The KISS Principle:
HOW 20 MINUTES A DAY CAN CREATE MIRACLES/HOW TO STAY SANE IN THE RUN UP TO EXAMS
What lights your fire and what makes you feel overwhelmed? I am really brave about some things, and yet apparently simple things floor me.
I actually like things to be clean and tidy, but my mother always used to say that I could reduce a room to chaos within five minutes of entry, and that is certainly true of my cooking practices, sadly.
So something as simple as a chaotic kitchen could make me feel utterly incapable and for an astonishing number of years, I would feel an overwhelming urge to sit down and ‘rest’ before tackling the mess. Multiply that by all the rooms in the house, and something that many people would deal with without thinking, and before they started what they would call ‘work’, became a mountain in my mind and stopped me from doing all sorts of interesting things because I had to ‘sort the house’. Even as I write this, I can hardly believe I am saying it, but it’s true, unfortunately.
My point though, is that I found the solution, and it is one that works for a myriad of other things that might feel initially overwhelming, so it falls very neatly into the KISS principle: –
KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID.
20 minutes seems to be a magical number. I have noticed that two very trendy techniques – Mindfulness, and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) work on the assumption that participants will spend 20 minutes a day practising.
So I decided to apply this principle to house tidying and found it worked a treat. I put my alarm on and decided to see what I could get done in 20 minutes, feeling that was manageable. Amazingly, clearing a kitchen after dinner took only about 3-6 minutes on an ordinary evening.
The other way that daily 20 minutes works miracles, is that once you have started, and see how much you can accomplish in 20 minutes, you often feel inspired to do more. I keep putting the alarm on for another 20 minutes, and now I often practise my piano for up to an hour, where before I just wouldn’t even start.
APPLYING THIS PRINCIPLE TO STUDYING
Studying for exams, especially in ‘big swot’ topics like history and science, can seem overwhelming and I know there are times when my daughter doesn’t know where to start, so she doesn’t. There is a verse in the Bible (sorry but I grew up as a fundamentalist evangelical Christian and some things just stick) that says ‘A Prophet has no honour in his own country’, which in this case means that I haven’t really been able to persuade my daughter to apply this principle to her studies. If any of you try it out and find it works, please tell her!!
Anyway, next time you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t want to do anything, I challenge you to just allow yourself 20 minutes, and just study something – anything. Even if you don’t carry on and do more, I’m betting that if you keep practising that principle every time you feel like that, you will have done a shed load more than you would otherwise have done by the time it gets to exams.
Me, I decided there were three things that I needed to give 20 minutes to in order to stay sane – that’s still only one hour out of 24. These are my three –
MEDITATION: I can’t maintain the level of sensitivity I need to do the work I do without taking care of energy.
HOUSEWORK: Well I have said it already
PIANO PRACTISE: Because that is something I really want to learn but have spent years just not getting on with…
What I am observing is that when I don’t manage all three, I quickly notice how things are getting out of hand, but it prompts me to get back to my daily rhythm and stops me spiralling out of control. And believe me, I know what out of control feels like and it’s not something I enjoy or recommend!
So good luck with making some miracles and actually enjoying your learning and studying rather than feeling you have to be mega stressed.
If any of you dare, I would love to hear what things benefit from the 20 minute daily treatment for you.