How to start doing anything
It’s so basic you literally cannot argue with it. It’s so basic, anyone, anywhere, speaking any language, with any amount of available time, can do it. It’s also so basic you just can’t fail at it.
If you do try it, I have to warn you, it’ll work.
10 minutes. That’s it. 10 minutes. Basic. The time between 11:30 and 11:40. The time it takes to walk half a mile casually. Less than the time it takes to heat a pot of water on a stove.
You can achieve almost anything starting with 10 minutes.
You might very well be ready to close this tab, thinking “You can’t do much at all in 10 minutes, this dude’s cray”, but stick with me.
Fact is, I didn’t even come up with the idea. (Can anyone really actually be credited for such a small basic idea?) I came across it most recently in an audio-guided training run on Nike Plus Run Club. A very smart person → Bill Nye suggests in “Go 20 with Bill Nye” that running for just 10 minutes does fantastic things for your body, health, and happiness. So says science. If you can improve your whole wellbeing with 10 minutes, you could do almost anything, right?
I started this year tired of being unfit. So, I signed up for a 5km race in Oakland, California, where I live. I struggled through some training, but it sucked. I finished the race thanks to a highly motivated friend, who literally dragged me over the finish line, and in that moment I felt WONDERFUL — super accomplished, thrilled, powerful. But I also felt defeated, because I didn’t know what to do next. I had no way to improve on this small accomplishment, no way to make the training process enjoyable, no way to get unstuck. And that’s when I came across Bill Nye’s NRC recording. It became clear: When I don’t feel like doing something, I will start with just 10 minutes. I will not expect myself to do anything I don’t want to do for more than 10 minutes. And I will celebrate anything I do for 10 minutes that I otherwise would not have enjoyed doing.
It turns out, it’s simple to convince yourself to do almost anything for 10 minutes. And once you’ve done almost anything for 10 minutes, it’s simple to celebrate those 10 minutes (a wholehearted smile for your awesomeness, your inner voice cutting you some slack, a moment knowing it’s all possible). It’s also simple to convince yourself to do that thing again for 10 minutes the next day, or the next. After all, it’s only 10 minutes, the time between 11:30 and 11:40.
Five months later, I ran a challenging 15km trail run in a country where it was winter, running through icy rivers and up a mountain. I actually enjoyed it, AND I enjoyed the training. I started intense HIIT workout classes and now am a regular. I started writing about my work and even wrote this little article. I started reading more and got through 3 books in the last two months. I’ve practiced becoming a better listener and friend. I’ve finished more at work in the previous month than in the 6 months before that. I’ve reignited my passion for design and code and released a long-awaited update to one of my side projects gaining hundreds of new subscribers to my newsletter. You’ll have guessed it by now: everything on this list started with 10 minutes.
Whatever you want to do, go get it. Reach your dreams. Start running, cycling, or just moving more. Write an article. Read a book. Climb a mountain. Start a company. Work on your focus. Follow your heart. Just don’t expect more than 10 minutes, celebrate every 10 minutes, and if it feels good, do another 10 minutes.