22 Minutes

Even in retirement, I've found I cannot keep up with all the things to do in daily life. Things like housework, yard work, and general maintenance. Just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap. Naps are the best retirement reward but can be misused in avoidance of daily life work. I've become guilty of nap misuse....


My problem in accomplishing anything but naps is all about focus. I cannot seem to finish a task without taking side trips to other tasks. I've tried all kinds of strategies to combat my natural tendency to wander off task. Lists, daily goals, stern self talks, etc.


Last week, I had a brilliant but totally accidental thought. When I take a nap I set a timer on my phone for 25 minutes. It's taken me awhile to find the perfect number. 15 minutes is too short because I feel like I only got about two minutes of actual sleep worrying about falling asleep quickly to get the benefits of a nap. 20 minutes is just right if I add the 5 minutes to adjust for making my brain shut up and my body get in a comfy place. I have studied this whole nap thing like it's some kind of science experiment. I like to get the most out of my naps.


So, there I was last week, standing out in my garden area, looking at how fast I was losing control of the weed situation. Each of the 6 raised beds was growing an amazing amount of weed species and abundance both inside and outside each bed. The raspberry patch was being inundated with a honeysuckle shrubs introduced by years of birds stealing the raspberries and pooping out honeysuckle seeds they'd taken from someone else's yard. The sand cherry hedge looked ragged and needed a haircut. My two fire rings were calling me to fill them up with stuff and have a campfire. I felt hopeless until I remembered my nap strategy.


What if I imposed a 20 minute timer on a whole bunch of small tasks designed to make me feel like I actually accomplished something? How much prep time do I need to get the most out of 20 minutes? I picked 2 minutes and set the timer. I got in one of the raised beds and pushed start. I realized I needed a couple digging tools so I got up and got them without impacting my 20 minutes of focused time. When the timer ended, the whole bed was free of weeds and so were the outsides of it. I moved onto the next one with the same result. Whoa! This focus time is just the ticket!


Tired of the raised beds already, I moved on to the raspberry patch and took a deep breath. In my 2 minutes of prep I had the weed whacker, wheelbarrow and clippers ready for action. When the timer started beeping, I had about a third of the patch cleaned up. Woo hoo!


I've now used the 22 minute timer for inside chores, cleaning out my truck, working on flower beds, and a ton of other things. Did all the work get done in each area in 22 minutes? No, but I sure felt like I made progress and that felt beyond good. When I go back to the areas I've already done a 22 minute thing on, it doesn't feel so daunting.


There's hope for me yet! And the best part, I still get to take naps. Dang, I amaze myself every day! Yay!!!!

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