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How much can you do in 15 minutes?

March 8, 2017 | by Margaret Marcuson

Is it possible to do anything in 15 minutes? A lot, I’m discovering. Time management experts often suggest taking a few days to track your time in 15 minute blocks. I’ve resisted this my whole ministry. It seemed tedious and useless.

Well, one of the most productive people I know recommended it again recently. So I embarked on a two-week experiment: simply track 15-minute increments for a week, and then plan and track for the second week. I was skeptical.

Surprise! It works.

I was astonished by my productivity. And it wasn’t nearly as tedious as I expected, especially when I saw how much I was getting done.

So I’m continuing my experiment. I don’t expect I’ll be doing it forever, but I’m finding it keeps me going through the day.

Unexpected benefit

And, perhaps even more important, it helps me be realistic about what I can achieve in a day. Planning out your day by 15 minutes, I can see this list is at least a week’s worth of work. I should plan for it to take a week, not a day.

What about interruptions? Some days in ministry seem like nothing but interruptions. But it is possible to block out times when you won’t answer the phone. And if you have a plan, you may be less likely to spend an hour shooting the breeze with someone who comes into the office. Perhaps half an hour—or even 15 minutes–would do it.

What can you do in 15 minutes? A lot. Here are some ideas:

  • Outline a newsletter article.
  • Answer some emails (and then stop after 15 minutes).
  • Go over the order of service with your assistant.
  • Read the text for Sunday.
  • Leave three voicemails for people letting them know you are thinking about them.It’s true at home, too. I’ve meant to clean out my freezer since last summer, and it took me not fifteen, but only ten minutes.

My father was in sales, and I still remember a catchphrase he had: “Plan your work and work your plan.” I’m getting better.

What can you do in 15 minutes?


Margaret Marcuson

Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations and online resources. Margaret is the author of Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry and MoneyandYour Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance. She served as a pastor for 15 years.



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