20 focused minutes

Sometimes with the holidays coming on, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with everything you want or need to do along with all the normal stuff.  I’ve found that if I focus on it 20-minute segments, I can stay positioned atop the heap of to-do’s instead of buried underneath.

Start by making a list to pin down that swirl in your brain.  It calms your mind and helps you establish your priorities. I try to make a list at least once a week.  Then I go down that list and designate days to work on each item, aiming to do no more than 3 ‘extra’ things each day.

Then I divide the to-do’s into 20 minute tasks.  It might look something like:

1. Spend 20 minutes brainstorming gifts for three people on my list.

2. Look for two gift ideas online.  (I try to support local businesses when I can, but I adore online shopping too.)

3. Wrap 3 gifts. (I think my new gift wrap station will make this even easier!)

4. Make one double batch of cookie dough.  Bake 1/3 and freeze 2/3 0f the recipe for later.

5.  Spend 20 minutes decorating one small corner of the house.


This kind of thing works really well for longer projects too. For example, if I’m making a bunch of jeans potholders, I’ll divide the job into 20-minute tasks like this:

1. Gather old jeans and cut into squares.

2. Cut quilt batting and backer fabric into squares.

3. Sew 2 potholders. (Repeat for several days til I’ve made as many as I’d like to make.)

The down side of doing projects in short bursts is that I’ll probably leave my sewing machine out during those 5 days to save time, and sometimes the mess gets aggravating.  But doing a project a little each day is way better than never getting the project out in the first place because you know you don’t have 2 hours to devote to the project.

This approach works for planning a big holiday meal too.  In fact, any big job broken down into smaller tasks will feel more doable.

Do you have more holiday organizing hints?  Please share below.  I’m always eager to find more ways to streamline and simplify this busy time of year.


  1. Great idea! I should really make the time to spend at least 20 minutes (or so) everyday organizing my digital pictures. Might actually make a dent in them!

  2. Yvonne, I spent half an hour the other night just sorting photos into years. In another time block, I’ll look at 2012 pix and sort by month, and then back up files again once I have some semblance of order. And SOME day I’ll reorganize my second hard drive, where I back up files. Since I back up several times a year (often before organizing) I have utter chaos there!