The 10-minute rule: How to improve your practice.

I know you’ve done it, or at least said it. “Five-second rule!” You pick up a piece of dropped food or encourage another person nearby to do so. It’s still edible if it’s been 5 seconds or less, right?

Several years ago I told my team about my 10-minute rule and it was a bigger deal than I imagined. This rule has transformed my effectiveness as a behavior analyst. And I’d like to share it with you.

Orginally, the 10-minute rule started for my family. I was notorious for arriving 30-minutes before the daycare closed proud that I’d get that extra 30-minutes with my littles. Then I’d stand in the parking lot on the phone with someone from work until 5-’till and feel accomplished with work but neglectful as a mother. So, I made a rule for myself. Do my best to give myself a 10-minute buffer. Get off calls and ‘clock out’ 10-minutes out from the daycare or home if my husband had picked up the children.

Soon after I applied this with my family time I applied it to my work. At the time I provided a lot of in-home services. I enjoy the 30-minute drive time breaks between clients and I would say 50/50 this was filled with my favorite music blasting or podcasts and work calls. Either way, I began implementing the 10-minute rule. Ten minutes before arriving to a client’s home I turn off other tasks and begin thinking about the case I am about to see.

As you may be aware, each client we serve has their own unique needs. For in-home services each family has their own flare that I, an ambivert, sometimes have to prepare myself for. Perhaps there is a sibling that joins in part of the session, that is an additional factor to prep for. I spend that time getting my head in the space of a particular child, their family, their preferences and program, and reflecting on the last session and what my plans are for the upcoming session.

This creates a smoother transition to a session and helps me be a more effective BCBA. Hope this is helpful for you too!

If you like this information, you may also read:

Behavior Analysis is not summer camp

How behavior analysts (and you) change the world