Bills need to be paid, dishes need to be done, my kids need a dad, my fiancé needs a husband and my job needs my most productive hours of the day.
There are creative projects that yearn to be completed and skills to be mastered: play guitar better, post a weekly blog, type 90 wpm, craft better lyrics, turn the home office into a recording studio. But when? The schedule looks full. The calendar is blocked out.
To record a new song, I would prefer a 72-hour block of solitude - of which maybe 30 hours is actually tracking and mixing music. There may be one chance like that a year. In that amount of time I will probably end up with 1 or 2 half-finished songs. That kind of work block isn't realistic and at the pace, no music will ever get published.
I'm tempted to make ten clones of myself, but what if I turned out to be the dishwashing clone? I think I need to work in smaller blocks of time.
Rock. Pebble. Sand.
You may have heard this one before, since it's become quite popular on the internet, but it bears repeating. I was first introduced to this story in Highschool when I was in tenth grade. My science teacher placed an empty jar on the table and proceeded to place large chunky rocks into it. When he couldn't fit any more rocks, he asked, “Is it full?” to which the class replied, “Yes!”.
“No!” he said and proceeded to drop in tiny round pebbles to fill the space between the large chunky rocks. When he could not put in any more pebbles, he asked, “Is it full?”
Warily the class answered “Yes,” and he replied, “No!” and poured sand into the jar, filling the spaces between the pebbles.
Again he asked, “Is the jar full?” to which he got a murmured, half-hearted response to which he answered “NO!” and poured in a glass of water.
Breaking It Down
Even though breaking out a 3-day block or even a one-hour block may be unrealistic, ten minutes is often available here or there. Usually, you can grab some time before one task starts or another ends, or even grab the first ten minutes right after or right before work.
10 minutes x 365 days = 3,650 minutes
3,650 minutes = approx 60 hours = 1.5 work weeks
What? One-and-a-half work weeks?! That's twice as much time as I get recording with 3 full-days blocked out.
So, if you can manage an average of four ten minute blocks a day - you have just bonused yourself the equivalent of 6 work weeks a year! Congratulations, you deserve it.
Tips and Caveats
It’s about prioritizing the important stuff. What is your passion? If you really believe in it - take the time. Use ten minutes for whatever purpose you may need. Perhaps it’s rest and meditation.
Tips: In order to be able to truly take advantage of ten minutes, you need to be able to pick up your project right where you left off. Cut down the prep time. Choose apps that start fast and can be accessed from any device. Leave your project open. Create a dedicated space so you can leave your project right where you left it.
Caveats: Some deadlines really require every moment you can spare. During those days you may choose not to take your ten; just don’t make it a habit.
We will always have rocks like work and school. We will always have pebbles like dinner and laundry. Be sure to take advantage of the sand like playtime and talk. And don’t forget the water - the time between things.
What could you do with your next ten minutes?