Find 15 Minutes, Even When You Have No Time

I gave a client of mine a VERY tough challenge in our first call. It made her twinge and squirm “just enough” that I knew it would start her out in the direction she was seeking.

I offer it to you as well… are you ready? This is for the DOERS in the group. For those whose schedules are jam-packed because… PRODUCTIVITY! And being productive means being in action, doing some-thing. This is for those who have NO TIME.

Here it is:

At some point in the day, stop, sit down with a cup of tea (or wine if you wish) and … do nothing for 15 minutes. No book, no magazine, no cereal box, no food, no music, no podcast. Nothing. Cat/dog/ in the lap— OK.

Put a timer on for 15 minutes and simply observe:

Your thoughts

Your squirming

Your feelings of needing to do SOMETHING

Your feelings of feeling like you’re being unproductive and therefore… (fill in the blanks)

Your impulses to stand up and DO SOMETHING

Your breathing

Your relief that you DON’T have to do anything.

Your discovery that you actually like this. Or really hate it…

Don’t write any of this down… just sit.


Repeat this for 12 days. In a row.

Yes, I heard you freak out just a little! That’s OK. I did, too!

For awhile, and perhaps a long while, this will make you feel very uncomfortable. And weird. This is good.

Stay with it. No matter what. Cringe and squirm and stand up and down and walk around in a circle. Grunt or yell. Notice how much noise you’re making in this quiet 15 minutes of nothing. Brain noise, emotional noise, physical noise.

AFTER the 15 minute Do Nothing session, you can journal or write some notes. Or get up and do something productive…

My clients complain they have no time. They want more time freedom. There isn’t enough time.

There is. We all have 24 hours— just like Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Mother Theresa, Michelle Obama, Helen Keller, Einstein.

This IS time. We simply make weird and wonderful choices in how to make use of the time given us. Some lead us forward; other uses are distractions and derailers.

One of my teachers said,

“There is no time at all and all the time in the world.”

And this is what I believe: that daily quiet time gives us the opportunity to listen deeply, hear our inner voice; quiet time allows us to openly view our lives, honestly and clearly. Spending quiet time, alone, gives your mind an opportunity to re-boot, to re-set, to find itself a new order.

Here are 5 ways to put 15 minutes of quiet time into your day.

  1. End your work day 15 minutes early. If you need to set a reminder for this, do so. Have the tea ready to pour. Put everything down and turn everything off. Shut the door if you need to. Put a sign up if necessary. Here’s a sample sign:

I’m taking 15 minutes of silence to end my day.

If you are on fire, call 911. If the building is on fire, call 911 and pull the alarm if it’s not ringing already. I’ll hear it.

Other than that… if the police have come to the door and look really serious, please interrupt me.

Ditto Justin or Sophie Trudeau, Blake Shelton, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen, Rick Mercer, anyone from Dragon’s Den or any of my family (although they’ll completely understand.)

  1. Schedule it. Literally put it in your calendar like you do your meetings, lessons, kids’ soccer and date nights. It can be anytime of the day. Treat that space with respect. It is sacred time.
  2. Get in to work early. When I was teaching, I would get to school earlier than everyone. If the weather was crappy, I’d go down to the gym where there were few distractions, and do qi gong. During the season when I didn’t bike to work, I’d get off the bus one stop early, which happened to be at a park, and do qi gong there. When I rode… I’d stop as well.
  3. Get out of your office during lunch. Too many of us sit at our desks, eating and working. Not only is this bad for digestion, it’s bad for productivity, it’s messy and your energy tanks.
  4. Cut out TV, social media scrolling, internet surfing. We all know it’s a huge time black hole. Turn your screens off by 9. Use a timer for ‘free time internet time.’ I practiced piano for an hour a day. It was a limited time. Apply that principle to your screen time-wasters. 15 minutes. BAM! Easy Peasy.
  5. Let a little housework, laundry, cooking or yard work go. Just 15 minutes of it. Get someone else in the house to do it. If you are alone, get someone in to help. Nothing will blow up.


What Will Happen?

No one will die or be injured. You will arrive at the end of 15 minutes fully intact. Also more relaxed, feeling less stressed. And you will be more creatively and productive around the RIGHT things.

Over time, with this practice, your breathing will begin to slow down. The cray cray of the concrete mind will calm down. And a miracle will happen. Time and space will appear. Out of thin air. You will create time for yourself.

More importantly, your inner voice will start to speak—quietly and slowly at first, because you’ve probably spent a pile of hours listening to outside influences and voices and shoulds and what ifs and why don’t you’s and here’s another to-do list and shutting this poor inner voice down.

Over time, another voice will be heard. The one that wants to feel a certain way at the end of the day—or the week— or your life. The Voice of Wisdom (and we all have it) that truly knows who are are becoming. The Voice that Knows what is needed next. For YOUR next steps on YOUR journey.

And THAT is the voice that you must TRUST will come forward. That is the voice that we all want to hear. That inner, truer, subtler voice, which may come through really loudly (as in “FINALLY! You’ve got enough space to HEAR me! THANK YOU!).

The Challenge?

The challenge will be to know which is the inner voice and which is the outer. It’s tough, I can tell you. It’s hard to really distinguish between what you think or wish were the inner voice and what truly is. In fact, we may not ever hear entirely the ‘true’ inner voice. It may take us into the next lifetime or the one after that. But we can all become more attuned to a truer inner voice.

That, my friends, will take time.

For now, go back to the beginning.

Make a commitment to sitting still, in silence, for 15 minutes. Breathe and follow the breath. Experience the sensation of your body on the chair. Dream, friends, dream! And Listen.

And let me know what happened! Or didn’t.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *