The Five Minute Miracle
Updated: Jun 14
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, is one of my favorites. Her realistic approach to getting things done and being happy always caught my eye. And I'm fairly certain she talks a bit about powering through 5 things or spending a finite amount of time on something, even if you don't finish it. I have a similar perspective. When we are most overwhelmed, I think we overlook the opportunity that comes with remembering that everything gets done one step, one minute at a time. And over the course of a day, we have little pockets of time here and there that we could potentially be using for good. I know some people will say "but it's just five minutes - I can't even get started in 5 minutes!" But you can get started. You might not finish, but you can get started. And that is progress. Every task, every goal, every day we live is lived and done one minute at a time. Five of them really can be a miracle when it comes to getting the results we want.
I wouldn't dare waste my precious minutes. That certainly doesn't mean I want to be going, going, going, though I am somewhat engineered for such activity. Honoring our time means actively choosing how we are going to use it, even if it is only for five minutes. And if you are worried about it morphing into a longer project than you anticipated, then set a timer and come back to that particular activity the next time around. Working in 5 minute increments also keeps me really motivated to maintain a certain level of order. It is nearly impossible to get through 5-minute dinner prep if it takes you 5 minutes to unearth the crock pot. How frustrating to try and spend just five minutes cleaning the entryway when the last few weeks have been about coming home and dumping everything in the corner. Still, we can't use that as an excuse to not act. Dig in that pile. Five minutes here. Five minutes there. It won't clear itself out of the way. Eventually, the pile will be gone. And when you have five minutes again, you get to sweep that corner and feel proud.
In just 5 minutes, I can:
load the dishwasher
wipe down the kitchen counter
unpack and sort papers from my kids' backpacks
tidy the entryway
walk through a room and collect all of the things that don't belong
set out ingredients and bowls for dinner prep
hang up the clothes at the end of my bed
clean out one of the veggie drawers in the fridge
make the bed
freshen the bathroom towels
put away the folded laundry for one household member
sort the mail
start a blog post
change that light bulb that has been out for 2 months
And if I don't want to spend my 5 minutes on chores, I can also:
read an article from a magazine
send a text to a friend
do 50 burpees....only if I'm in the mood for a tough five minutes
download pictures from my phone
play one song on the piano
And when I really want to use my 5 minutes in the most enriching way possible, I can:
write down a few affirmations
put my feet up and close my eyes outside, enjoying the breeze
read just a few paragraphs from the novel on my nightstand
eat a piece of fruit
play Old Maid with my daughter
We have to get out the mindset of always proclaiming that we don't have enough time. We have as much time as everyone else, today and 200 years ago. We have 24 hours, that progress one minute at a time, over and over again. Do we have time for everything? Not even close. Do we have time to get something done so that we can go to bed feeling less overwhelmed? We sure do. We owe it to ourselves to identify what is most important in our schedules and do that. We owe it to ourselves to include time for self-care, the care of our families and the care of our homes. We don't need to spend hours on end making sure that everything gets attention. But waiting until we have those endless hours that never come usually means that activity doesn't get done. And if we finally get around to it, it just takes us even more of the time we claim to not have. And we never feel very good about that.
Five minutes feels like a miracle when you realize just how much you can get done with so little time. Five minutes. Pick your task. Set the timer. And go. I guarantee you will feel better about your day. What can YOU do with just 5 minutes?