ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Motivate, Modify, and Makeover in Just 15 Minutes a Day

Updated on March 17, 2015
One potato, two potato, three potato
One potato, two potato, three potato | Source

Follow the Three Potato Rule

Sounds like a formula for an infomercial.

Nevertheless, the most significant change that most people need to make is to stop procrastinating, or One Potato.

The second is to allocate your energies towards organizing your home and life. I call this the Possession Purging Process, Two Potato.

The third objective of the Three Potato Rule is that you compensate yourself.

Tackle Your Dreaded Jobs like Peeling Potatoes in the Army

I had a very good friend assigned to work in a kitchen during his basic training; not what a college graduate expected to do.

In 1967, the Army did not use instant potatoes, so his job was to peel eight 50-pound bags of potatoes during his shift.

Most days he dreaded going to work. An old timer took pity on him and told him to turn his stool around, move the potato bag close to the back of his stool, and reach for a potato without turning around.

The old timer told him, “You only peel one potato at a time; no sense looking at all of them, it’s overwhelming.”

Do you have tasks that you put off because you tell yourself there's not enough time to complete the task?

See results

People Procrastinate For a Number Of Reasons:

  • They are afraid they will do something incorrectly or wrong
  • They believe that others will judge their efforts
  • They believe something cannot be done without a lot of effort
  • They are waiting to be inspired or for the “right” moment to do something
  • They believe that if they do it well, expectations on them will increase
  • They believe they do not have enough time to do it
  • They would rather be doing something else
  • They spend more time on a pros and cons for doing something than actually doing it
  • They do not know how to do something
  • They create lists of what they need to do, as if they cannot see what needs doing
  • They spend more time on their lists, than it would take them to do the task
  • They are ambivalent about doing something
  • They are “not in the mood” to do something
  • They typically wait until the last minute
  • They believe in the myth of working best under pressure
  • They have no comprehension or clear idea of how long a task will take to complete
  • They “forget” to do something

“When faced with two equally tough choices, most people choose the third choice: to not choose.
” ― Jarod Kintz, This Book Title is Invisible

Regardless of the reasons for the procrastination, people will oftentimes feel guilty for not getting something done.

So, how do you overcome the procrastination and prevent the guilt?

Getting Things Done: Efficiently and Effectively

1) Decide What Motivates You the Most

Money motivates many people. Payment for a job done well is a deciding factor in most employment/employee relationships. Individuals understand that they must adhere to a certain level of performance in order to sustain their employment.

Using this same rationale in your personal life can help you make dreaded tasks easier to accomplish. If money has value for you and is important to you, pay yourself to do the tasks you balk at and put off.

Spend it or save it, you earned it
Spend it or save it, you earned it | Source

Remember the concept of an allowance; taking out the trash was worth a quarter. Given inflation, you might net $5.00 for that task today.

At that rate, if you work 15 minutes a day for seven days, you would pay yourself $35.00. For the month, you would pay yourself $140.00.

Is Money Tight and You Cannot Afford to Pay Yourself?

Then take 15 minutes to do something you like without feeling guilty.

  • Reading a book
  • Reading online
  • Playing a game with your family
  • Playing a game online
  • Taking a walk

The point it to pay yourself by whatever means you have at your disposal to feel rewarded for doing the dreaded tasks.

Three Potato Secret

  • One: Stop Procrastinating
  • Two: Purge Possessions
  • Three: Pay yourself

Modify How You Spend Your Time

2) Make a commitment to modify how and why you spend your time; not doing what you usually do.

“How often do you find yourself saying, “In a minute”, “I’ll get to it” or “Tomorrow’s good enough” and every other possible excuse in the book? Compare it with how often you decide it’s got to be done, so let’s get on and do it! That should tell you just how serious your procrastinating problem really is.” ― Stephen Richards, Overcoming Procrastination

Many people are unaware of how they spend their time just that it is fleeting. Yet, we all have the same amount of time in any given day, 24 hours exactly. However, people who procrastinate have difficulty deciding how to spend their time efficiently.

Do you see from this Article that you actually do have time to complete a dreaded task?

See results

Makeover Your Schedule

3) Time Management is a problem for many people. Make over your schedule to reflect your new priority.

Stop putting off doing small things towards the larger goal because of the illusion that there is not enough time to get something done correctly.

Most of us have 15 minutes to get it started towards correcting something.

For help in overcoming procrastination and clutter, block out 15 minute each day to tackle the largest most objectionable tasks.

Then follow through with the task.

If you only work 15 minutes a day, you can get 1 hour and 45 minutes of concentrated work per week towards your project or 7 hours per month.


You Work on the Task for 15 Minutes Each Day of the Week

Spend 15 minutes a day performing your most dreaded task.

“Someday is not a day of the week.”
― Janet Dailey

Your Trash-Their Treasure

Most people have possessions that do not continue to serve their purpose; they no longer help you stay organized or they no longer fit your new décor.

Of course, there are things that you still have an emotional attachment to that do not serve a purpose and to some, they simply take up space. Each of us has knick-knacks from a relative that we cannot bring ourselves to get rid of, typically out of guilt.

So what do most of us do with this stuff? We put it away, box it up, shove it in a closet, or in some way, try to hide it or store it.

Then we run out of space for the things that should actually be in the basement, garage or closet.

We may even buy decorative baskets or boxes so that the hidden object now fits our look, but what purpose does the disguised object serve?

Clutter Causes Conflict

There is a reason that the shows depicting the conflict that hoarding causes makes people uncomfortable or gives them a false sense of security about their own clutter.

If the crew of Hoarders has not knocked on your door, how bad can it be is becoming a familiar catch phrase, however, the clutter is still building up, people cannot find what they need when they need it and clutter causes us to be late.

Make a D-Day Beginning

D-day is the first day that you tackle the Dreaded Task. For some people, the basement and garage seem too big to tackle first, so start with the closets.

Grab trash bags and four cardboard moving boxes. If you have a family that contributes to the clutter, have a bag ready for each of them.

One box is for donations, one box is for you or your family member to decide, within a week, if you can emotionally release this object, another box is your Trash to Cash Box and the fourth is for recycling.

Possession Purging

Go from room to room and collect all those things that you have not worn in a year, no longer fit, or are outdated. They go into the donation or Trash to Cash box.

Someone will benefit from them. When you have no clothes, fashion is not a high priority; ask any survivor of a hurricane or tornado. Become familiar with donation sites in your area, or nationally.

If it is trash, put it in the trash bag, and when it is full, take it to the side of the road or put in the a larger container for pick-up, or put it in your trunk to haul off.

Recycle all of your papers and other materials that fit this category.

Trash to Cash Sale in Progress
Trash to Cash Sale in Progress | Source

Trash to Cash: Only Keep it a Month until Your Sale

If you know you will have a yard, garage or basement sale, and money motivates you, the Trash to Cash Box is an effective way to organize; however, it only stays if you will have the sale within a limited period, no more than a month.

You Realize That You Will Not Have a Sale, but Want to Make Money

Inquire about consignment sales, resale stores, and pawnshops. A good article is The Beginner’s Guide to Consignment Stores, Thrift Shops and More.

This article gives you resources for creative approaches to earning money from your unwanted and unnecessary items.

Recycle when you can and what you can
Recycle when you can and what you can | Source

You will find some items that can be recycled but not donated. Papers that do not need to be kept for the IRS or your accountant can be recycled.

Put these items in a box labeled Recycling and put out on the correct day or take to a pick up point in your area.

Many people are not aware of what can be recycled. Learn what can be recycled and the benefits of recycling.

Fulfill your 15 minutes; see how you feel, and if you are pleased, you can add 15 more minutes.

Pay yourself when you have finished. Spend it on something that you see as a reward or save it.

Even if it takes you the month to accomplish your task, you will feel better with it organized.

© 2013 Marilyn L Davis


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MDavisatTIERS profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilyn L Davis 

      3 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Homeplace Series; yes, it's about goals. However, we both know that the word, goal, is intimidating for some. Or sounds like too much work, or something like's out there somewhere and sometime. For immediate rewards, the 15 minute works does the job of getting people to do something.

      I appreciate your comments. ~Marilyn

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Nice variations on Goal Setting. I know that works. That is what your suggestions are working towards. Well-stated. Thanks for sharing! ;-)

    • MDavisatTIERS profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilyn L Davis 

      3 years ago from Georgia

      Good afternoon, Au fait; congratulations on the purging, sorting, donating and the resolve to do it again. I'm impressed, and your detailed account adds to the article. Thank you.

      Taxes are not my favorite thing either. And you are right, the IRS will notify you of a problem. Except I don't think they tell you if you miscalculated more money due in a refund, although I might be incorrect. ~Marilyn

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      3 years ago from North Texas

      I just sorted and disposed of at least 2/3 of everything I owned about 3 months ago. Most went to charity and I sold a handful of things. A few things went in the trash because after years of storage they hand fallen apart or otherwise been damaged. I'm thinking of going over everything again and getting rid of even more. Clutter is depressing for me. I don't have a clutter problem anymore. :)

      Some very good ideas here. The thing that slows me down on things other than clutter is having to learn how to do something that seems so complicated -- like taxes. But I think I've got my return ready to mail except for making copies, etc. I've done my own return for years, but this is the second year I've had to do a 1040 instead of a 1040EZ and after learning to do it last year things were changed up by the gov. this year, so I had to learn all over again. Not sure it's right, but one thing is certain. If it isn't, the IRS will let me know, guaranteed. ;)

      Agree that if a person knows what it is that's causing their procrastination they can usually counter it somehow.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilyn L Davis 

      3 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, DJ; thank you for those kind words. I just finished my 15 minutes. I try to follow my own advice; don't always accomplish it but today I did. ~Marilyn

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 

      3 years ago

      Hello, Marilyn,

      Great tips for getting those pesky jobs started and completed.

      Many tasks can be conquerable when taken in small units.

      A willing attitude and a positive outlook can change the world.

      Super hub!


    • MDavisatTIERS profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilyn L Davis 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, DzyMsLizzy 23; thank you for commenting. I know that the emotions are always heightened when we are going through a deceased family member's things. I experienced the same thing with both my mother and father. Although I could not deal with more than one box at a time, so that was all I got out of the two bedrooms full of boxes of their belongings; and this after my sister and I spent days trying to sort, cagegorize and keep it together. I would encourage you to tackle one box at a time. ~Marilyn

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Very sage advice. I'm one of the world's worst procrastinators, and I have used several of the 'excuses' in your list at the top; "I don't have time; I'm not in the mood; I can't make up my mind which to tackle first; I'd rather do something else..." and so on.

      Closets and boxes and stuff, oh my! I am currently struggling (emotionally) with unloading a lot of my mother's things for which I have no use. I need to start selling stuff off. (She's been gone since 1998, but it was unexpected, and I was in shock, walking through life like a zombie for about 3 years after.) I don't have a lot of room to spread stuff out to sort--it has to get done from start to finish at one sitting, lest it gets tripped over, or the cats get into it. (Cats + boxes of stuff = chaos.) That is my main hangup, I suppose..there is nothing that can be started and finished within 15 minutes. Much of it will take a minimum of a couple of hours, for a single box, as I make gut-wrenching decisions.

      So, I sit here and write, and the boxes are in the closet, out of sight; out of mind. :(

      The irony is, I already knew all of the things you point out. ... I just can't seem to get a fire lit under myself. (Health issues, both my husbands and my own, have played a large part. I'm emotionally drained, with no reserves.)

      I like the potato story--it reminds me of a mental trick I used to play on myself in my more fit days. When weeding a long patch of garden, I'd start in the center and work to one end, leaving only half to finish. It seemed like less to do than starting at one end and having ALL THAT to finish....

      Nonetheless, voted up, awesome and interesting.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilyn L Davis 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Good Morning, Kathryn. Thank you for the comments. I appreciate the sharing and pinning. I am like you, 15 minutes becomes 20 or 30 before I know it and then I can give myself a small pat on the back. That is unless I turn around and see all those potatoes.....~Marilyn

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image


      5 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This is a great article, full of handy tips and advice. It's easier to knock out large tasks by doing it in 15 minute increments. I have found that sometimes once I start, I get on a roll, and don't want to stop for quite a while.

      I like your "three potato" rule, and how you tied in your theme with the closing story about peeling potatoes in the army. It's a very cohesive piece!

      Voted up, pinning, and sharing.

      Thank you for sharing this with us, and have a great day!

      ~ Kathryn

    • MDavisatTIERS profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilyn L Davis 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Dear Crystal,

      Thank you very much for sharing and commenting. I appreciate it.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      I'll stop the incessant commenting after this one: Another great hub. Voting up and more and sharing.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilyn L Davis 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Elizabeth. Knowing what your justification for procrastination is actually helps you spot the self-defeating attitude. There are people who do not pay attention to the messages they give themselves and so a list like I have in this article can help them determine their false beliefs.

      I fall under the "I'd rather be doing something else" category for most dreaded tasks. :) Marilyn

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      So many great tips in this hub. I know that I procrastinate because I think the job (or whatever it is that I need to do) will take longer than it actually does. Most of the time, it only takes a little while. Voted this up and sharing!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)