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There’s something curiously reassuring about 15 minutes.

Not too long, or too short, 15 minutes just fits the bill to help us to get something done, ticked off the list and fits into our chaotic daily schedule without adding too much extra stress or guilt.

So, what’s the magic of 15 minutes?

Err nothing actually. No, there isn’t any science (at least that I’ve come across) to suggest that 15 minutes is an especially mysterious or wondrous amount of time determined by some secret natural rhythm that only you and I are party to.

Although it does fit into the brain break time of 15-20 minutes that I advocate we practice in between our chunks of focused work, that follows the 90-minute ultradian energy cycle that pulses through our day.

It’s said that we have 96 parcels of 15 minutes available to us in any 24 hours. Before you head out to celebrate, let’s look at what you could usefully achieve in one of those fifteen-minute packets. You could…

  • Launch a rocket
  • Take a walk/run/swim/cycle ride
  • Put together a delicious meal (someone famous called Jamie Oliver wrote a cookbook for that)
  • Meditate
  • Phone a friend
  • Enjoy a coffee/tea/water sitting in your favourite café
  • Slowly consume a piece of high-quality dark chocolate
  • Read a chapter of your book-club book
  • Think

Quick question, do you allocate time each day just to think?

It’s one of the modern world’s peculiarities, that as we are getting busier, we’re taking less time out to press pause for that magic 15 minutes for quiet reflection and deeper thought.

Living on Planet Distraction where critical thinking is at a premium, choosing to come off autopilot, to disengage with the superficial headline-grabbing snippets that pose as news, permits greater debate, discourse and evaluation. Pausing to challenge our thoughts and beliefs helps to check in on their validity, and heightens self-awareness of bias or fixed mindset.

“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.” – Christopher Hitchens

What if we all used one of our 96 packets each day to consider and evaluate how we’re tracking towards our goals, solving some of the challenges we face and developed greater possibility-thinking?

Now that is the magic of taking fifteen.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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