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15-Minute Suffering

When it comes to a new and undesirable task, setting aside 15-minutes each day to tackle it is a good way to overcome the initial barriers. Maybe you are trying to change careers or start a new business – try spending just 15 minutes every day putting some effort into that project. I call these 15-minute suffering sessions.

I’ve used this for taxes, for learning about investing, learning how to blog, changing jobs, and when learning a new skill. 15-minute sessions at a time.

I’m using this 15-minute technique to improve my medical consulting skills. I’m learning about statistics, probabilities, advanced calculus, and data management in computer science. It’s a fucking grind but it’s getting more and more interesting the more I do it.


15-Minute Suffering

I call it 15-minute suffering because the task you’re about to get into likely isn’t eating a delicious baguette. You probably don’t know anything about the topic, don’t know how to get started, and don’t have someone to guide you through it.

Set a Timer

Setting a timer is important. When I start a new task, I don’t like spending more than 15 minutes on it because I know my brain shuts off and I get frustrated without realizing it.

Set the timer and change tasks after 15-minutes. If you still love it and want to get back to it, do it.

Overcoming Barriers

The point of this concept is to make it easier to overcome the barriers of starting something new. For me, the change in mindset is the hardest.

One of my current barriers is that I’m in retirement mode. I’m doing things slower and have a leisurely mindset. Switching from that to learning something new isn’t easy. But I can suffer for just 15 minutes a day if it means I’ll gain something out of the new experience.

Currently, I’m trying to learn a computer language and some advanced calculus in order to better market myself as a telehealth consultant. I can handle a 15-minute suffering session but that’s about it. Any more and I know I won’t get back to it.

I’ll list a few examples for implementing this 15-minute trick.

1. Changing Careers

Trying to change careers is best started by sitting down 15 minutes every day and writing out what skills you have. What things you could see yourself doing on a day-to-day basis. What things you definitely want to avoid in a new career and what things you could put up with.

The next day, another 15 minutes can be spent on finding the right search terms to type into LinkedIn and Indeed.

You would continue doing so for cleaning up your resume, sending in job applications, networking with others in your desired field, etc. Just 15 minutes at a time, one day at a time.

Each 15-minute suffering session gets more and more tolerable. You gain more insight which leads to more answers and info leads. That’s why this method is effective because it helps you overcome the initial barrier which usually are the toughest.

2. Starting a Business

I just finished a consulting call with a blog reader who, as a specialist, has decided to open a private practice and another medicine-related business on the side.

He reached out to figure out the next steps to take to grow the business. And together we came up with a bunch of things which he can do. Though exciting, he has his work cut out for him.

He’ll hopefully be utilizing these 15-minute suffering sessions to make those difficult phone calls. He’ll spend 15 minutes every day to grow the business instead of just focusing on earning money from current clients.

You can spend each 15-minute session to strategize growth, to standardize flows, to network with others, and to lower business overhead.

3. Organizing Finances

Medical professionals are busy bees. Just to sit down to do handle finances can be a huge undertaking. It’s that switch in mindset which is so taxing. Going from thinking about disease to juggling decimal points – totally different.

Each 15-minute suffering session can be spent to inventory your assets. That’s it, you sit down for 15 minutes, set the timer, log into accounts, and write on paper or into a spreadsheet how much you have in each account.

You do another 15-minute session and tabulate your debts. In the first session you might only have enough time to list each debt. The next time you might be able to write down the interest rate and duration for each.

Each 15-minute session will be a little easier than the next. You’ll have gotten into the flow of things and you’ll be more efficient with your start-stop times.

You’ll also notice that the 15-minute sessions get longer and longer. You’ll notice that with just 5 more minutes tacked on, you can get an exponential amount of work done.

4. Doing Taxes

I do my own taxes because nobody can save me as much as I can. And though I have been doing them for several years now, getting into the tax-mindset is difficult every year.

Sometime in December I reach into my documents drawer, I pull out my wad of statements, and I place it on my desk. That’s it. I don’t do shit otherwise. I just want them to be visible.

I then spend a 15-minute session to go through each document and write notes on it. I do the same with the online statements I have. That’s it, I stop there.

Finally, I get into the groove and the next few sessions all flow naturally. I log into my Turbotax account. I download bank statements. I go through my tax email folder.

By this time I have gotten into the groove and am following my tax preparation workflow.

When I go to enter all my info in Turbotax, I only do this for 15-minutes at a time as well. If I spend more time then I get frustrated. When I get frustrated then it’s less likely for me to return to doing my taxes in a timely manner – that’s when I procrastinate.

5. Learning Investing

Investing, even passive index investing, has a learning curve. And like any new topic to be learned, it can be hard getting started. I would spend your 15-minute suffering sessions watching YouTube videos. If that’s not your thing, then download free audio books or e-books from the library and learn about investing that way.

The first 15-minute minutes you can spend just getting an idea of what an investment is. What’s a speculative investment and what are securities. Investing in individual stocks or investing in all-in-one funds.

The next 15-minutes you can learn about real estate investing. Maybe that’s a better option for you compared to securities.

The next 15 minutes can be spent on building a sample portfolio which you track once a week.

6. Planning Your Retirement

Once you’ve learned about investing and have a good idea of what returns you can expect, you can spend 15 minutes planning your retirement.

The first 15-minutes could be writing out what it would be like when you’re 45 or 65 and retired. How much money would you need? Where would you want to live? What would you want to do with your time?

7. Your Divorce

I got divorced in 2012 and though it was mutual and civil, it was on me to handle the divorce paperwork. I didn’t know shit about it but I started with 15-minute sessions.

The first 15-minute session was just to validate my emotions. To make sure I was ready for this and that it was something I wanted to go through with. Once that was out of the way, the next 15-minute session was spent googling shit in order to figure out the entire divorce process.

Each session got longer as I got more and more comfortable with it. But whenever a new task came up, such as filling out the California paperwork, I only would spend 15 minutes at a time.

8. Writing a Blog Post

Some blog posts come easy to me but most require a lot of research and work. I still only spend 15 minutes at a time on each blog post and then do something else.

Some posts I work on over several weeks, just 15-minutes at a time. I have 420 draft posts which I’m working on. I spend 15 minutes on one and then close it. Then I open another blog post and work another 15 minutes on that one, and so on.

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