Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Twenty-five minutes isn't a very long time, except when it's forever. Time is funny that way.

An aside: I'm home. My brother is not yet at his home, but that will come soon. All has gone well. In the past 25 years, Be the Match has facilitated 50,000 transplants between unrelated donors. Yet only about half of people who need transplants receive them. If your 2012 resolutions include finding a way to make a difference, joining the donor registry in the U.S. or Canada is a great first step.

The luxury of a Major Life Event is that you know your priorities and can put lesser things aside. The downside of that luxury is that when your role in the Major Life Event is over, those shoved-aside things are still there. Now that I'm home, I am making an effort to tackle those shoved-aside things.

I have had success with a strategy I'm calling "suffer for 25 minutes." The original, part of Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project, was "suffer for 15 minutes," and I guess I confused that with the Pomodoro Technique, which I have never tried (especially not the official version with approved papers and t-shirts) but have read about on other writers' blogs.

Fifteen minutes. Twenty-five minutes. Not a lot of time, right? Except that it is! Kids know this. Waiting 25 minutes for ice cream is an eternity. Reading for 25 minutes before you start homework -- that's a mere blink of an eye.

The basic idea is that you take one of those big projects that seems so daunting, and you work at it for X amount of time -- in my case, 25 minutes -- regularly. Yesterday, I worked on money-related things, having brainstormed a list of possible tasks ahead of time. (Money is my biggest "oh I gotta" area, and I feel particularly burdened by dealing with money issues in two countries, but that's likely my martyr complex at work.) I figured the filing alone would require several sessions. Imagine my surprise when I was bored with filing, sure my time was nearly finished and I'd need to start re-stacking my piles of papers, and I still had 15 minutes left! And the surprise was not exactly pleased surprise!

In those last 15 minutes, which I finished even though our power went out, I finished the filing and started the next task on my brainstormed list. When the timer buzzed -- and setting a timer is so satisfying (25 minutes is so short!) until it doesn't and doesn't and DOES NOT buzz -- I was surprised at how much I'd accomplished. And that was definitely pleased surprise.

I have a different "big project" for each day of the week: Money Monday, Photo Friday, etc. Cute, eh. (Yes, I know yesterday was Tuesday but the holiday altered the schedule.) The best part of this method, an abbreviated version of which I've been doing for more than a year, is that the suffering lets me not think about that project at other times. Like, when I'm writing.

Which is, after all, the point. Welcome to 2012 -- 25 minutes of regular suffering at a time.