90 Minutes – If You Have Only One Good Habit, Let it Be This

Published October 28, 2009 in productivity - 10 Comments

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I believe that good habit-building is very central to personal progress, productivity and self-improvement of almost any kind. In this post, I explain the most essential, basic and important habit in my life – the habit I simply refer to as “90 minutes”.

Who Are You Spending Your Time On?

I have been self-employed for almost four years now and I am running or involved in running several businesses. I am happy to say that I enjoy almost all the work I do for these different projects.
That’s perfect, right? Everyone’s always talking about how great it would be to “do what you love” for a living, after all.

Well, it is great, but it got out of hand for me. At some point, a few months ago, I realized that work had taken over all of my waking hours. I would literally get up in the morning, have a quick breakfast and then start working. And I would do nothing but work until some time very late at night, when I’d go to bed again. I was spending all of my time for my projects and for other people (customers, members of the community in my markets).

Then again, I wasn’t always super-productive. Sometimes I wouldn’t work morning till evening. Far from it. Some days, I’d spend hours and hours with idle distractions. Browsing forums, writing and answering more emails than necessary and doing so very inefficiently, playing the occasional video game… But even on such “slow” days, I wasn’t spending time just for myself.


What do I mean by “spending time for myself”? This is a question I had to ask myself as well and your answer might not be the same as mine. To me, spending time for myself means that I do something that solely focuses my mind on myself and my own progress.

This is why working doesn’t count, even though it’s my business I’m working on. It’s time spent for the progress of the business, not for my personal progress.

It’s also why playing video games doesn’t count, even if I enjoy them a lot. The game distracts my mind away from myself.

What is “me-time” for you? This is a question that each person will answer differently. To answer this question, you can rely on your gut: When you feel like an activity is a personal, productive and positive use of your time, it probably is. Here’s part of my list of me-time activities:

  • Setting and reviewing goals, planning my future.
  • Exercise.
  • Journaling, writing down personal thoughts.
  • Going for a walk and just letting my thoughts run their course for a while.
  • Reading a good book that I can learn from.

And here are some things I absolutely have to avoid during me-time:

  • Anything, anything at all on the Internet (just too easy to get distracted).
  • Answering phone-calls.
  • Thinking or worrying about current business-related issues.

90 Minutes

After I realized what “me-time” meant for me personally and clearly saw that I was spending a grand total of about 0 minutes a day for myself, I decided that something needed to change. Thinking about it rationally, I came to the conclusion that I should spend at least 90 minutes every day just for myself. During the roughly 17 to 18 hours of waking time each day, that would still leave 12 to 13 hours to spend on other people and other projects and a few hours for the daily necessities (eating, shopping for groceries, household chores etc.). Looking at it this way, it seems like 90 minutes spent for myself still leaves my life grossly out of balance, but at least it’s a great improvement over what I did before.

Get Started

I encourage you to give “90 minutes” a try. Here is a step-by-step plan for implementing this habit into your life:

  1. First of all, just ask yourself how much me-time you are giving yourself each day. It’s probably well below 90 minutes, right?
  2. Make a list of what counts as me-time for you. Keep in mind that all the activities should be ones that you enjoy and that focus your mind on yourself and your personal progress.
  3. Make a list of things to avoid during me-time.
  4. Start today!

One more thing: “90 minutes” doesn’t have to take 90 minutes. Start with an amount of time you are comfortable with, if 90 minutes seems too long. How about one hour? Or even half an hour? I know that it can often seem like you don’t have a single minute to spare, but give it a try. Make a bit of time for you in your day. You won’t regret it.

Also, me-time doesn’t have to be all in one go. I recommend spending chunks of at least 30 minutes in me-time, however.

That’s all. Try it out and tell me what you think in the comments.

  • I like this concept!
    Always up to try something new, Im putting me-time in my calendar 🙂


    • Hey Dean,
      Thanks for commenting! Good idea to put it as a fixed appointment in your calendar. I should do that more often myself.


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  • Great, simple ideas. I don’t know what I’d do without my reading and running time in the morning. It keeps me sane.


    • Thanks for commenting, Sunny!
      Ah, yes, morning runs. Something that spends too much time on my to-do list and not enough on my “actually-doing” list…

  • Great idea, Shane! I think that me not doing this led me to almost burning out recently. I think 90 minutes about ideal. An hour wouldn’t quite be enough. Great practical post. Thanks.

    • Hi Gordie,
      Thanks for your feedback. It’s good to see someone else being able to relate to this. As I was writing the post, I was wondering if people would think I’m crazy for suggesting only 90 minutes… I can be a bit of a workaholic, so I wasn’t sure how relevant 90 mins was to others.

  • This is a really great post. I am at the point where I need to cut some projects and stop working so much. I tend to work all day – no weekends either. I see my weekends as time to get more work done.

    At some point, I need to figure out how to make the same amount of money without working as hard. This is a great reminder 🙂

    • Hi Monica,
      Thanks for commenting! Haha, I’m just like that, too. Weekends are time to get more work done, in my mind as well. Not the most healthy of attitudes, perhaps…
      90 minutes is my main way of claiming a chunk of time for myself and making sure I don’t go overboard with anything.


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