The 20 Minute Rule – How to Tackle Your To-Do List Consistently

So I went online to read about the 20 minute rule. Basically, it means that you spend 20 minutes on something for at least 30 days consistently so that you turn it into a habit. However, that is not the only benefit about this rule.

With so much tasks on my daily to-do list and never having enough time to do them all, I became a bit frustrated. That is why I decided to experiment a little bit with this rule. All my most important tasks are now divided into 20 chunks. I work 20 minutes on each task before I move to the next one. 20 times 20 boils down to 400 minutes of work. That’s about 6.5 hours of work in which I can spend attention to all my tasks and goals. If there is enough time and energy left in the day, then I start the cycle again from the beginning.

It is certainly challenging as 20 minutes is not a lot of time in which you can work on a task. However, small pieces of work done daily and consistently add up over time. What’s more, not doing them at all because of being unorganized, to busy or out of time is a lot worse.

Another benefit of the 20 minute rule is that you push yourself to work faster. You really want to round something up in that short amount of time that you have. It might take a day before you see that task again, so dwelling on it for an undefined length of time is no option. Can’t get it done but feel a strong urge to continue? That’s a good sign as it means you’re motivated. Stop and save that motivation for the next round or the next day.

And if you don’t feel motivated to do a task? Then this method might be great for you as well. 20 minutes is a small enough time chunk to get through anything, even if it is the most dreadful or boring task in the history of tasks. If it would be 60 minutes, you would feel a stronger need to procrastinate. So start now by dividing your daily to-do list in chunks of 20 minutes and notice the increase in your productivity and your results.

Don’t forget to take really short breaks between tasks to reset your mind. Also, insert a bigger break after a couple of task sessions so that your mind doesn’t get too exhausted. Having frequent breaks will increase your productivity as well.

Unending Travels Or Quick Bursts Of Movements?

It has been awhile since my last post. A lot has happened during that time.

I collaborated with the friendly people of Working Traveler. They asked me why I live in Bangkok and if I could answer some questions about living in this hectic city. You can read the interview here. Be aware! It might inspire you to grab your bags and head over to Thailand for your own writing and traveling adventure.

I also kept learning. Recently, my focus has been strongly on learning how to save time and being more productive. I got motivated to study these topics after a trip to Laos. The purpose of my travel was a visa run and I decided to travel with a minivan.

The visa run took three days. During these days, I was barely able to work, and I got tired from sitting in the minivan for 8 hours to Laos and for 8 hours back to Bangkok. When I came home, I was totally out of my rhythm and I felt like I had kicked my health in the gut with bad food, stress cigarettes, grumpiness and a lack of sleep. It took me another full day to recover. Another working day wasted.

It was at that moment that I realized something very important: time is more valuable than money!

I could have chosen to fly to Laos, instead of taking the minivan. Instead of traveling for around 16 hours, it would have taken me only two hours. The price would be higher, but now I believe that it would have actually saved me more money in the end, because I would not be so tired, could go back to work much quicker and would have less stress.

Sometimes The Cheapest Option Is Not Always The Best One

You might spend a bit more money, but remember that if you travel faster and more convenient, you are able to get back to work much quicker and more rested. The extra costs are then easily earned back.

What is your choice when you travel? Do you choose the cheaper option or do you spend a little bit more to save time and make the trip convenient and quick?

Travel Possessions From a Minimalist

The Bangkok skyline at sunset - Beautiful mental travel possessions.

He strolls over the paths of the earth with only a few travel possessions. In his bag, you will not find a camera, souvenirs, guidebooks or an extra pair of toenail clippers. Because of his love for mild climates, he also does not need much clothes to keep him warm, after the sun sells him the stars. Sometimes, he does not even wear shoes. At those moments, he likes to stroll on the pleasant sand of a beach, dipping his toes in the warm, late afternoon sand and watching the wind chase golden colored waves onto the shore, that is enough to make him happy.

He does not need expensive cameras, smartphones or gasoline gobbling vehicles to make his vacation worthwhile. Instead, he values conversations, eye contact, a simple handshake and a smile. He likes to experience these valuable human interactions while he walks to his next destination.

The first and most important thing that he left behind before the start of his journey, was the idea that money keeps you on the road. However, there is so much more to see when you travel with less speed and spend less money. He learned to appreciate his feet. They are the ones who keep him moving, while his eyes, nose and ears keep him moved.

The longer he travels, the less important the destination becomes. Instead, the journey itself, rises in value. Movement is freedom, standing still is a prison. For him, it stand for the accumulation of possessions, prejudices and valuables. But now he has thrown those things away and he is liquid once again. More and more, his possessions become possessions of the mind. These assets feel lighter, better, exciting.

He loves how the smell of exotic food tempts him to embark on yet another culinary adventure, how the sun rays suddenly break through the clouds and roll over a rice field, adding an extra brush of gold to that intriguing green color of the rice plants, how the afternoon chanting prayers at a nearby Buddhist temple put a calming vibe to his mind and to the remaining part of the day.

At every new experience, he feels like a child again. A child without worries about house repairs, mortgages, student loans, a complaining boss, a continuously growing mountain of work or a continuously lessening amount of free time.

Instead, his focus is mostly captured by the moment. He looks, wonders and fills his mind with memories instead of worries. These memories accumulate rapidly but they feel as light as a breeze in comparison to the heavy worries that he used to carry around. Now, he possesses so much less, but at the same time, so much more.

Adventures Of The Mind – The Mental Descent


Adventures of the mind - The mental descent Adventures of the mind – a  mental dive –

In my previous article I talked about the challenging mental roads, which lead us to the highest peaks. Reaching these peaks makes us feel great, because we completed a challenge. On the top we are rewarded with the clear views of vision, success and understanding. The road ahead is the road to the top. However, when we travel there is another path that we will have to take.

That path often provides an unclear view. It is the road with the shadows. The one that shows us what we left behind. The previous road led us to the mountaintops .
This one will lead us through dark and old forests, or large and deep oceans. It is another, different challenge that we have to deal with.

An ocean full of mental creatures 

While travelling, we sometimes plunge into deep mental oceans full of interesting creatures. They have familiar yet uncomfortable names like homesickness, love, freedom and regret. We where once connected with these creatures, before they decided to dive deeper into the depths of our minds. They got out of reach, and we did not have the capacity or courage to pull them back to the surface.

The mental creatures carry along memories of a long since forgotten past. Memories which, like their carriers, have sunken to the depths of our mind. Now that we are descending, we are able to catch them again. The deepest part of our mind is a magical world. One from which we can not easily escape, once we dive into it.

No clear direction

Will we stay in these depths forever, swimming around without a clear direction? On the top of the mountain we had a choice. We could see our next goal on the horizon, and we could only take the path down to get there. But here, in this dark and deep ocean, we can’t see clear. We can go in any direction, without knowing which is the right one.

What are we going to do with the creatures that we are chasing? Do we let freedom run wild, embrace home-sickness or call for forgiveness? We can let them escape again, but then they might flee to even deeper parts of our brain. Maybe it is better if we hold on to the creatures, so that we can study them. Only then will we be able to fully understand what they are.

Nasty creatures 

However, maybe these creatures are supposed to be free, so that they can choose their own course in the inner pool of our thoughts. Sometimes it is a relief to to let them go. The nasty ones bite, scratch and crawl. But then again, maybe those are the ones that we have to treasure the most. They make us feel uncomfortable, but we need that feeling in order to grow mentally.

Which mental creatures are you chasing or discovering in the depths of your brain? Do you know what to do with them once they are captured? Are you on an ascending path, or are you in the process of descending to the deepest and unknown parts of your brain? What is your view on these adventures of the mind?

Useful links

  • Mental Travel Adventures: An article about mental adventures that lead us to the highest peaks instead of the deepest oceans. Going up and going doing are equally important challenges when we want to experience mental growth.
  • The Inner Travel Guide: This is a book from Andrena Woodhams. Are you struggling to find a calm place in all the chaos? This travel guide takes the reader to a place where it is always safe and peaceful. Actually, this destination is already connected to us. We carry it with us like the home of a snail. We only need to learn where we can crawl inside. Andrena will guide us with this book.
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Mental Travel Adventures – The Ascent


We not only climb mountains in nature but also during a mental travel challengeOf the beaten path – mental travel adventures –

Travelers are always looking for something. We wander off in search for a beach, the sun or a vibrant city. However, many long journeys tend to reveal more then just the end destination. By travelling, we might discover different things then we initially expected or wished for. We do not only find these discoveries in the physical world, but also in our mental world. Some of them will change us forever.

Experienced travelers are aware of the strong mental process that occurs during long journeys. While planning their next journey, they might not embark on a search for beaches and palm trees. Their explorations become more ambitious, and they start to search for important life changing experiences. Travel becomes their cure whenever they experience negative thoughts like narrow-mindedness or prejudice. They also become social doctors when they inspire other people with similar negative thoughts.

Travel transforms us into different human beings, and how different are we already when narrow-mindedness and other negative thoughts leave our mind. Their is simply no place for them, and we realize that once we start traveling. Changes in the way we think, can occur quickly when we are detached from our safe habitat.

The mental ascent

The more I travel in the physical world, the more I begin to understand that the real important transformation lies is the journey of the mind. And when it comes to that, we all travel. However, it depends on our willingness to step out of our comfort zone, if our mental path becomes a dull flat ride or an adventurous and challenging climb to the top of a high mountain.

We need to step out of our comfort zones and climb those mental mountains. It is at the tops of those mountains that we will have the best view about our lives. The top also provides a view at other climbable peaks. Then we most likely want to climb them as well. We become addicted to the challenge. It will become our mental fuel. It is at those moments that we become the journey.

Travel has become an addiction. We take the first step and then there will be a next one and a next one. But the road does not always goes up. After we reach the top, we eventually have to come down again. New challenges arise. Our paths can become increasingly difficult, once we embark on a serious mental journey.

Mental travel journeys. Climbing your inner mountain.

What comes up must go..

Simple and flat physical roads, which have led us to tropical beaches and beautiful sunsets, now transform into much more challenging mental paths. They become curving and crawling roads, complicated intermingled knots, which not only lead us to the highest tops but also to the inner depths of our minds. And it is at those depths that we will discover a whole lot of other important aspects about our minds.

Are you climbing a mental mountain at the moment? What kind of mental discoveries are you experiencing during your climb? Did you already reach the top? What became clear when you reached that mental peak? Maybe you are already on your way down? I would also love to hear what your experiences are regarding to that mental process.

Useful Links

  • Annette Birkmann: I got really inspired when reading about the adventures of this brave lady. That is why I started reading her blog. She often writes about the mental challenges that we all face during our lives and during our travels. I definitely recommend her blog and website to everyone.
  • Why adventure travel is good for your mind: When doing research about the subject of mental changes during travel, I found this nice slide from an adventure company. It describes 10 reasons why adventure travel is good for your mental health. I especially like number 10, which describes how an adventurous trip can effectively change negative habits.
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