How do you begin to scale a gargantuan metaphorical pyramid whose apex is the fulfilment of your dreams? I have the answer. With the ten minute rule. My dear friend who started out as my learning specialist shared the ten minute rule with me once. She suggested if I have difficulty starting a task (studying many hours for my prelim at McGill) to start with just ten minutes. If after ten minutes I am in agonizing misery, I can stop and then try again later. Usually, however, some momentum accrues during those first ten minutes.
I have applied the ten minute rule to every colossal task. Writing a difficult research paper that carried much emotional baggage seemed impossible to me just a couple of years ago. I settled myself at my desk and broke the task into dozens of ten minute chunks. After each ten minute chunk, I checked off the task and rested before tackling the next one. In fact, with this approach you can accomplish pretty much anything. Ten minutes is also long enough that you can accomplish a fair amount in the time period, at least if you are intense in your attack and start with the next ten minute period soon after.
Today the hours stretch before me in a continuum of different variations of grey. I tried creating a schedule, so I could complete the Grade 8 piano practical requirements by August but have felt unmotivated to tackle the required hours each day of practice. I feel daunted by the over 100 technical requirements, six pieces (four memorized), and the ear training and sight reading components. Instead, I propose to abandon schedules and artificial deadlines. A piano practice that will heal me from my past will arise not from a factory-like schedule but from sitting down and dedicating myself entirely for ten minutes to my music at a time. Sitting down to commit to hours of practice is overwhelming, but ten minutes, to be followed by ten minutes at a later time, is accessible.
How do you scale that looming and daunting to-do list? With the ten minute rule.