the power of fifteen minutes

i am an excitable, daydreamy, all-over-the-map with ideas kind of person...

in my studio, there are journals filled with notes and sketches, lists of projects scribbled on sticky notes, and inspiration boards bursting with paper scraps and photos.

generating ideas is really fun for me.  i love it!  in bursts of a-ha! and in moments of sheer delight, i record the gazillions of things i want to do and make.

but making the ideas happen consistently...ah, therein lies the challenge for me.  i am so easily swept into busy-ness and distraction. 

because of this behavior, i am frequently experimenting to figure out how to get myself to be more focused and productive.

here is the latest experiment:
my trusty new timer.

here it is with a plate of warm cookies...

as i mentioned yesterday, i am learning the value of small, consistent actions.

i am using the timer to practice this concept.

here's what i do:
  • walk into my studio.
  • write down three ideas i want to accomplish.
  • set the timer for fifteen minutes.
  • start with the first thing on the list and work on it until the timer goes off.
  • stop.  (ack! this is soooo difficult for me!)
  • move on to the next thing on the list and work for fifteen minutes.
  • stop.  (still painful.)
  • do the third thing on the list for fifteen minutes.
  • stop.  (grrrr.)
  • go and play!
often at the end of this session three things have only been started, not finished.  this might sound frustrating, but it's actually so satisfying to me:

* an idea that is started is better 
than one that exists only in my head. *

with a few more rounds of this process, these things often get finished much more quickly than i ever imagined possible.

i don't work like this all the time.  sometimes i need more than fifteen minutes to dive into a project.  but when i get that timer fired up, crazy amounts of ideas start coming to life.

the same thought occurs to me every single time i hear the beeping: 

* i can't believe how much i did in fifteen minutes. *


i used this process all weekend in one or two hour increments and got so much done.  it felt wonderful!

if you have not tried this method and would like to, i feel that the two key ingredients are:
  • stop when the timer says to stop.  (really, this is absolutely essential for the system to work.)
  • play at the end of the cycle.  (go outside, have a snack, read a book, dance around...anything fun.  but don't keep working, no matter how motivated you are.  just go play!)

so...do any of you have similar methods to your creative madness?


ALFIE said...

LOVE this idea!

i am a chronic "list maker". i have lots of little papers covered with spurts of inspiration. i find my creativity comes in big waves. i feel this urge to start swimming in my ideas. and i dive in. will work on something for hours and hours till it's complete. or until i've beaten it into a pulp. i have no method. i should take a lesson from you :)

Janie said...

This is a fantastic idea! Like ALFIE, I'm also a chronic list maker. More often than not, my ideas just get left on the crumpled piece of paper I wrote it on. But when creativity strikes, I become so engrossed that a the end I'm so burnt out!

Heidi pumpkin pie said...

oh lord, no wonder we get along! I'm the same exact way
and....are you ready for this?
I use this website to do the EXACT same thing as your timer!!
you gotta squash those tomatoes!! The 25 min. spurts with 5 min. breaks are AWESOME.


on my day off I write my blogs like this. I realized that I need a system when one day I wanted to update my blog and was surfing the internet for an hour! I was not happy to see I wasted that much time.