The Five-Minute Rule

Came across this post I did awhile back for an online website class.  It gave me a (literally) timely reminder of the power of increments:

When I saw the ad for a workshop in Time Management I almost didn’t take it. What little time I had was already so eaten up by responsibilities that there wasn’t even a stray minute left to manage.  Then I figured, what the heck—the workshop was online, so I could do things at my own pace; maybe I’d actually learn something helpful.  If all else failed, I could always drop out.bluesilver clock

Early on in the workshop I was asked to name something  I really wanted to do but hadn’t been able to fit in my schedule.  I was to imagine there was nothing preventing me from doing this thing, and I was not to limit my response in any way.

My “something” was writing.  I used to write all the time when I was a kid; when I was older, I had a few pieces published in a small local magazine.  Writing fell by the wayside as life became increasingly complicated, sometimes traumatic,  and always demanding.  I promised myself that “someday”, when I got everything under control, I would devote huge blocks of time to writing.  But the likelihood of getting everything under control was laughably small; whenever I  finally managed to get one tiny little piece of my life working right, another piece would go spectacularly to hell.  I was too busy putting out fires to even think about writing.

As the workshop progressed I was asked to carve out just five minutes each day to devote to writing.  Anything I managed beyond that five minutes was gravy, but those five minutes were to go to the top of my to-do list every day without fail.  At first I laughed—what could I possibly accomplish in five minutes?  Then I thought about the minutes I spent in the parking lot at work five mornings a week, dreading going in and bemoaning my lot in life.  I got a small notebook and devoted those minutes to writing whatever popped into my head, no editing allowed.

And the words came.   Slowly at first, but they quickly picked up speed.  I found myself looking forward to that parking lot time and groaned when I had to stop.  I spent my lunch hours writing.  I carried the notebook with me everywhere  in case an idea staged a surprise attack while I was cooling my heels in line at the grocery store.

I filled that first notebook, then another, and another.  A storyline unfolded, characters came to life.  Every evening I’d transfer what I’d written onto my computer.  On weekends I’d sit down to do my “required” five minutes; three hours later there would be feline melodrama over late suppertime.  Hit “save”, feed cats, back to writing.

The storyline became a book. It’s  on another tab as I’m writing this piece.  It’s called “Old Wolves”, it’s currently at—let me check—294 pages.

I’m already in the early stages of my next book.  It’s in a notebook right at my elbow.  I know I can finish it it— all I need is five minutes a day.


photo credit: tronixstuff via photopin cc