You can do anything for four minutes

We’re heading home for a visit in 16 days.

But before then I have five newspapers to produce, one (new!) apartment to furnish, one move to coordinate and two birthday parties to plan.

That’s just on top of the usual daily business of living.

Ages ago (ok, actually less than three years) Travis and I were part of a winning team at the annual Tickle Cove Dory Races.

The race was tough, the paddles wore deep wounds in my palms, but we won – we won! – and we each took home $100 and 12 months worth of glory for our efforts.

I found out we were expecting Sylvia just two days later, so it’s a wonder I remember much from that weekend at all.

(I just re-read this piece I wrote at the time, so that refreshed my memory some.)

Anyway, that was also the weekend we coined the somewhat cheesy self-help mantra, “I can do anything for four minutes.”

See, the race was hard but it was only four minutes long, so you only had to keep going for four minutes. And what’s four minutes, in the long run? Nothing. Therefore, you can do anything for four minutes.

It’s my own butt-kicking way to get through things.

Don’t want to work out? I can do anything for 30 minutes.
Don’t want to return that phone call? I can do anything for two minutes.
Don’t want to move across the country? I can do anything for five months.
Don’t want to be crazy busy for the next 16 days? Well, I can do anything for 16 days.

It’s useful, because there’s always an end in sight. By putting a time limit on it, anything becomes manageable. I see your four/five/thirty minutes of difficulty, and I raise you the relief of getting ‘er done.

I use it on Sylvia, too:

Don’t want to brush your teeth? We’ll you’re just going to have to put up with it for 90 seconds!

(I get varying degrees of success with that one.)

It’s no different than any of the other self-help methods for Getting Things Done, except that it’s home grown and special to our own little family.

So if anyone wants to help edit a paper, shop for furniture, move house or plan a party…you know where to find me. I’ll be over here with my head down for the next 16 days.

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6 responses to “You can do anything for four minutes

  1. Motivating post! I could use shorter time limits in my life:)

  2. I use the same thing in speed skating – when E. has us doing seven or ten laps – the reality is it should only take 3 or 4 minutes (longer for me) so I just focus on how little time I’m actually doing it for.

    I’m pretty sure that is the worst grammatically incorrect sentence ever.

    That one too. I give up.

  3. I totally use that type of thinking to get me through things – even things that could take months/years/too long I just try to break into manageable deadlines so I can talk myself through them 🙂

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