The Freedom of Fifteen Minutes

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash

My eight year old Grandson discovered the freedom and power of using fifteen minutes, everyday. He loves playing the piano and he loves his teacher. His progress stalled, however, through the randomness of his practice. There was never enough time. Monday afternoons arrived and suddenly, or so it seemed, he had missed practicing. Cramming,  just before class, was unsatisfactory.

Consequently, we were, driving to piano class to see a teacher that Rowan loved, and he was in distress.

Where there is a problem, there are solutions. We looked at the facts.

  1. Rowan loved to play piano and he desired improvement.
  2. He was embarrassed when he wasn’t prepared.
  3. Mondays became stressful when he came home from school and discovered that sitting at the piano just before class didn’t work.
  4. He had obligations beyond school, so time was at a premium: enriched math, jiu jitsu and skiing.

After discussing various options he came up with a plan. He would practice 15 minutes every morning after breakfast, before leaving for school. Five days a week would do, and weekends were optional.

It is not an exaggeration to say this transformed his learning experience and his enjoyment. He noticed his improvement the very first week, as did his teacher. The progress is cumulative. Better music making; no more embarrassed moments; no Monday stress and heaps of personal satisfaction.

Consequently, Rowan drew his own conclusions that 15 minutes a day was more valuable than one hour once a week. He has never looked back. And when there is a reason to miss a day,  the impact is minimal compared to  missing the one hour time slot.

Guess what? Our brains also like these shorter bursts of habitual learning.

Neuropsychologist, Dr. Heather Palmer,  is an advocate of utilizing the 15 minutes.

“Don’t squander the 15 minutes,” she declares; “there are so many things you can do.” Time deceives us and we often think we need much bigger blocks of it to do anything. Yet, in fifteen minutes you can practice a musical instrument, pack one moving box, write a card or two, listen to a short podcast, write, read, sketch, tidy up the spice drawer, or walk around the block. Ordinary things that you want to do but never seem to have time for.

The popular language app Duolingo reminds participants that 15 minutes everyday is all they need to learn a language. My grand kids and I studied German over the summer and of course we didn’t become fluent but we had fun and we gained vocabulary. I have taken it up again but this time with Japanese. According to the research, mastering the language isn’t the important part. Exerting the effort everyday is what counts.

There are many things we want to get done, if only we had the time.

Fifteen minutes is not a formula. Yet,  I have re-discovered that 15 minutes a day makes a difference. I now keep a list of “15 minute” things that I want to do. Everything from re-organizing my books,  learning a language, gathering materials for a colleague, updating a slideshow, working on a presentation and playing the piano. Fifteen minute periods at a time, strung together over a month, yield surprising results.  It is one way to make/find time. Most importantly, by utilizing your fifteen minutes to start or continue something you want to do, you have the satisfaction of getting it done.

There is always 15 minutes. Use it while you can.

Note 1:What I’d like to say is this. Live fully every moment of your life. Do not wait for everything to be threatened before you realize the value of all you have.” From The Dr. Will Not See You Now, by Dr. Jane Poulson

Note 2: I wish you a good first week of March. We turn our clocks ahead this weekend, which is my first sign that spring is coming. Yeah!  Thanks  for stopping by. See you next week, Trudy

4 replies
  1. gottfried
    gottfried says:

    What a great reminder Trudy, I just did a rough calculation, which brings me to the conclusion that even at my current age of 73.5 I could end up playing some Liszt pieces in a few years time. Thanks to Rowan and his Nana


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