The Power of 7 Minutes
In medical school, I easily spent 30 to 40 hours per week in class, and an additional 30 to 40 hours studying on my own. In residency, we commonly worked 60 to “80” hours (in quotes because there was an 80 hour “limit”, and those who have been through it will catch my meaning) per week, many of those hours being on night shifts. Fueled by caffeine with little sleep in a stressful job and having a family with one to three children (we grew through residency), it would have been easy to rarely, if ever, workout, read anything except required medical literature, and consume anything other than convenient, high carb food on the go. Most medical students and residents survive this way, and only after residency do many put any effort back into their own health. However, I struggled more if I did not make time to regularly invest in myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. With such a tight and demanding schedule, how was I able to do this? I did, and still do this by understanding the importance and power of time and striving to make every minute count. It has been, and continues to be a journey I do not travel perfectly, but in its pursuit I have come to understand the potential depth of our work capacity in choosing to maximize our time. Currently working 40 to 60 hours per week in the hospital, starting a business, coaching a high school team and youth club team, pursuing my wife, and raising 4 children, I have still made time to invest in myself by training for (and completing) a half ironman, daily learning, and intentionally choosing what I put in my body. I do this by following a principle I refer to as “the power of 7 minutes.” I recently coined it this way because it takes me 7 minutes to pull out of my driveway and into the parking lot of the hospital, and two recent studies (one in 2017 and another in 2020) have shown 7 minutes of daily exercise to have significant benefits in body habitus, resting heart rate, and blood pressure. Here, I’m going to give you a powerful example of the effects intentionally using 7 minutes has had in my life.
The 7 minute commute to work has developed a singularly powerful habit for me – learning through audiobooks. Historically, I strictly listened to music while driving, especially on short drives, such as my commute to work, as I felt these provided barely enough time to even start a book. Three years ago, I set a goal to complete at least one audiobook per month, and I grew frustrated with not completing my goal after the first two months. Then I did some math…I listen to books at x1.25 speed, and at that speed with my daily commute to and from work I could add almost an additional 6 hours of listening time per month. That is 6 hours of additional learning each month, and approximately one full book each month. I discovered the benefits compounded as I grew more hooked into whichever book I was listening to, and I started listening to it every time I drove, even if just to the grocery store and even if my children were with me. Now, my oldest son requests we listen to whichever book I have going at the time when he rides with me, and he picks up surprising details leading to great conversations together. Not only has a 7 minute commute turned into a powerful habit for me, it is turning into an early habit for my son and serving as an excellent source for life-lesson talks together. What began as a struggle to finish even one book per month, has turned into a flood of enjoyable daily learning, and I will be closing out this year by finishing 38 books in 2022 alone.
That is the power of 7 minutes, and it can be applied to almost anything. As I referenced above, studies now show that as little as 7 minutes of daily exercise can have significant benefits in health through weight reduction and improvement in cardiovascular fitness. What’s more, is the daily 7 minutes can eventually turn whatever is being intentionally pursued into a habit. And, as I have demonstrated in my own life, no matter how busy you become, 7 minutes to invest in yourself can always be found and is more than worth the effort. You just have to be willing to either look for the time, or create it. Start with a commute, setting your alarm 7 minutes earlier, or spending 7 minutes doing push ups, sit ups, squats, and burpees when you get out of bed. Spend 7 minutes intentionally investing in yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually or by investing in a relationship that is important to you. Just look for or create the 7 minute opportunity. If managing and creating time to invest in yourself is a struggle, I strongly recommend the book Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Reynor. The busier you become, and the more responsibility you carry, the more important it becomes to invest in yourself. So, where are you going to find your 7 minutes, and what are you going to do with them?
8 Replies to “The Power Of 7 Minutes”
Yes! I love this start small concept. It seems daunting to make time when you are so busy but like you I found I suffered more when I didn’t make time for myself. Fantastic advice and I’ll reference to your 7 minute method and share this blog post now for my clients challenged to make time in their lives!
Nice Grant. That is very cool. If I could get my son to be interested in listening to books with me that would be awesome.
Awesome insight, audiobooks are a very good start. We listen daily to something while in our commutes to wherever we are headed. Making that habit of study or mind development is perfect
So teach us to number, our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
That’s an amazing tip. I plan to implement that into my routine. Thank you for all you are doing in this community and beyond. You are an inspiration. 👍💪
This is a great idea! When I commuted to Steamboat for work I listened to countless books and podcasts and I really miss it, now that I do not commute.
I spend so much time driving kids around to school, sports etc that I could definitely spend my time much more wisely rather than listening to music or catching up on Facebook while waiting for them! Thank you!
What a inspiration you are! I am going to start the new year with a new purpose. Time is such an easy thing to waste. You have inspired me to fill my moments with something valuable.
What a great insight as to how much so little time accumulated can make such a huge impact. Most of us have such a busy life repetivily living, but this breakdown makes it sound much simpler to make the slightest change and shows the difference not only for you but to others. Thanks for the share, great advice.