Monday, October 8, 2012

Don’t Have Time?

Throughout my creative meanderings over the years, I’ve run across a couple of good methods for uncovering and creating more time. This includes time for really grungy jobs I avoid at all cost and even peril; and it covers making time for pursuing creative or fun projects, too, a little bit at a time.

Let’s say it’s the end of January and you have received all of your tax information – W2s, mortgage interest paid, dividends, 1099s if you are a freelancer, and so on. You’ve been good. You have thrown all these valuable pieces of paper into a folder marked TAXES 2012. 

And now it’s time to pull out your receipts (those are in a folder, too, right?) and get the stuff organized and delivered to your favorite tax preparer (maybe it’s you). But you know you can save money by entering the receipts into a spreadsheet, and then you have to copy every piece of paper, and the list of to-dos builds. Now you don’t even want to touch that folder.

Here’s what you do. Make a date with yourself, date and exact time, and promise to devote 5 whole minutes to the project. Right, just 5 minutes. Of course, what usually happens is that you’re drawn in and end up working longer. But when you’re done with that task – maybe it was just to get out the tax folder and look at all the information in it – schedule your next micro-movement on the project right then. The next day, later that day, next week. (More about micro-movements below!)

I used to get all my tax folders out, put them in the middle of the living room floor and swear I was going to work on it and complete it in one day. Of course, I ended with a bigger mess because I’d step over and around the folders for days. 

Then I’d put them back and continue this dance until the first week in April. No tax preparer can complete your taxes by April 15 after you fooled around for so long, so then an extension is filed. Need I say anything about the guilt, the shame, the anxiety? No, I didn’t think so.

I love micro-movements for getting jobs like that completed in small, edible chunks. And it can be applied to things you actually want to do but have some issues like fear, failure, shame going on.

I learned about micro-movements from the incredible SARK – Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy. I learned from her juicy books about how NOT to be a starving artist, but to be an artist with mojo and completed projects. I advise signing up for her little letters of inspiration (she calls them Tiny Tidbits), so short but so succulent and fabulous. The micro-movement lesson from SARK has stayed with me for years and I do pull it out in desperate times to complete ugly, overwhelming tasks. Ah!

Here’s another method for buying yourself time. I want to sign up for the novel-writing project in November, NaNoWriMo. The goal is 50,000 words written by November 30. I divided 50,000 by 30 and came up with 1,667 words each day. 

Well, how long does that actually take to do? I discovered that I write 438 words in 20 minutes. That means I have to write four 20-minute chunks each day to meet that goal. Oh, that’s one hour and 20 minutes of writing every day to write a novel in a month. Wow, I can do that! 

I just bought myself some time, identified it, and made the project seem completely doable. I don’t think about “50,000 words” or even “1,667 words.” Just the next 20-minute chunk. And that can be scheduled as a micro-movement to do something I cherish.

I could stretch out the novel-writing to just four months by writing only 20 minutes a day on it. At the end of whatever timeframe I commit to, I will have a first draft of a novel. That’s astounding, I hear you saying. 

Can you apply that same method of measuring and dividing out your time into doable chunks for your schedule now? Don’t you have a dream you’d like to pursue? (If you haven’t already, read my last post, Who Needs a Dream? These two methods will remove some of your fear and trepidation, and will get your mojo cranked up and running – daily.)

I urge you to try out the micro-movements for fun or dreadful tasks, and to create in small 15 to 20-minute chunks. Set your goals and make a commitment. Then go for it.

Life is supposed to have its pleasures, satisfactions, fulfillments. Please don’t allow dragging your feet and feeling overwhelmed stop you from following your dreams. Please let me know how you’re doing with your pursuits ­ or even the nasty jobs. How do you think these methods will work for you?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Who Needs a Dream?

I can never copy someone else’s dreams and make them my own. I have my own dream for myself. So do you, dear reader.

You may think you don’t have a dream and daily life is enough for you. But you might also have a message you stumble across every few months, and it’s the same one you stepped around six months before. Why does that keep bugging me, you ask impatiently. I don’t have time for that. I’m busy. And I like my life the way it is. Works for me, you say.

But the nagging continues. For years. Yes, years. Dreams are made of indestructible material. They come from your soul which is eternal. Why should they go away just because you want to shovel dirt over your dream for a few years? The dream keeps whispering.

Well, why doesn’t it shout, you ask, now impatient with this dream and soul business. It doesn’t go away because it needs your willingness, your heart, your whole being to believe in it and act on it. Shouting would be mean, and dreams are about love and joy and passion.

Oh, occasionally you will get a shout-out moment of clarity and detail. And some people can go with that and start right in on their path. The shout-out moments can be useful later as reminders that the Whole Enchilada is not only possible, but it’s the only thing you want to do.

If you have no shout-outs, there are methods you can use to encourage the whisper of your dreams to speak up a little louder, more frequently, and help you form a plan of sorts.

  • Love yourself. Endlessly, no holding back, when it seems the darkest and least probable moment, and you appear your least lovable. Love anyway. It’s the only way you can receive and then give the love that your dream brings to you.
  • Take time to listen. Even if you just get up five or ten minutes early to silently contemplate your day and give yourself some extra hugs, or promise during your time in the shower to be open with your whole heart and mind. Wherever, whenever, however you choose, listen regularly. Maybe only Monday and Thursday mornings, or at lunch, or a special break by yourself on those two days of the week. Be present for you.
  • If you hear a repeating theme, write it down somewhere. And then add to it as more feeling and more information is imparted to you. You might be reading something and a phrase or just a word leaps off the page or screen at you. Add it to your special writing nook. Visiting your written words has power and energy and juice for you. Do it for you. Do it for your dream, struggling to be seen and befriended.
Always remember that you have a special, a unique song to sing, story to tell, life to live here in this life, on this planet, in this time you are alive. It is uniquely you. No one else can tell that story or sing that song. It is yours. And that is what the whispering is all about.

Find others to talk with about this stuff. You know, the ones who won’t look at you like you’re crazy when you say you hear your dreams whispering to you. The ones who talk about their dreams, who tell the secrets of finding the way to dreams. 

They might be a close friend, or maybe the author of a book you picked up. 

Find inspiration. You need it for the journey. It replenishes you when you start doubting but still want to find your way back to the joy, the fun, life, you.