Thursday, March 08, 2007

What can you do in 15 minutes?

This week's newsletter was about blogs, but led off with a bit about how large projects can be completed by regularly spending even a small amount of time on them. This is how Alyson finally finished writing a book that had been on hold for too long. She closed with this question:

"What do you have that you want to accomplish? Can you devote 15 minutes to it each day?"

Back in December of 2005, I wrote about capturing those small bits of time here. I was thinking more in terms of the minutes I waste because I think I need large chunks of time before starting anything. But there are many little tasks that can be completed in 5, 10 or 15 minutes. Or at least a good start can be made on them. I'm still trying to master the mindset necessary to dive into a task rather than procrastinate until I think I have more time to devote to it.

When I'm in full working mode, my studio becomes a mess - sometimes to the point that I don't have a lot of open space on the work table to actually work. Once a project is done, I often shove the odds and ends to one side rather than straightening up there and then. That one is often the product of a bit of fatigue, and when I still ignore the mess the next morning, that is more of an impatience to get on with the next project.

I noticed lately that when I enter the studio, I'm not always ready to get right to work. It sometimes takes a few minutes to focus, sweep the cobwebs from the brain, decide what needs to be tackled. I found myself turning to straightening up and thought, well, there you go, procrastinating in a different direction. But in truth, taking 10 or 15 minutes at the beginning of each studio session to clear the decks not only frees up actual working space and removes visual distractions, but also allows my mind to prepare itself for the workday. Twyla Tharp in "The Creative Habit" would call this a ritual of preparation. The added bonus is that if I do this straightening up on a daily basis, I don't end up having to devote an entire work day to digging myself out.

Right now I don't have a major back burner project in mind that I want to devote 15 minutes a day to. My mind is much more thinking in terms of what I can do to avoid the backlog of paperwork and computer entry I let stack up because I think I just don't have time to face it today. Case in point: my taxes would be done had I regularly entered financial data in my Quicken program.

So perhaps what I need to devote 15 minutes a day to is my bookkeeping/computer updating in all its forms. I'll worry about that book contract later...

1 comment:

margaret said...

Too true! Another mantra which I'm sure you've heard is "do the most important thing first" - but like you say, it's not always easy to dive straight in.

A timer is an important tool here, especially for the dreaded, procrastinated tasks - "you can do anything for 15 minutes"!

I've got some piles of paper that I'll spend 15 minutes going through, before going to work this morning...