20 Minute Plan

Timer de Cozinha em forma de Tomate

Want to be the Darth Vader of your marketing universe? Start a 20 minute plan. Here’s what I mean. **Update: This is also evidently called the Pomodoro method. Furthermore, my friend, Thomas Clifford was on the same wavelength. It’s still a good method. : )

First, Get an Egg Timer

I recommend a real egg timer and not software. For whatever reason, software is easier to ignore. In your case, we’re going for bulletproof execution, so get a real one. (If you can’t see the links to timers below, click here.)

This one is classic:

This one is stainless and kind of cool:

This one is fun:

Clearly, any timer will do. Pick according to your needs.

Second, Build a List

Take a piece of paper, a 3×5 card, Evernote, Remember the Milk, whatever, and jot down a list. It can have whatever you want to do on it, but make sure that you put a mix of pleasurable things, necessary things, and absolutely overdue/must do things. Here’s an example:

  • Email responses and inbox cleaning.
  • Invoice checkup. Everybody paying?
  • Deliverable checkup. Doing what you should be doing?
  • Blog post. (20 minutes might get you all the way there, or halfway there).
  • Exercise. 20 minutes of brisk walking or a quick run or a circuit of pushups, situps, squats, and bentover rows with a light weight would do wonderfully.
  • Call 3 or 4 people and check in. Don’t ask for anything. Just check in.
  • Watch part of a TED talk.

You get the idea.

Eliminate Distractions

  • Close your browser. (Or leave the one tab you need open.)
  • Set your phone to silent.
  • Turn off Twitter, Yammer, IM, Skype.
  • Close your office door.
  • Put in earphones (even if you don’t listen to music).

Set the Timer

Set the timer for 20 minutes.


Work on something on the list. Do nothing to distract from the task you’ve laid out before you. At the end of 20 minutes, stop.

Cross off whatever you did. Think about when you might do another 20 minute burst.

Marvel at how amazing you are, and then go back to doing whatever you normally do with your time.

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