I was at Harbor Freight the other day and saw a guy in this t-shirt:
I have a similar saying in my life: “You can rule the world in ten minutes a day.”
I know not everyone is as in-love with scheduling their time as I am, but nearly every day in my planner it says “Q15” and “R20” for “quilt fifteen minutes” and “read twenty minutes.” Much like writing, these are things I have to remind myself I do because I love them, but when there are only so many hours in a day (at last check, twenty-four), they get shoved off the to-do list in service of more pressing matters like committee meetings or grading. But I’ve found out that if I assign them as a task they’re more likely to get done and I have the added benefit of crossing them off. Plus I’m happier and more balanced at the end of the day.
There are some things I don’t like doing so much like clean out old files or prepping a room to paint, and for these, I assign a random amount of time and set a timer (twelve minutes and seventeen minutes are favorites; not too long and not the full-on commitment of twenty minutes) and usually I find at the end I’ve gotten more done than I would have guessed. I also usually do an extra minute or two to finish up what I’m working on. And low and behold, at the end of a week, I’ve gotten somewhere and have realized the tasks I want to put off don’t take nearly as long as I would have guessed. How long do you think it takes to empty the dishwasher, for instance, yet how much time do you spend dreading it?*
Most days I have W30 in the planner too. Love it or hate it on that particular day, I only have to write for thirty minutes. If I set aside all my time for one big writing day where I write for four hours, chances are it’s not going to happen. That will end up being the one day a week I blow off writing, and so it’s better for me to have the eggs spread out over many baskets. People say they can’t get into a story or get any real work done in thirty minutes, to which I kind of call bullshit. If you’re working regularly and steadily, it doesn’t take more than a minute or two to catch up from the day before and move forward.
I promise you this: small writing tasks – only twenty to thirty minutes a day – will get you to the end of a project.
*Three minutes. Can you believe it?