Have you ever felt that there just aren’t enough hours in a day? That in order to truly be able to get into an important project, you need hours of uninterrupted time? And with this in mind, you keep postponing, waiting for the right moment, resentful that the perfect opportunity never arrives?
How do we find time, expand time, and recognize that it’s malleable? How do we throw ourselves into a project if there’s only an hour to dedicate to it? How do we not get frustrated with distractions, stay on course, and persevere despite time limitations? How do we succeed in this crazed world where there’s never enough time?
PAINTING EXPERIENCE WHILE TRAVELING WITH KIDS
I'm sitting on a little stoop by the most beautiful street in Cordoba. It took me a bit of time to determine the best spot so that search took away from the actual painting process. With two other little artists in tow, I know my journey into this landscape is limited. Their patience and stamina can run out any minute. I have to be quick about jotting down the essentials, focus unwavering, keeping the big picture in mind. Every few minutes, there's also a distraction in the form of whining or an urgent question, or a sudden spill that can initiate a tantrum in an instant if not handled in a kind, understanding manner. And yet my painting practice is precious, and I value it highly, so I persevere. I can't afford to wait around for the right moment.
It's quite magical how quickly one can get into flow under such tight time constraints. The painting leads me somewhere; multiple things happening simultaneously; hand - led on a journey of its own. Numerous brushes step in; color combinations emerge that are somehow in perfect harmony. Surely, there're missteps as my attention is divided, but knowing that the end can strike at any given moment, I'm not stuck on things being perfect.
WHAT IT TAKES:
Many times when I teach figure drawing, our 30-second sketches are by far superior to our 30-minute studies. Human brains adjust to time limitations and create in accordance with the given agenda. The more time you have, the more time you'll use AND VICE VERSA.
WHAT OTHERS HAD TO SAY
Luba: One of the most common pushbacks to suggested changes in people's behaviors, company processes, or technology stack used is either "Now isn't the right time" or "We are spread too thin as is," which essentially translates as we don't have time for it. In my books, Life Worth Living and How to FYAIL in Digital Transformation, I talk about the importance of taking large tasks, which seem scary and barely achievable, and breaking them into small achievable work items. In the context of Agile or Digital Transformations, we focus on that all the time. I think the concept of creating something valuable in a short amount of time and moving a needle on something larger is applicable to anything we do. We often push back on even attempting to try due to our limiting beliefs that we won't be able to finish. It is a total mind shift of how we approach getting anything done. I can say that I only have 15 min, so I don't bother starting to clean the house, or I can say in 15 min, I can scrub the toilet and wipe all the counters in the kitchen. It is not the whole house, but I now have clean counters and a clean toilet! How is that not valuable!? :)
"Talk about the value and ask: What can we achieve in the time we do have? This was a lean process. She made the best use of time - no wastage."
In the world of Agile Development in the High Tech industry, there is this concept of taking big chunks of work and slicing it into smaller chunks that you can finish within a shorter period. Often, those smaller chunks of work are broken up even further into sub-tasks. The idea is that if you have smaller tasks, say a couple you could finish within a day, then not only will you have this feeling of satisfaction of getting something to completion, but eventually, you will complete something BIG. For example, who has time to write a book? It seems like a huge task to take on. However, writing a blog is a lot more manageable. If you are not able to prioritize a full hour to write a blog, then in 15 minutes, you could come up with a story to share with others or comment on someone else's blog, which will eventually become part of a book. The key is to decide what you could accomplish in the shortest time block and to take action to do so! Eventually, those small actions will add up!
Aruna: This is beautiful! Embracing life as it comes with all its imperfections is beautiful and perfect in its own way. Finding those moments of stillness ( to persevere and finish the painting) amidst the chaos is where one meets life!! Although we get pulled into different directions playing multiple roles, we can still find moments of peace and tranquility and notice the beauty in what is rather than what it should've been.
On-time? Is our work ever finished? In an inexhaustible task-list kind of lifestyle, Buddha reminds us that by cultivating a mindset to create the most value at each moment, we can really enjoy the time. Being with the painting while the rest of life seems to be in a time-lapse video, we are still able to capture the essence of the present moment.
This sketch comes out the airiest, the most liberating, the most focused. A plein-air piece that I could relax into for three days has a very different, almost oil feel to it.
Therefore, all those times when my ego says stop, that there isn't enough time to engage, I have to stay vigilant and tell myself that time exists in another dimension and that there's always enough of it for at least one part of the project.
Make time to create, even if it's for mere 15 minutes!
I know this happens in other industries, the need to set a strict deadline and therefore be more productive and more accountable. How does this show up for you?