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What Can You Do With 15 Minutes?

Written by Mary Nelson Zadrozny
© 2004-2011 Just Imagine Design & Publications
My friend Katie and I were talking one day about balancing our art careers with other responsibilities. Well maybe talking isn't the right word; I was venting a bit. January is tax time, which I always resent because it takes me so long to prepare my forms, balance my records, look for that missing receipt, and so on. I can spend days in a haze of paperwork and I hate it because it keeps me from what I really want to do; painting, designing new quilt patterns, and moving forward with my business.

Katie told me about a concept she tries every day. No matter how busy her day, she strives for just 15 minutes of sketching, painting or even if she is too tired to do anything else, she reads something about art.

I thought that sounded pretty easy. Fifteen minutes is not that long. I have wasted that much time and then some on all kinds of things like reading the newspaper, deleting spam, watching a TV show I don't even have interest in, etc.

I love this idea for so many reasons:

  • Fifteen minutes isn't much, I can squeeze in that amount of time just about anywhere in the day.
  • Its not a huge commitment. I don't have to finish some major work of art. I can do a quick sketch, do a small amount on a work in progress, whatever I feel like. Its really more like play time.
  • Its easy to remember, a simple idea. Yet its simplistic nature is deceptive; it can make a big difference in how I feel. On crazy days when that 15 minutes is the only time I get to do my art work in that whole day, I feel at least I was able to make a little progress.
  • The time adds up. By the end of the week, that's already over an hour that I may have thought previously I didn't have to spare.
  • On days when I am procrastinating on starting a new painting or project, that 15 minutes gets me going. Usually once I start, I don't want to stop. Its similar to forcing yourself to work through a writers block.

    When I asked Katie, "What if you miss a day, then do you try for 30 minutes the next day?" And she said,"No. When the day is over, that's in the past. Don't make this little exercise something you dread. It should be something fun."

    Katie said that she started doing this technique when her kids were small, when 15 minutes was about the largest block of time she could fit in between diaper changes, feedings, etc. And she doesn't do this just with her art work, she does with other areas like housework, exercise, any goals she wants to make steady progress on.

    For now I am just trying it with my art work and I feel energized with the results. It's amazing how such a simple little idea can make such a big difference. Thank you Katie!

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