The Blog.

Just five minutes…

23 Aug 2011 | Happiness, Personal Productivity

Something very strange has been happening in my house. Bizarre even. I have actually been enjoying… the washing up.

In case you don’t know, domestic goddess I am not. More like reluctant housewife.

So I ran out of dishwasher tablets and decided to wait until the next weekly shop to restock.

Normally I’m frantically clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, tripping over the laundry, filing a mental note of ‘yet another thing I have to do’, dropping something sticky or saucy on something important that I should have cleared away earlier, thinking about all the things I want to get done before and after the kids go to bed, waiting for that last cup in the evening to go in then forgetting to put the darned thing on, and screaming in the morning when I open it up and find everything still needs washing.

In contrast I’ve found myself in the midst of soapy bubbles, warm tea towels and rubber gloves, quite calm actually. And relaxed. In fact, I realized I was actually quite enjoying this.

So what’s that all about?

The difference was, I had set aside the time to do it. I realized it wasn’t going to be a five minute job, so I cleared some space, moved the laundry baskets out of the way, got the rubber gloves on and proceeded.

  • I wasn’t in a rush, I accepted the job was going to take some time, so I just got on with it.
  • I didn’t get that frustration of “this should only take me five minutes – I should be finished by now!”
  • Rather than racing ahead in my mind to what’s next, my mind stayed in the present and enjoyed having the door open to the garden, and watching the kids playing on the trampoline.

Wow, what a difference.

It’s simple when you think about it – give yourself time to do what you are doing.

To not do so would be like asking a runner or a swimmer to shorten their lap times by not breathing at all. But how often do we say “I’ll just do this…” without actually giving ourselves the time to do it? How many five minute jobs actually take five minutes? And how much time and energy do we then waste on stress and frustration?

My weekly shop has now arrived. Dishwasher tablets have been restocked. The box is still sealed and part of me doesn’t want to open it – this lesson in taking time is one I’m quite enjoying!

What do you think? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.


  1. Alyssa Aldersley

    Great post Grace. I’ve recently rediscovered my love of single focus too.

    With it being the school summer holidays I’d found myself getting frustrated that I ‘didn’t have enough time’ to get my new business off the ground as fast as I wanted. For a couple of days I felt held back, pinned down and annoyed. Multi-tasking sucked.

    The holidays had been going great too, I was having a lovely time with my school aged buddy. Thankfully it was just a couple of ‘off days’ as I soon realised the solution was to focus on the single task in front of me, without listening to the nagging thoughts of what else I should be doing.My business launch is a deadline to myself, by easing off a little for a couple of weeks I give myself permission to focus [and enjoy my buddy before she goes back to school]. And funnily enough it’s been great for my business brain as clarity is a great side effect!

    As for washing up, I don’t mind it either. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dishwasher but the odd bit of bubbles is a cheeky way to escape for 5 minutes.

  2. Naomi

    Grace, yes you are right. When you schedule jobs in you don’t get exasperated about not getting them done. Time management is very important in business and when running a home, especially when you work from home!

    • Grace Marshall

      The trick is sometimes recognising when something needs scheduling in – rather than treating it as just a quick thing you can do on the fly. Yes, learning to work well with time as with any resource is vital to business. Thanks Naomi x

  3. Julia

    Simple, but true. Thank you for the reminder Grace.

    • Grace Marshall

      Glad you like it Julia! Thanks for stopping by to comment 🙂

  4. Dorothy & Theodore

    It’s so true that if you have set aside the time to something it feels so much less stressful than trying to “just get it done” before doing something else – I need to make such tasks the something else!

    • Grace Marshall

      Make it a deliberate choice rather than a last minute side swipe, right? Have fun with that and enjoy the extra margin and satisfaction 🙂


  1. The July Business Mums Blog carnival | Baby Budgeting - [...] Grace Marshall shares how you can find pleasure inwashing up??? in Just five minutes [...]
Image if author Grace Marshall

About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

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