Could 20 Minutes Change Your Life?


Twitter isn’t good for a lot of things. It can be a very strange place where millions of people aggressively shout their opinions into an empty void using 140 characters or less. But it is good for getting unsolicited advice from complete strangers – and those are the exact kind of people I like to get my advice from. 

The single best time to get unsolicited advice on Twitter is the short window between December 31st and January 1st. That’s when everyone is at their most reflective. Erin Ryan (@morninggloria), a television writer and host of the Crooked Media podcast Hysteria, tweeted a list of her best advice stepping into 2020 and it was all pretty damn good, but the one that really stuck with me is the following: “20 minutes is nothing. You can do just about anything if you set a timer for 20 minutes and do only that thing until it goes off. Reading, exercising, power napping, vowing revenge.”

The thing about our generation is that we’ve become *too good* at multi-tasking. We can listen to a podcast while scrolling Twitter and checking emails. We can watch Netflix while online shopping and eating dinner. Gone are the days when a single task gets our undivided attention. So, since January, I’ve been intermittently putting Ryan’s advice to task and she’s right: you can do just about anything for twenty minutes. Because it’s only twenty minutes! Ten minutes, twice. I set the timer on my iPhone for twenty minutes and for the next 1,200 seconds I do only the task before me. Wiping down all the shelves of my fridge and throwing out expired produce. Brainstorming new articles without letting my fingers leave the keyboard. Stretching. Belly breathing. Cleaning my makeup brushes. Reconciling my Xero account. Pairing all the socks in my sock drawer. Twenty minutes has changed my productivity and therefore, by proximity, my life.

So try it! Because the thing about twenty minutes is that for a task you enjoy – like stretching – it’s so much longer than you think. And for a task you hate – like running or accounting – it’s so much shorter than you think. You could organise your spice drawer. Learn Wim Hoff’s breathing technique. Go walking outside, unplugged from music or a podcast. Vacuum the inside of your car. Write a list of the errands you’ve been meaning to do for the past month. Call your grandmother. Make a pile of old clothes to sell or donate. Iron all of your boyfriend’s business shirts for the next week.

But don’t do that last one – make him do the ironing for twenty damn minutes. 

Header image via Tumblr