Yesterday during our rehearsal break one of the singers was standing at my window looking at the note in the photograph. She asked what it meant. My answer was short and incomplete, something about working on a project 15 minutes every day to divide big projects in little steps. But in fact it’s a lot more than that. To me, the 15 Minutes a Day Method has become a way of life.
It started with my Italian teacher (who later became my French teacher). I wanted to learn Italian and she made me a plan. She had a grammar and exercise book which we divided into 12 parts, one for each month. Then we divided each part into 4 so I had weekly lessons to prepare. Then she said: ‘You don’t have to work much at home. Just 15 minutes a day. But listen carefully: every day.’
She then explained to me that this was the way she learned other languages. Now hold on: that woman knew Italian, French, Russian, and Czech. By now she was 67 years old and she had just started to take up Chinese with her 15-minute method. I admired how focused she was. But I had my doubts: ‘My teacher can do it,’ I thought, ‘because she’s retired. She’s focused and I’m not. She has time and I don’t.’ I realised they were all excuses. I wanted to learn something, and something told me I should try that 15 Minutes thing of hers.
Here comes the magic of the method! So, like I just said, first I thought I had to be focused to be able to do this. But the good news is that it’s the other way around. It’s the 15 Minutes a Day that get you focused. That’s why I put that note up, because that’s where it starts.
With my bad handwriting, I took care to make a really pretty note and put that up to remind myself that it takes care of me. This is how I proceed:
- I step into my music room and tell myself strictly, ‘And you’re not coming out of that room until those 15 minutes are over!’
- Then I take my little mechanic alarm clock egg, and set it on 15 minutes.
- Then I sit down at the piano, at my desk, at my laptop, whatever it is what I’ve planned.
- I work / practice / write / read until the alarm goes off.
The fun thing is that when the alarm goes off, I don’t feel like stopping. Very often, I set another 15 minutes. This is very personal but I want to share it with you anyway. For me, the great pluses of the method are:
- I don’t have to do stressful last-minute study (you know, two hours before a rehearsal going through the sheet music in mild panic?)
- I have more peace of mind (and less thinking ‘I really should’ or worse, ‘I really should have…’)
- It makes me happy to create time for what I really want to do
- Because I study, I get better at what I want to learn
- I get a lot of things done in one day because I’ve paid attention to each task, even if it was only for fifteen minutes.
And here comes another part of the magic: since those 15 minutes are ‘recorded’, they feel like real solid time spent on something important. There is no room for the feeling of time slipping through your fingers. So: more control over your life. How cool is that?
I invite you to try it.
You may think ‘She can do it because she’s focused, she doesn’t have children, she doesn’t have grandchildren, she doesn’t have What’s-app, she doesn’t have a garden.’
Maybe that’s true. But hey, it’s only 15 minutes.