Let’s Talk About Time

I seem to remember that back in high school, there were days that seemed to drag on forever. Every minute lasted an eon; every hour went on forever. If only I’d know then that that was the absolute last time there would ever be Enough Time, maybe I would have done something useful with those long, unappreciated moments.

Probably not, though, given the nature of adolescence. You wouldn’t have been able to tell me anything about the future.

As adults, we’re all looking for ways to squeeze out extra time. More time, free time, spare time. And isn’t that a weird concept: spare time? Like we’ve got some extra we don’t really need and could offer it at a garage sale to someone who wanted it for cheap?

If you’re doing creative stuff and have projects in addition to everything else you have to do in life, you’re probably like me, always trying to figure out how to get better organized and weed out the things that suck up minutes like an industrial vacuum. I’ve done rather a lot of thinking about this because of my last book, Creative Time and Space: Making Room for Making Art. While at its core it’s not about actual physical time–it’s about adjusting the way you think about time and space, creating room in your brain for creativity–it does have rather a lot of information about time gathered from a lot of fabulous artists who’ve given the subject a great deal of thought.

So we’re going to talk about this a little this week. The first thing you need to do, though, before you can figure out how to arrange your life so you have more time to make stuff, is first understand where your time goes. What eats up those moments between breakfast and the morning commute, even if that commute is just down the hall to your studio? Those hours between dinner and bedtime–where do they go?

So make a list. Make a pie chart. Make a timeline–however you think of “time” and however you visualize the hours in your day, make yourself a chart or a graph that allows you to see how you spend those hours. Be honest–don’t list 7-10 pm every weekday as “helping kids with homework” if your kids go to bed by 8:30 and you’re actually doing a little online retail therapy from then until bedtime. Tell it like it is: if it’s online game-playing or QVC, list it. There’re no rules, and no one’s going to come and give you demerits for less-than-optimal time management. Nope. This is just to give you a place to start, an accurate idea of where your time goes. Next time we’ll look at what you can learn from that information and how you can start to use it to make more time for creativity.


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