When my baby daughter was born, I remember being quite intent on trying to figure out how I was going to maintain my writing practice (I had a few projects still on the burner).
Pre-baby, my relationship to time was one of relative control (luxurious chunks of 6 hours on weekend mornings; 2-3 hours during a typical teaching day). I sought out other mothers who were also artists, and I tried to emulate them: some wrote into the night (I fell asleep just thinking about doing that.) Some got up early in the morning, a couple hours before the baby (I tried that a few times, but I always fell asleep at my desk.)
At some point it occurred to me that trying to “find” time was simply not working. Time simply wasn’t to be found. If it was hiding, it was doing a really good job of it. Plus, with so much of my time focused on the baby, I had no energy to play hide and seek with an invisible entity. The game made me crabby and irritable.
And so, I figured out how to relax into the flow of time as dictated by the baby. She had a schedule, and I followed her into it. What I found was time—not a lot of it, but there were some increments: 30 minutes here, 45 minutes there. On occasion, an hour.
Something interesting happened: instead of getting angry or resisting the baby because she “stole” my time (as if time was no longer “mine” ) I became hyper-focused in the short bits of time that I did have. And I found that I could get a lot more work done in 30 minutes than I used to get done in 2 hours.
Doing this had a several positive outcomes: Firstly, I became a much more present mother. When I was with the baby, I was with the baby. Secondly, because those short bursts of time when I could work felt so good, a track was maintained for my writing practice.
When she went to school and I suddenly had more time, I realized something that time-gurus (yes, they exist) had figured out: the human brain works best in short increments. My baby taught me how to do “time-boxing”—and as I continue to practice it, I find that I have more time, and I am able to be much more productive.
“Time-boxing” is an interesting metaphor–does it mean putting time in box, or boxing it into submission? I prefer to think of the practice as sculpting. In this way, time becomes material—and hence an art project in and of itself.
If you are a writer or artist and feel that your relationship with time is not what you want it to be, come to my 3-hour workshop at the Millay Colony’s NYC site on November 12, 10-1pm.
I will present you with guru time-management strategies that have worked for me, and that work for many of my clients who used to struggle with procrastination.
I will also guide you with visualizations and techniques from hypnotherapy that will allow you to unconsciously transform your relationship to time.
And through the combination of conscious (time management) and unconscious (emotional blocks, areas of unproductive resistance) you might just leave the workshop feeling hopeful that your art or writing practice remains alive and well—even if, for the moment, it feels trapped in time.
Time Sculpting: A Workshop for Parent Artists
November 12, 10am to 1:30pm
The Millay Colony, East Village Annex