It’s easy to think that you can only start writing or painting or drawing when you have lots of extra time. Sometimes I imagine just sitting down and working for hours in a perfectly clean studio without being disturbed by anything. Do you ever have similar dreams?
If that’s the expectation, it can be difficult to start anything because you feel like you don’t have hours available. Carving out big blocks of time is nearly impossible. Like digging a hole in the sand, life rushes in at the edges, filling up the available time.
Some people solve this dilemma by rigidly scheduling and defending their time. They write for an hour before their family wakes up or paint for two hours after lunch, and they keep their appointments with themselves. Through constant, steady effort, like the tortoise, they are winning all their races by achieving their goals.
Others, like the hare, get distracted. Any extra time is quickly taken up by the needs of the moment, and their goals suffer. But, there is hope.
Little moments of time are easily overlooked, but they can add up. How much can you get done in fifteen minutes? In five?
If you can find fifteen minutes a day, in six days that’s an hour and a half. Fifteen minutes isn’t so hard to find. You can find fifteen minutes waiting for water to boil or dinner to cook.
If your project is portable, that’s even better. I’m writing a rough draft of this post in a notebook as I am sitting waiting outside a workshop. Carrying around a notebook or sketchbook makes your work portable. That makes it easier to take advantage of those little moments where you’d be checking Facebook or reading the old magazines in the waiting room.
You can make a list ahead of time of things you can accomplish in five or ten or fifteen minutes. Or you can just set a timer and jump in. Through trial and error, you’ll figure out what works best for you. The most important thing is doing something. If you never begin, you never get anywhere at all.
Do you practice art in small moments or schedule larger blocks of time? If you work in those little moments, what do you do? If you’ve made a list of possible projects, what are some of the things on your list?