Monday, July 2, 2012

Ten Minutes


I hope my previous post, Who Gets To Create? made you think. Today we're dealing with a nitty-gritty detail – finding time.




If you are like me, life is too short. When you look in your dictionary, you cannot find the word bored, as in “I'm bored”. You can find the words distracts, as in “Everything I should be doing distracts me from the things I want to be doing” or frustrated as in “I am so frustrated that I can't find enough time for my – you fill in the word -”. I fill the blank in with a variety of words, including music, relationships, writing, and especially, self.

Too many projects and not enough time to get to them, or so it seems. This is a common theme. Never fear, Creatavita is here to help.

First of all, the time has come for some good ol' attitude adjustment. This is particularly true if you have ever seriously studied an art form in your life. You learned early on in your study, that an hour a day was required to progress. Anything less was, at least for some of us, total and absolute failure. That's why we would meet each other in the hallways of our college music departments at ridiculous hours of the day, say 6:00 am or 10:30 pm, or my personal favorite time, 7:00 pm on a Friday night. I'd go to happy hour with my friends at 3:00, eat the free food (okay, I'd have a drink or two. But remember, the legal drinking age was 18 back then) and then I would, honest to God, go back to the practice rooms.

That worked in college and graduate school. But guess what. We're all grown up now, with our fancy-pants lives and the rent is due tomorrow. Gone is the luxury of hours on end spent daily communing with your favorite composer, painter or author. In order to get some artistic joy back into our lives, we're going to have to rework this outdated model.

Secondly, I hereby give you permission to lower the bar. Oh boy, I bet you weren't expecting that one. I stand by my original statement, Your Honor, lower the bar. Try this little exercise. Say to yourself, “Self, I bet you I could find 30 minutes a day to work on my novel.” If Self tightens your gut and your heart starts to race, then you have the bar too high. Lower that number until you find the number of minutes to which Self's response is: “Are you crazy? Of course I can find [X] minutes in a day to work on my children's book!”.

To give you courage, let me tell you that I am currently at 10 minutes a day. There have been times in my life when I've been at 20 and times when I've been as low as 5. By the way, the end of the road is 5 minutes. Any number lower than 5 minutes is not trying. We might have lowered the bar, but we are still trying.

Thirdly, use tools. Here's the link to an online timer.


Yes, you heard me, a timer. Use it. Some days your minutes will fly by and you'll be astonished when the timer goes off. Some days you will swear the timer is broken. Use it.

Now I know some of you are out there thinking this will never work. Gathering your materials to work for a small amount of time is pointless. You know what, if you write one good sentence, if you play one good phrase, if you sketch one tiny corner, you will have succeeded. And don't forget that being creative is a habit. Maybe today's work will be awful, but that means you'll be one day closer to the great work.

Finally, give yourself a chance. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will this new habit. You will have to tussle with yourself, as the Musts and Shoulds rear their ugly heads. This tussle could be epic, lasting as long as one month. Stick with it. I'm pretty certain there's a day in your future when you will surprise yourself with how easily you were able to find the time for your favorite creative pursuit.

By the way, you can also use this approach for problem-solving. Let's say you are stymied by a work project or you need to finally choose a dissertation topic. How about focusing on the, ahem, situation, for a chosen amount of time daily and then forgetting about it? I know, I know, difficult to forget about it. Oftentimes, the solution appears when we're not thinking about the conundrum. Deal with the situation for, let's say, 15 minutes a day and then drop it like an old flame for the rest of the day.

Gotta go. Since I spent my 10 minutes today editing this post, I've now freed up time for another fun part of life. Today's adventure? The Teen's playing baseball in South Philly. Cheesesteaks for everyone!



4 comments:

dakater said...

It is nice to be given permission to "lower the bar." I sometimes put off projects or don't finish them because subconsciously I'm feeling, what if it isn't what it's "supposed" to be? It's amazing sometimes what can happen once you actually force yourself to start something - even if it's in 10 minutes increments. Suddenly, hours have passed and mired in the project, you wonder why you were so hesitant in the first place. And guess what? It often ends up being something completely different from what you initially envisioned - and even more like whatever the heck it's "supposed" to be!

Marita 5254 said...

Heidi,
A long time ago you advised me of this and I have been using it ever since. 15 minutes is my mark for playing the piano. Most days I go over, but at least I am playing 15 minutes a day. We all know 15 minutes on a consistent basis= progress!! Thanks for the advice, it has been helpful!

Heidi Hayes said...

Sometimes permission from someone else is needed, so I'm glad Creatavita could help, dakater. And I absolutely agree, starting is often all that has to happen to get a project going. Love your comment about ending up somewhere completely different. Now that's creating!

Heidi Hayes said...

Marita! I am honored to know this idea has helped you!