I was doing some baking this weekend and it dawned on me that virtually every drop cookie recipe suggests an 8 minute bake time. Less than that, say 6 minutes, and the cookies are too gooey or fall apart. More than that, say 12 minutes, and you could end up with burned hockey pucks. But in 8 minutes, that soft lump of dough turns into a perfect lightly browned soft delicious cookie. It’s kind of magical, really.
This morning I hit my snooze alarm, and rolled back over intending to take advantage of that full standard 9 minutes of more sleep. However my puppy had other plans and woke me again one minute before the alarm went off another time. I had managed 8 more minutes of shut-eye. Later I got into my car to head to work. I’m spoiled that I work in the same town as my job, very close by. Eerily knowing my routine, my phone popped up a notice that it would take me 8 minutes to get to the office. Huh.
There’s something about this time frame. Many believe 8 minutes is the perfect amount of time to hard boil eggs. (I’m aware this is up for debate, there are some hardcore 10-minuters out there). The average length of time for a person to take a shower is 8 minutes. The “average” runner can complete a mile in 8 minutes. (I leave this one up to you runners to verify). And, I learned today, it takes 8 minutes for light to reach the Earth from the surface of sun.
Those are all pretty impressive things that can happen in that short an amount of time. What fascinates me is that its not 5 minutes – which is really too short a time period to accomplish much of anything – and it’s not 10, which apparently is too lengthy. Nope, it’s 8. There’s a lot of opportunity that lies in 8 minutes. Just think – we all have approximately 112 8-minute segments in an average waking hours day.
What else could be done in that amount of time? Would chores feel less overwhelming if we broke them down? So for example, instead of deciding we need to clean the whole house in two hours, what if we took bite-size chunks – take 8 minutes to clean a couple toilets, or vacuum the floors. It seems like a more friendly, approachable number. Need to connect with a colleague about a few topics? How about asking “Can I have 8 minutes of your time?” Need to peel a child away from a screen? Maybe we’d get fewer eye-rolls by saying “hey, come help me for 8 minutes.” In 8 minutes, we could read a story with a child, sort through and put away the mail, clean out a spice rack, flip through a magazine, call and make an appointment we’ve been putting off, or – how’s this for a wild idea – just sit and look out the window. I’ll bet having 8 minutes to just sit and breathe will seem a whole lot longer and do wonders for our sanity and blood pressure.
Obviously I’m not advocating that we start breaking our entire days down to 8-minute increments, that would drive us insane. But maybe we’ll start to feel more productive and put less pressure on ourselves if we can appreciate what we can accomplish in small bits. Like we may not have the time and energy for a full-on workout session, but we could squeeze in some sit-ups and squats in 8 minutes. Hey, if a cookie can look that good in 8 minutes, it should work for us too, right?
Today at lunchtime I did quick trips to get gas and go to the bank (both probably took, you guessed it, 8 minutes). The bank associate and I were chatting about Thanksgiving, and he said he was at first panicked because he was hosting the meal this year, and initially had 14 people due to arrive to his apartment where he wouldn’t have room for them all. Then he told me due to some cancellations and changes, the group number dropped to 8. Which would be the exact right fit for his dining table. I smiled and said “Yes, 8 will be perfect.”
That brings me to one of the many times when an 8 minute accomplishment is not appropriate. After all of the planning and work that goes into the holiday meal, and family and friends have gathered, please do NOT finish your meal in 8 minutes. Slow down. Savor the food, saver the company, take time to talk, to be together. The people who prepared the meal will appreciate your slower pace, as will your stomach. This is when time fragments don’t matter. Each moment matters. So let’s all try a bit of slow-mo on Thursday.
You can save the 8 minutes for your next Chinese take-out meal.