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Twenty Minute Rule

Whenever I would come home from a long day at work or school, I was so tired the only things I could find energy to do were mindless life-negating nonsense-- television, Netflix, Reddit, Facebook, whatever.

Every night I would somehow find hours of time to do these things (despite being extremely tired), suddenly get a burst of energy towards midnight, stay up way too late, and then get extremely tired the next morning. This cycle would repeat until the weekend, where I would stay up too late on Sunday, and be tired the following Monday. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Several years ago, I replaced this nightmarish routine with the twenty minute rule. Now, the moment I get home, I force myself to do at least twenty minutes of one of the following-- write an article, read a book, practice chess, learn another language with DuoLingo (I try to do this on my phone, not laptop to minimize the risk of distraction), practice guitar, meditate, work on a computer programming language, or improve flexibility with stretching. Customize the activities to suit your interests, but this should generally not involve any computers.

Once you get passed that twenty minute commitment, you will find that you have the energy to keep going. Over the course of a couple weeks, you will have finished a book -- which, for many people, will be the first time they have done so in a long time.

If you simply don't have energy to continue past twenty minutes, or to even start the twenty minutes-- GO TO SLEEP. There is precisely no benefit to watching Netflix until you pass out from exhaustion, only to be tired the next day. You need to make it a habit: don't have energy? Go to sleep. Do have energy? Spend it making yourself better.

Evan DeFilippis

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