Creatively Responding To Lack Of Time

Time and the Big Rush To Create and Do

Time Warp
Looks like a time warp
San Francisco, 2013

Creatives, multi-taskers, busy bees or “scanners” like me who try to work full-time while maximizing creative opportunities can all agree that one of the most aggravating and emotionally draining concepts is the one of time – there’s never enough of it! Last month, my solution to the challenge of time seemed easy: Create a list of tasks to complete each week and write them on a dry erase board, cross off completed tasks at the end of the week and then start with a new list the following week.

At the end of the first two weeks, I was just giddy with delight crossing all these tasks off my list… that is, until I couldn’t get to two of the tasks…then three of the tasks, then four. It felt like “failure.” 

What I realized is that my tactic hadn’t changed anything. I was recreating the same problem that caused the anxiety for me in the first place: Rushing to complete tasks that I wasn’t fully engaged in and then running out of time. Sister Mary Ellen wasn’t the only one who used to shake her finger at me quite a bit for rushing through my writing class in the fourth grade!

It’s not time itself, it’s how you respond to it

Tara Brach says,

“When we rush through life, we violate our own natural rhythms in a way that prevents us from listening to our inner life and being in a resonant field with others. We get tight. We get small. We override our capacity to appreciate beauty, to celebrate, to serve from the heart.”

If we can ignore all the voices telling us how much we have to do and how urgent it is to get it done NOW, we instead allow a space of mindfulness presence. And with being fully present, you feel alive and completely and totally engaged with what you’re doing.

Manhattan rush
Manhattan Rush
New York, 2013

So instead of the weekly list, I created a “parking lot” of all the “to do” items I can think of that create anxiety for me. I keep adding to the list when I think of new things, but my new tactic is working: Each day, I decide on only one task and here’s the trick: I try to focus on that one task with complete mindfulness presence. It’s such a simple idea, yet we make it all so complicated.

I’m glad that I’m am not freaking out as much about all I have and want to do.  The truth is, it’s not all urgent. It’s just fear saying that it won’t happen. Once you grasp this concept, you can begin synchronizing it with your conditioned behavioral responses.  How do you change your response? Just stop midstream, take three deep breaths and dip into mindfulness presence.

This, from a dear friend this morning who helped me anchor in the truth of this post.

Do not try to save

the whole world

or do anything grandiose.

Instead, create

a clearing

in the dense forest

of your life

and wait there


until the song

that is yours alone to sing

falls into your open cupped hands

and you recognize and greet it.

Only then will you know

how to give yourself to this world,

so worthy of rescue.

Clearing, by Martha Postlethwaite

Key Biscayne Mindfulness
Key Biscayne, 2013

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