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make it happen in 10 minutes

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This is Week 25 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested Make it Happen in Ten Minutes a Day {affiliate link}. I chose a create task and a conquer task for the week and sought to spend ten minutes a day on each. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.

How Make it Happen Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Got me started on tasks that seemed overwhelming. You’d think I would know better than to make mental mountains out of molehills as a psychologist, but I still do it. I was procrastinating on both my tasks and this approach shrunk them down to size.
  • Gave me a positive attitude about the work. I love the dichotomy of create and conquer. Both are positive terms that helped me have the right mindset.
  • Time flew. I did get quite a bit done while working for each ten-minute stint, but was continually surprised by how quickly it was over.

How Make it Happen Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Wasn’t able to get into a work flow. With everything going on this week, I didn’t feel free to work beyond the ten-minute mark. Neither task was critical, so I just fulfilled the obligation. That was frustrating because I knew I wasn’t making as much progress as I wanted to.
  • Didn’t use it every day. Either I was gone, exhausted, or I forgot. After 25 weeks of these tests, it’s become clear that I have a one-track mind. I had a hard time focusing because the tasks aren’t top priorities.

Did Make it Happen Help Me Get Things Done?

Yes, when I used it. Besides being gone and absorbed by other goings on, I found myself a lot more interested in my 12 Week Year tasks. My two tasks felt like added obligations and habits I had to attend to. I did really appreciate that I started on the tasks, however. I am thinking I should use the ten minutes on my 12 Week Year tasks because it does work.


I have used this concept to good effect in organizing. I try to spend at least 15 minutes a day on some organizing or decluttering task. Using the tasks on this calendar helps.

productivity hacks, reviews

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 26

This week I’ll be testing what I call the Focus & Relief approach. Deven has modified Mark Forster’s AutoFocus approach to include two lists: a focus list composed of urgent tasks, tasks with hard deadlines, and up to three other tasks and what I am calling a relief list made up of tasks with no or soft deadlines. 

The concept. The problem with the AutoFocus approach is finding the right balance between attention to urgent tasks and everything else. In simplest terms, the Focus & Relief approach begins with the Relief List. This is what Deven originally called the Whenever list, but renamed the Main list to avoid the connotation of someday/maybe. Based on group discussion, I like the term Relief–not because tasks are always a relief to work on, but because they will provide a break from focused work. You begin with the Relief list because it will contain non-urgent tasks that you might not otherwise get to.

Once you have done something on the Relief list, switch to the Focus list and work for as long as you like, switching to the Relief list when you need a break. After EACH Relief task, you must return to the Focus list. This process keeps you from forgetting about your top priorities, in favor of tasks you could do any time.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Deven’s post on Mark’s forum. Don’t worry about all the acronyms. If you’re too confused by his extended rules relating to starring and rewriting, just use the guidelines above. I will be using paper lists of tasks as they occur to me.

To see if Focus & Relief made me more productive, click here.

If you’ve tried Make it Happen in Ten Minutes to increase your productivity, please comment. I will no longer be including polls.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual