Ok, so the studies have been my own…but most of my best discoveries come from the laboratory of my own life.
Smartphones don’t actually cause cancer as far as I know, but I have learned that my iPhone is like a tumor that is taking over my time, my attention and breaks up the flow of my creativity.
I am trying to write a book.
In the midst of running a consulting practice, managing 2 other business and raising 2 kids.
I know that is a little over-zealous, but it is something I really want to do. It feels like a book that wants to get written.
I just can’t find the time.
I feel this frantic pressure. I know it is an imaginary pressure, because I don’t have a deadline set by anyone other than myself.
Yet everyday, when I have plans to spend some time working on the book, I end up taking a call from a client or the dentist office, answering a text or responding to an email.
All of these things seem urgent.
I have to get something done or provide some information for someone. By the time I have 23 minutes left before the bus leaves my kids on the corner, I can’t write, it isn’t flowing, I am blocked. So one more day, no more progress.
This has now happened for many days in a row.
I have always been hyper-organized.
I have read all of the books and taken all the seminars about time management. I am good at managing calls, appointments, getting reports done, following up with people.
The difference is, those things only require that my brain accomplish a task. I have some mastery in the game of getting s&*t done.
But now I am choosing to do something that takes a different part of my brain, a different part of me.
Writing a chapter in a book, or painting, or composing is not the same as filling out a form or creating a spreadsheet.
I discovered that I was doing 2 things wrong.
- I was trying to shove writing between client meetings. While writing, I would watch the clock, knowing I had to save 5 extra minutes to pee.
- I had my iPhone on my desk. Every time it would chirp with a call or text I would look at it.
Because I am new at this “artistic” stuff, I didn’t realize how detrimental that was in blocking my creative flow.
I didn’t usually answer the call or text that came in, but it had my creative brain yield to my manager brain. It was just for an instant….but afterwards, it took me a few minutes to regain my rhythm and by the time I did, I was looking up at the clock again to make sure I still had enough time to pee.
While I bounced back and forth between my two “brains”, I had written 2 rather incomprehensible paragraphs. I knew it was terrible, and Molly (the voice in my head) told me that I was a just a sucky writer and should probably just give up; now would be better than later.
I really want to write this book, but I was stuck.
Those are the moments I always call my coach.
(Yes, even coaches have coaches. I always need someone to remind me of what I am doing, keep me on track with my projects and be kinder to me than Molly.)
My coach, in all of his brilliance, taught me about the “maker’s schedule“. (Astonishingly, there have been other people that have had this problem too.)
He confirmed that we can’t produce creative work in the same way we accomplish tasks.
(That also confirmed I was probably not brain damaged.) He told me that some of the great creatives of our time schedule themselves in blocks as long as days rather than in the 15 minute increments I had been taught to use in Outlook.
Some creatives have the freedom to take 3 days to focus entirely on their craft, 2 days as buffer days to handle the bills and emails, and 2 free days to actually have a life.
Though that sounded heavenly to me, I can’t take entire days to focus on my creative work. I have kids who need tending to and I have some other commitments that require my daily attention. But the concept is really useful.
Here is my modified version:
After the kids are off to school, I complete my morning calls and make sure there are no emergencies. Then, I use my afternoons for creative or buffer blocks:
Monday: 4 hour block of creative time
Tuesday and Wednesday: Cram in every appointment and client meeting I possibly can.
Thursday and Friday: Big blocks of creative time
Saturday and Sunday: Live life (what a novel concept!)
But here is the catch …
During the creative blocks, I turn my phone on airplane mode.
No calls, no texts.
It freaked me out a little, in case the school nurse called, but I realized that had only happened 2 times in 4 years and I found a work-around so they could get a hold of me in an emergency.
So far, I have produced more than I have in the last 4 months and don’t feel that overwhelming anxiety about not getting done what I really want to get done.
I have also found that the world still spins, even though I didn’t check my email or texts every 10 minutes.
Granted, school gets out next week and all of my new found plans could go to hell, but it gives me a new framework and freedom for creating my schedule in a way that allows me to accomplish what I want to accomplish, as well as what everyone expects from me.