My First Night on the 15-Minute Home Improvement Regimen

Well, if you haven’t been reading this blog lately, you need to check out the last post.  In that one, I talked about what I think is potentially one of the best home-improvement ideas we’ve ever talked about:  The 15-Minute Home Improvement Regimen.

It’s a big, long name . . . but the concept behind it is extremely simple:  just take 15 minutes a day, two or three times a week, and work on some of the little projects around your home.

Now, you may wonder, why 15 minutes?  Why three times a week?  Why not longer?  Why not more often?

Well, I’ll tell you.  15 minutes is the perfect amount of time because it’s manageable.  It’s a painless amount of time to spend and it’s easy to dig up an extra 15 minutes here and there.  Doing this two or three times a week is perfect because it guarantees that you’ll be able to keep up on it without too much difficulty.  It won’t overload you.  It won’t fill you with dread.  If you set your goals or standards too high, you’ll wear yourself out quickly and you’ll abandon the program right away.  But if you set manageable goals, you’ll be able to stick with it.  And if you do that–if you stick with it–you’ll see tremendous results by the end of a year.  In fact, as we mentioned last time, if you spend 15 minutes a day for 3 days a week and do that for an entire year . . . by the end, you’ll have put almost 40 hours of maintenance into your home.

Anyway, that’s the idea.  Last night, I started my own 15 minute regimen and in so doing, I quickly discovered two benefits of this idea that I hadn’t anticipated.

Let me explain:  I finished up my RepcoLite work around 5:15 or so last night and then went out and mowed the yard.  That took another 20 minutes or so.  When that was done, I came in and asked my wife to set a timer for 15 minutes.

Well, she looked at me with a confused look on her face and asked me what I was doing.  When I told her, explaining my plan to accomplish little jobs around the house in 15 minute increments, throughout the next year, she surprised me.  She told me she’d start the timer, but that she’d also work on little jobs she wanted to accomplish while I was working on mine.

I hadn’t anticipated this.  In all my talk and writing about this idea, I hadn’t envisioned multiple sets of hands at work.  Needless to say, I was excited.  If we both stuck to this schedule, we’d accomplish almost 80 hours of work on the home by this time next year–twice as much as I had hoped.

That was the first discovery I made–and I urge you to keep that in mind.  Bringing your spouse into this program will instantly double your productivity.  And don’t be afraid to expand from here.  I’ve got 5 children–4 of whom can actually do a fair amount of work when they are asked.  If we’d all commit to spending 15 minutes a night working together on little tasks–sanding some trim, cleaning a room, organizing some toys, cleaning some closets . . . if we’d all do that, we’d accomplish nearly 234 work hours on the home by the end of the year.  Pipe dream?  Possibly.  But it’s definitely worth thinking about.

Also, before you label me some kind of child-labor proponent, let me point out that bringing your kids (and your spouse) into the work can be a good experience for all of you.  Your kids will learn the value of hard work, you’ll be spending time together, and, if you keep the work time limited to 15 minutes, it’s never going to be too much of a burden for any of you.  So think about it.

Anyway, that’s the first discovery I made.  The second one was just as exciting–at least to me.

See, when my wife set the timer, we both jumped straight into our tasks.  She went straight downstairs to start organizing a messy storage area we have down there while I headed outside to tackle our storage shed.

When I opened the doors and looked at the mess, I realized I had a job ahead of me.  The summer had taken its toll on my barn and as a result, there were piles of bikes and scooters and extension cords all heaped over with various kids toys–bats, balls, gloves and little shovels.

Now normally, I would have stood there for a while, staring at the mess and growing progressively more and more angry.  But last night, I didn’t have that luxury.  I didn’t have time to stare and get angry.  I had 15 minutes–probably 14 by now–to get that barn clean.  And so I went to work.

I hauled everything out, stacked it, organized it.  I threw away the garbage and swept out the grass clippings, the dirt and the dead leaves.  I worked quickly, almost nervously, because I knew that timer was going to go off any minute.  It became, in my mind, a race against time.

And that’s when I made the other discovery that surprised me:  I realized I was having fun.  I was hustling to finish the job before the buzzer.  I was up against the clock and I loved it.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I’ve got a deadline . . . time seems to fly.  When I’ve got all day  to accomplish something, time seems to crawl.  Last night, I accomplished that entire barn-cleaning and re-organizing in 16 minutes.  It looks great and the time it took to do it literally flew by.  My wife expressed the same thoughts when she emerged from her task.

We both accomplished a lot of work in a short amount of time and we had fun doing it.  Tonight is our next work night.  Then, our plan is to put in another 15 minutes on Thursday and tall it a week.  I won’t report our progress every night–who’d want to read that–but I’ll keep reminding you of this idea from time to time because I really believe it will make a difference in your home.

So, do yourself a favor and give it a try.  No matter what jobs you have to accomplish in your home, this is the perfect way to tackle some of them.  Try it and see for yourself:  it’s painless, effective and almost . . . in a weird, race-against-the-clock-kind-of-way . . . fun.

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