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?


  1. If you want to comment, you have to click on "No comments:" A bit counter-intuitive, I'd say!

  2. Dana--Just popped over from the Free Write Fling. I love your idea of micro-movements. The Free Write Fling (writing for 15 minutes each day for a month) is its own kind of micro-movement. I can see so many arenas in which this concept would apply. Thanks for this thought-provoking post! Linda

    1. Hi Linda, thanks for coming over after the Free Write Fling! And I'm glad you liked the post. I hope you get a chance to go over to and take a look at SARK! I love her! She's inspired me over the years...just as Cynthia has. Hope you have a good writing week! Dana