Get started with 15 minutes a day

StockSnap_1HDO9I6J22.jpg

Get started

with 15 minutes a day

One of the most popular excuses I hear to justify not achieving our goals is ‘I don’t have enough time’.

Whether that’s being stuck in a job you hate, never getting around to starting that book, not writing those newsletters or setting up that blog.

You might say, ‘it's all right for you, but you don’t know my situation. Others might not have a family to look after, they don’t have ____ or ____’. Fill in your own excuses...

You may well be correct. But you know what? And let’s be honest here. There are only twenty-four hours in a day. We ALL have the same amount of time.

If I asked you to find two hours a day, that’s a lot to ask. Not impossible for some, but still a lot of time to find on a regular basis. I know I would struggle with that.

But what if I asked you to find 15 minutes? Now, I’m pretty convinced everyone can find 15 minutes, and a lot can be achieved in that time. If you think I’m wrong–as I don’t know your situation, tell me in the comments.

Parents are some of the busiest people I know. I am blessed to have five adorable nieces and I know a little of what it’s like for my sisters and their partners to raise their kids. It’s not easy by any means.

I love reading about parents who have stayed creative during this important life stage by simply not accepting that they don’t have time. This brilliant post by Mark McGuinness says it far better than I could–and with the relevant experience. Look at all the comments from parents too with their solutions to the challenges. Wonderful!

Now like me, you may not be bringing up young kids but still come out with the no-time excuse. But whatever your situation, my challenge for you this month is to find 15 minutes a day to be creative and work on a personal project you’ve always wanted to.

Don’t worry, I won’t just leave it there. Here’s five tips to help you get started.

1. Break it down

I would normally say just get started straight away, but if it's your first time trying this, I’d suggest spending the first 15 minute session planning what you’ll do for the subsequent 15 minutes each day. This could be breaking down your project into smaller parts to stop you from feeling overwhelmed.

For example, if you are thinking about leaving your job, but you don’t know what it is you want to do, spend 15 minutes filling in the exercises from books like ‘Screw work let’s play‘ or ‘Making a living without a job‘.

If it’s writing a blog post or starting your novel, the first 15 minutes could be simply writing down ideas. You can worry about deeper research or editing later.

2. Change your mindset

This step could easily go first. So many of our creative blocks are simply in our minds. We tell ourselves ‘I don’t have enough time’, then surprise, surprise, we don’t have any.

A proverb says ‘As a man thinks, so he is’ and I’m sure you can attest to this, that your thinking so often dictates your outcomes.

A quick example. I said for ages that I just did not have enough time to produce a fortnightly podcast. It was a nice idea, but not practical in reality. It takes great commitment to plan, record, edit and release one show–let alone a show every other week.

Along with my co-hosts, we ended up producing 47 episodes! That’s over a year and a half of making the time to do this every other week. Getting started, taking a risk, was what helped to change my mindset and show that I could do it. You can too.

3. Get it in your diary

You know when you are most creative and active, so use this to schedule the best time for your 15 minutes. What about getting up 15 minutes earlier in the morning, or staying up later? What about your lunch break–take a little less time for lunch and spend that time getting creative. What about 15 minutes less on Facebook or Twitter...or watching TV? It just takes some thought and just trying it out to find the best time for you.

Also, try adding ‘15 Minute Creative Session’ in your diary so it is a specific scheduled event that you see everyday when looking at your calendar.

When I was writing the first draft of my novella, I set my alarm clock an hour earlier so I could write for at least thirty minutes every other day. It was not easy. There were often days when I wanted to stay under the warmth of my duvet. But I managed it and completed the first draft in seven months.

Having the regular time really helped. Knowing that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7am as indicated in my calendar I would be writing, was one of the things that kept me focused to achieve my goal.

4. Get accountable

Accountability is a key way to provide motivation. One issue many creatives have is they often spend the majority of time working on their own. They are the only ones to see their work. However, regularly sharing what you’re doing can be an added incentive to follow through with it. And I’m not talking social media here–though this can certainly help. I mean deeply sharing person to person, how you’re getting on with your project, what issues you’re facing and being able to talk and think through how to overcome them.

This is where a coach can really help. Someone who can truly listen to you, help you think through what’s holding you back, and help you plot a path to achieving your goal.

If you know that someone will be regularly asking you how you’re getting on with your project you are giving yourself a much better chance of it actually happening.

5. Visualise the end goal

In my coaching sessions I start by focusing the clients mind on the outcome of what they want to achieve. Let’s say you want to write and publish a book. I might ask questions like, tell me what it feels like to be a published author? How does this impact your life and the people around you? Describe to me what it feels like to see your book on the shelves of Waterstones...or hearing people discussing it on the radio?

You see, it’s all about the bigger picture. We tend to focus too quickly on the details and all that needs to be done to achieve the goal. Soon we suffer from decision fatigue and overwhelm, thinking ‘there’s just too much to do...I don’t know where to start...it’s impossible!’. But visualising the endpoint–much like 100 metre runners visualising the whole race before it happens, seeing exactly how they want it to go, what they want to do–puts into perspective the details and individual aspects of what we need to do to achieve the goal.

If you do something just for the sake of doing it, you will only get so far. It’s the bigger vision or purpose that can drive you on during those cold dark mornings when you start thinking ‘do I really want to quit my job and do something I’m more passionate about?’, ‘do I really need to get out of bed now?’.

My personal mission for example, is to encourage, equip and motivate ambitious creatives to fulfill their God-given potential. That’s what drives me. It’s what I believe is my purpose. It’s the vision of seeing so many wonderfully creative and capable people not accepting the status quo, ignoring those negative voices, taking risks, making the time to be creative and fulfilling their potential...and it can start with just 15 minutes a day.

Over to you

So back to that challenge. What project will you work on for 15 minutes a day? Feel free to share it with me in the comments or via email.

If you’re still struggling and need help with this, let me know, that’s what I’m here for. Get in touch to see how working with me can help you achieve your goals.