The 10-minute rule

This is going up a bit late since we’re cat-sitting, and she’s a bit of a rascal. We’ve turned off the lights in the cat room (aka the kitchen), and right now we’re just waiting for her to fall asleep and stop what sounds like a demolition of our kitchen counters.

It’s been a while since my last study technique-related blog post, so I thought I’d share a technique I’ve been using lately to up my efficiency. This trick is so simple, and can be used for everything from finishing tasks, to essay writing, to tidying up your dorm room.

So here’s the trick; do you remember when you were little how eagerly you’d finish tasks if someone timed you? This is exactly like that. Usually when I study for an exam I like to create an overview document for each subsection. That way I get to review everything, and in the process create sort of a cliffs notes version of the books. The trouble is I’m really bad at limiting myself, and oftentimes I end up “over explaining” everything, thus spending far too much time on something that’s not all that important. So instead of filling in every subsection of the document 100%, one at a time, I started doing this:

1. Set the timer for 10 minutes.

2. Do as much of the task as you can for those 10 minutes.

3. When the 10 minutes are up, stop what you’re doing, and move on to the next task.

By doing this, instead of ending up with the first five tasks or subsections 100% filled in, and the final few tasks hurriedly skimmed through, you get a rough overview, and will most likely be able to finish the tasks, essay, study document, cleaning your room, your to-do list, or whatever else you want to get done. Also, it’ll probably go way faster than if you’d spent all your energy at the get go, and burned out before getting to the finish line.

So if you find yourself with a long to-do list, or a task sheet that’s seemingly endless, work in 10-minute increments, and race against yourself, just like when you were a kid. Most likely you’ll find that:

1. You’ll finish faster

2. You’ll be less bored and more efficient

3. Since you’re strapped for time, you’ll only bother to write down/do what is most important/what yields the highest reward (remember the 80/20 principle, often times 20 percent of the work accounts for 80 percent of the results.)

That’s pretty much it! Try it out and see for yourself. It can really help you want to jump-start your work if you’re in a procrastinate-y state of mind. I think I’m going to call it a night, early start tomorrow with the first anatomy and physiology lectures. I honestly can’t wait, THIS is the kind of stuff I’ve been properly looking forward to. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, and until then, have a great start of the week.