One of the most common obstacles I hear from dreamers, is that of not having enough time.
Now, to some extent, there may be a truth to how much free-time your specific situation allows you. You may be a carer or have two jobs in between meals and sleep: often the only pauses to breathe are those transitions between tasks.
However, in many cases, this is a choice of prioritisation, where tweaks could be made. Most people I work with watch a TV programme or find themselves spending ten minutes a day scrolling through Social Media posts.
I specifically focus on how little steps add up, because that’s how I’ve made a difference to goals and changes that stick. And if we really added up the five minutes here and there, it really can add up. If you found an extra 7 hours a month, what would you do with that time?
Carve out 15-minutes a day, and you have your extra 7 hours.
The Argument for Small Chunks
Some people feel they “just can’t get anything done in 2 minutes, so won’t bother trying.” As harsh as that may sound, it’s a decision that person has made, and thus often they may feel they don’t have any real time to complete any tasks beyond the daily fire-fighting of any situation.
It may be that in an ideal world, the optimal time for you to write your novel would be from midday to 2pm, because that’s when you’re awake and feeling inspired. However, if you genuinely can’t make a two-hour slot work, why choose to never even make a start on that story?
In 2012, I experimented with how much I could get written in “word sprints.” These were chunks of 5 or 10 minutes, where I took a random prompt, and ran with it.
Some days, I would average 50 words in 5 minutes.
During another slot though, I might reach 500 words in 8 minutes.
There were so many variables for the outcomes to respond to, but at the end of the day, I learned that writing for 5 minutes a day would add up across a week or month alot more than saying “I don’t have time to write.”
Focus on the Transitions
So many moments fall between the cracks: I call these spaces transitions.
When I finish a task or job, I pause. I may still move on the outside, but mentally I’m taking a breath. This is my chance to check in with myself: am I hungry/tired/thirsty/feeling okay?
I do this while the kettle boils, while hanging out the washing, and while moving from one room to another.
In a way, this is a consistent mindfulness practice woven into my every day routine; but it isn’t some rigid planned set of motions: it is just a reminder that I have the power to reflect in those spaces in between.
A reminder to connect with that flicker of drive inside and check I’m still walking on my Right Path. Because it’s easier to tweak your direction if you’re only just off the path.
Even Tiny Transitions Add Up
When I recommend including ‘healthy’ transition actions to your routine, I am not suggesting daily marathon training. In fact, you will only get me to run if there is a zombie apocalypse. And even then, I’d likely just hide with packs of biscuits.
But taking an action that ‘cares for us, long-term’ helps us to feel good.
Any action that will help you feel better counts. And if you can get these actions in, either one consistently, or a couple of different ones each week, it WILL add up.
I made a small change in June 2016: I committed to only having porridge oats, or 100% shredded wheat cereal. When I went shopping in early 2018, I bought an unhealthy cereal for a change, but the ‘protein-boost’ version, so I can pretend it’s healthier… In reality, it has more sugar, but protein will help my energy levels.
Sometimes, it’s as much about making the healthiest choice of not-perfect options and being okay with that. It can be a TINY action, because it won’t feel too difficult; there won’t be a great deal of resistance… but it WILL add up if you do a few of those a month.
Tomorrow’s ‘exercise’ plan is to do 5 minutes of yoga stretches, and turn the TV off 5 minutes early to sit with the cat before bed. However you choose to make use of your transitions, remember that each small steps matters.
They’re small actions, but across a year, those extra 10 minutes of choices a week may lead to better energy, to connecting with others, to feeling more grateful for the positives or, if nothing else, that’s nearly 9 hours of ‘self-care’ a year where nourished your health over what you already do.