I’d like to order a 26-hour day, please!


I’m not sure about all of you, but lately I feel as if the day is never long enough. It’s bedtime and I haven’t finished everything I wanted to do. Carol expressed a similar sentiment in one of her recent posts. Reading her take on things gave me some comfort and also reminded me that we women are pretty lucky. It’s our nature to feel free enough to express our fears and what bothers us. In doing so, we help each other know that we’re often all in the same boat.

The more I thought about that, it reminded me of an old newspaper article that’s been stored in the back section of my recipe box. My mother cut it out of the paper in 1954(!) when she was a young bride. Then, when I got married, she gave it to me along with several of her hand-written recipes. I’ve used the recipes many times over the years, but the article has mostly been buried in the back of the box.


Here it is – a clipping from The Boston Globe, April 1954. Long before there were forums or blogs or the internet, women found ways to share life with each other. This article is from a regular feature that ran in the Globe called the “Confidential Chat”. Women would send letters to the newspaper offering advice to each other on marriage, raising children, taking care of a home, recipes, etc. The newspaper then published these letters in a column that attracted lots of participants and was widely read, for many years.

The article pictured above was one of the most popular and most requested (as a re-print) in the history of the “Confidential Chat”. And, honestly it’s as timely today as it was then. Women have always wondered how to do it all and still keep the house in some sort of livable order. They may not have worked outside the home in earlier years, but everything about running a home was harder and much more time-consuming then, so those ladies had no more time than the women of today who must juggle a job and a family. See if you agree that the article’s author, the “20-Minute Gal”, had a good plan.


Her theory was that most women are so over-burdened with the necessary chores like cooking, dishes, and laundry, that there’s no time or energy for the other tasks involved in keeping a home reasonably clean and tidy. She advised that you spend 20 minutes a day on an extra chore and to do it early in the day before you are tired. After 20 minutes, you must STOP. “Don’t cheat!” She said. She promised that after a few weeks, the house would begin to shine, and that in a few months – it would be a pleasure to behold.

20-Minute Gal’s Famous 20 Minute Plan

In one 20-minute period per day, you can do one of the following:

Clean all lampshades in the house

Wash the tops of all doors and windows – which takes a lot of dust out of the house and saves on regular dusting.

Wash the glass on all pictures in the house.

Wash all mirrors

Clean all ceiling lights

Clean and wax one piece of furniture

Wash one window and wax the woodwork casing.

Clean one rug

Ordinarily you’d probably take all the curtains down at once in a room, but instead do ONE pair only. Swish them in soapy water – don’t count the drying time – and then give them a touch-up with the iron. If it takes longer than 20 minutes to have them ready to re-hang – get new curtains! Life is too short to spend a lot of time caring for curtains!!!

Sort items in a closet – but only in 20-minute intervals!

Clean/sort one bureau drawer for 20 minutes – again, don’t cheat. Maybe the first time you are just taking out things you know you can eliminate.

Wash one painted wall. Start at the top; work your way down.


There were more suggestions for 20-minute chores and she encouraged you to come up with your own, as well. It makes sense to me, and now that I’ve re-discovered this clipping, I’m going to give the “plan” a genuine try!

You have to love the spirit of sharing and encouragement that went on with this Confidential Chat group. The Boston Globe’s “Chat” was discontinued after the internet began to thrive, but it’s nice to see how women of previous generations sought to connect with each other, and that there was such genuine support in those connections.

We continue the tradition today with the friends we meet on blogs and other online forums. We, too, console and reassure and cheer for each other. In the words of an old song . . . “We are women. Hear us roar!” 😉



I’d like to order a 26-hour day, please! — 8 Comments

  1. Good Post!

    I read somewhere a long time ago that if you have a big project, such as cleaning out my junk room, take just a small corner and work through it. The idea was to spend just 15 minutes at a time and before you know it the task would be done. Up until recently, that has been my method to tackle unpleasant chores. With all the recent change in my life, I had forgotten. Thanks for the reminder.

    Yes, you are right. We bloggers do stay in communication with each other. Offering tips, encouragement, sympathy and support to each other via the internet has kept women in contact with other women with like ideas and interests. Definitely more personal than writing to a column in the newspaper, but sadly not as satisfying as in person friendships.

    Crystal says: You’re so right, Sis! In person friendships would be best of all. So when are ya moving east? 😉 Wouldn’t it be fun to shop and bead together!!

  2. Roar! I’m so bad, I never want to clean. Even 20 minutes. So I usually spend an entire day or afternoon cleaning after a week of postponement. Life planning FAIL. 🙂

    I have to wonder why they discontinued the Chat after the internet began to flourish… you’d think they’d see the opportunity to expand it! But I suppose the tradition has been carried out web-wide, so…

    Crystal says: Chris, your sense of humor is fantastic! Thanks for the smiles!

  3. This reminds me of FlyLady and her 15 minute rule. It works so well. I am easily distracted so doing something like this is great, but my problem is that if I am working along and my timer goes off to tell me my 25/20 minutes are up, I can’t stop. I am so thrilled to have been doing something that needed to get done without getting distracted that I want to see just how long it will last. Sometimes it only lasts a few minutes longer and sometimes hours. When I was pregnant with baby #4 I decided to spend 15 minutes organizing a kitchen cupboard before going to bed (around 11PM). When my husband got up for work at 6 AM, I had just finished cleaning the entire kitchen top to bottom. I had completely cleaned and organized the fridge and the cupboards and the drawers. I cleaned the stove and the oven and pulled out all the appliances and scrubbed down under and behind them. I even took down and cleaned the light fixture. Never in my life have I spent that long cleaning and I doubt it will ever happen again, but I sure enjoyed my clean kitchen for a while.

  4. if i spent 20 min a day devoted to knitting instead of on the computer, i wonder how many of my works in progress would be finished>

  5. I certainly wouldn’t mind a 26-hour day, although if it’s what we always had, I’m sure I’d be wishing for a 28-hour day instead…there’s always too much to do and not enough time!

  6. The 20 minute plan is a good one…even I could do that, lol! However, my biggest problem is that I inherited the hoarding gene from my mom and I am buried in accumulated junk….er, treasures! 20 minutes would barely be enough time for me to move boxes out of the way so I could get to the piles of stuff that need to be put away………….sigh…

  7. I Googled “confidential chat 20 minute gal” and am delighted to have your post pop up on page 2 or 3! I contributed to CC back in the early 60’s as a young bride, and 20-minute gal was my #1 hero! Lately I have been following the advise of The Flylady, who has published several books about decluttering, daily 15-minute missions, and in-depth deep cleaning throughout the whole house. Thank you for 30-minute gal’s original post.

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