You’ve wanted to write a book forever – but each year goes by it doesn’t get written.
You’ve promised yourself you’d get rid of all the crap in the basement – and months have passed leaving you grateful you didn’t share your intention with anyone.
You’ve been meaning to set up a merchant account, read that book, start a blog, celebrate your 40th birthday party (eight years ago), learn how to knit, practice yoga.
And you keep waiting for that big long sabbatical on a white horse to show up at your door so you can do all of these things you don’t have time to do.
The truth is, even if it did show up, you’d probably panic and spend even more time on Facebook than you do already.
That’s because until we learn how to leverage our small windows of time, we won’t be all that great at using our big imaginary unending sabbaticals. However, the dream of days upon days of uninterrupted time with no appointments and no to-dos makes a very good excuse to not do what we say is the most important thing to us.
So, you can nod your head and continue to be disappointed in yourself.
Or you can take just THREE TINY STEPS and start getting your big things done in small windows of time.
1 – Define your Priorities by Creating a Master List
When you begin ANYTHING, start with definition.
And when you don’t define, then you don’t really know what you want to do. And when you don’t know really what to do, your small windows of time become meaningless. Easy to blow off.
Your first step is to make a list of what it is that you keep telling yourself you want to complete. Do you want to learn to draw? Begin a writing practice? Clear the clutter from your attic? Take time to meditate?
Write it all down so you define what’s important to you. This is your Master List.
2 – Pick one thing from your Master List and break it down into small pieces.
Pick one item on that list that feels the most exciting and/or do-able to you. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just choose one.
Ask yourself how to break this item down into small pieces. What elements could be completed in 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there? A quick bit of research? Choosing one limited area of the attic? Challenging yourself to write the first draft of an article in 30 minutes just for fun? A 10 minute centering meditation?
Write down those action steps.
3 – Do it and make it a habit.
Let’s say it’s noon. You have a lunch appointment at 12:30. That’s a good 25 minutes. You could “hop on line,” go to Facebook, check emails and blow that 25 minutes in a matter of seconds.
Or you can set your timer and challenge yourself to make even a tiny little bit of progress on the priority you wrote down.
This is the challenge. Even though it seems small, it can be big.
You’re asking yourself to shift a well-worn habit. That’s all. You’re choosing to honor a priority, rather than splatter your attention. Learn to stay conscious for your small windows – and when you have bigger windows show up, you won’t be as daunted!
If you really want to get something done, give it a deadline.
Promise someone it’ll be on their doorstep. Plan a party in your attic for all your snobbiest friends who will judge you if you don’t have it cleaned out. External motivation is very effective. (It’s why mastermind groups and coaching work so well!)
I challenged myself to write this article in a small window of time. My day is mostly done. It’s almost dinner time. I’m waiting for my husband to arrive home from work. I wanted to write a blog post.
And a cool woman named Amanda wrote me on Facebook to ask me how she – a busy young mom – could use her small windows of time to get some of her most important priorities done. This post is my response.
And I’m putting my theory to the test.
As I’m writing this sentence, my husband is walking in the door. It will take me another few minutes to check for errors – and post it on my site.
This took me exactly 25 minutes to write. No, it’s not a book. But it’s a start.
So think about it:
If you showed up for your small windows of time, what meaningful outcomes could you create?