StPeterRome720by340My four and five year old daughters were playing and I heard one tell the other: “Argh! Let’s be pirates—but pirates who say please and thank you. We’ll be pirates with mannerisms.”

Those mannerisms. When they’re solid, they can see you through some tough times, even in your scallywag years, matey.

A mannerism I’m trying to cultivate for myself right now is: harness the power of fifteen minutes.

It was my Mom who first turned me onto it. I called her one morning after one of those long nights with little ones where I did a lot more walking and rocking than snoring, and she could tell by my voice how tired I was.

“When the kids take their naps this afternoon,” Mom told me, “be sure to lay down yourself.”

“I don’t know, Mom,” I said, “you know they go down at different times, and they stir, and they wake at different times, so I only end up with like fifteen minutes when everyone is asleep.”

“You’ll be surprised at what fifteen minutes can do for you!” Mom assured me. She told me the secrets to getting the most out of fifteen minutes with my eyes closed: (1) lay down; (2) take my shoes off; and, most important, (3) pray for double time (whereby every one minute of sleep has the rejuvenating power of two).

Well, since Mom raised nearly two basketball squads worth of progeny, most of them a year apart, I figured she just might know whereof she speaks. So I decided to give it a try—and it was heavenly! Not that a two-hour nap wouldn’t have been wonderful. But two hours isn’t always an option. And when it isn’t, fifteen minutes sure feels good—and a whole lot better than nothing. Especially if you get double time!

In fact, so salubrious and refreshing did I find the fifteen-minute naps, I decided to expand the fifteen-minute principle into other areas of my time-starved life. Next up was chores. We’ve got two kids in school, on different schedules, so I have multiple drop-offs and pick-ups, and consequently find myself at many points in the day running up on that awkward “in-between” time: too early to start getting ready to go, but not enough time to start something new. Or so I had thought previously. Now I decided to get started anyway and see what happened.

The results were astounding. A lot of things which I had thought would take way more time, and so figured there was no point in even beginning, actually got done in those odd ten- or fifteen-minute “between” times. And even when I couldn’t complete a job, having a chunk of the work done was nice when I came back to it later. Now it’s become my standard operating procedure, and a lot of things get done in two or three fifteen-minute sessions long before a bigger block of time ever appears.

I also started applying the fifteen-minute principle to fun stuff! Like writing. I enjoy writing posts and articles, but my time for working on them has dwindled with each new child added to our domestic mix, until a few years ago when it finally just about disappeared entirely. At least in the form of extended periods of (more or less) uninterrupted time. But there are still those odd ten or fifteen minutes that crop up here and there! So now I keep a notebook in my pocket and a computer where I can grab it when opportunity presents itself. And in the odd moments, like waiting in the car for a school pick-up, or sitting in the park between swing-pushing duties, or when all the kids are playing quietly, I’m able to type or scribble and keep a story percolating and moving forward, little by little. And it works!

So now I’ve become a big believer in the power of fifteen minutes. Rome wasn’t built in a day, it was built in fifteen minutes—fifteen minutes here, ten minutes there, all piled on top of each other.

As Scripture tells us: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might . . .” Eccl 9, 10.

It doesn’t say you have to do it all at once. Or all day long. Or even for an hour. It just says to give it your best, for whatever time you’ve got, even if it’s only fifteen minutes. And it’s amazing how the power of fifteen minutes can transform your days—especially when you pray for double time!

Copyright 2015 Jake Frost
Image/Art work:  Author:  Sivatalebi; Title/description:  St. Peter’s Basilica 02, The Photo was taken from Castel Sant’Angelo; Date:  3 February 2012; from, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unsuported license.