How to Change Your Life in 20 Second Intervals


I packed 5 books to go on a recent family trip to California. My husband, the techy, pointed out that I could easily have read them on my phone. I shrugged. With two car seats, a stroller, and camera gear and formals for a wedding, we weren't exactly traveling light to begin with.

We arrived in California to lovely weather and grandparents. Grandparents equals childcare. And childcare equals my own quiet time to catch up on reading. Except. . .my mother-in-law highly recommended a book she brought. The catch was that I had to finish it before my sister-in-law, the real recipient, flew home.

Between the wedding assignments and just romping on the beach with the family, I didn't get to read much more than this one book anyway. But what I read was indeed powerful. Powerful in life. And just as powerful in a health related direction.

It's the 20 second rule. The author found that if something takes longer than 20 seconds, people are likely to skip it. So he took the batteries out of his TV remote, walked them 20 seconds away and put them in a drawer. He found once he sat down on the couch he didn't want to get up and go the 20 seconds to fetch the batteries. He practiced his guitar and caught up on reading the book he cleverly stashed less than 20 seconds away. Next, he learned that he made it to the gym more often if he slept in his gym clothes, eliminating the 20 seconds it took to dress appropriately in the morning. (Mind you, the monkeywrench here is he points out that his mother wonders why he isn't married.)

So I got to wondering where this trick would help in my healthy living journey. Could I hide sweets 20 seconds away from the dinner table? (Incidentally, that leaves them no longer in the kitchen, which originally made me shudder.) Even better, could I arrange fresh fruit within arm's reach of my chair to encourage healthier dessert choices? How about shoes being stashed by the back door so it takes less than 20 seconds to get the kids outside and into the sunshine? (OK, it takes more than that anyway since I'm the one having to get the shoes on the kids. But at least they sit down instead of running around looking for the shoes.) Yes, there are indeed many 20-second-intervals that could change the way I think.

Can you think of ways the 20 second rule can impact your healthy choices every day? Grab a stop watch if you have to and make some happy changes in your life!