appreciate.
11. Journal. One of the best gifts you can give yourself is the ability to reflect upon your life. You can do this by keeping a journal of the biggest highlights within your life. Taking just 15 minutes a day to write down how you feel, what you learned, and what you want out of life will help you track where you’ve been and where you want to go.
12. Visit nature. Bask in the beauty and serenity that nature has selflessly provided us with. Go to a forest, park, or simply sit under a tree, and do nothing, read a book, or chat with a friend. While out walking I saw a kid sitting under a tree with his laptop; while not the most effective use of nature, it still beats doing the required homework inside the house on a beautiful day.
13. Meditate. The research is in, and there’s no doubt that stress is a killer. I’ve learned extensively in my Masters program about the physiological damage that stress causes within us. Meditation is one of the very best ways to relieve stress, and it has many other benefits as well. Do yourself a favor and try this on.
14. Organize. In 15 minute bursts there is a lot you can do to organize your life. You can clean a table top, the desktop on your computer, your bookshelf, organize your clothes, vacuum your house, bathroom, kitchen, etc. Just know that your 15 minutes are dedicated to some form of cleaning, and you’ll notice that your environment and eventually your mind will be that much more clutter free.
15. Plan. Spend 15 minutes planning out your day, or week. By spending time planning every single day you’ll end up saving hours by remembering the right supplies, making special arrangements, and cutting out unnecessary steps. Planning makes a difference.
16. Network. Whether it’s for your job, or some kind of recreational endeavor, you can use your 15 minutes to network and make friends. You can do this by using twitter, or creating a template e-mail and searching out new people to contact with it. Even if you contact 5 people a day, that’s 1825 potential contacts over the year. That’s just the point, it adds up.
17. Research. With Google at your fingertips you can find out some very useful information about your health, hobby, career, or some way to improve your life. You can even buy access into scientific journals and do some significant medical research in your spare time.
18. Play catch. You won’t find too many activities easier than tossing the ball around between two people. It’s great exercise, it’s relaxing yet invigorating, and a great opportunity to talk and bond.
19. Eat slowly. Do not treat eating as one of life’s little inconveniences. Instead, eat slowly and enjoy each bite as if it were your last, and if it were, know that you got the most out of it by using an extra 15 minutes to extract pleasure from each morsel of food.
20. Self-improvement. Take 15 minutes a day to read some articles by your favorite writers who compress massive amounts of information into practical, easy to read, and very informative articles.
This article is contributed by Alex Shalman, a freelance writer with degrees in Psychology (BA) and Biomedical Science (MS). Alex writes passionately and extensively aboutPersonal Development at AlexShalman.com while making his way through further studies. Goal #1 is to operate with the greatest good of all in mind and bring value into your life.
Images by Apesara and Bob Jagendorf.