I wrote Creative Theology over the course of a few years, and during the time I was writing it I had at least one job. When it came time to buckle down, finish the content, and then complete edits, I has started my first corporate "real" job, and was working 45-55 hours a week on average. Oh, and I was newly married and we had just had a baby.
As you can imagine, there was no excess of time.
In that stretch of time where I was trying to write, edit, and crowd fund the publishing of a book, I learned two great lessons.
1. No matter how busy you are, you have time.
You may not have time for everything, but you naturally prioritize the things you care about.
I found that I was prioritizing the wrong things.
My day was full of wasted space because I took mini breaks to seek distraction. While breaks are healthy, it resulted in an inability to get things done because rather than clearing my head or filling up, I allowed social media posts and a relentless checking of email to swallow up my time.
Steven Pressfield calls this the Resistance.
Seth Godin calls it the lizard brain.
Whatever you call it, we've all experienced it: you have good, meaningful work to do and instead you watch a rerun on TV or check Twitter for the fifth time in five minutes and then check your email while you're at it.
That's why time is the great equalizer - we all have the same amount of it.
The one who uses their time most wisely makes the most meaningful work.
2. If you re-define "free time" you have more time than you need.
For me, this meant taking my two 15-minute breaks and one 1-hour break, and getting one-and-a-half hours of work done in that time. I am a huge proponent of taking time to rest, but there are points in our day where we "rest" (read: waste time) when we could be doing valuable work. For me, it was asking myself, instead of surfing the internet on my phone, could I use fifteen minutes to focus on editing?
Since my day job didn't often involve writing and editing, I never struggled to switch gears and focus. In fact, I was able to focus better because it was a change to what I spent the majority of my day doing. This allowed me to get a tremendous amount of work done in short bursts.
Also, the built in timer helped me stay focused because I knew that in 14...13...12...minutes, I needed to wrap it up and get back to my desk.
There was no time to be distracted.
By working in these pockets of throw away time throughout the day, I was able to minimize the amount of time I worked in the early morning, late night, and on the weekends.
Let's get practical...
If you feel like you don't have time to do the work you feel called to do, take inventory of how you spend your time. Take control of your calendar.
If you feel like you are required to work all sorts of crazy hours due to limited margin, take note of the throw away time in your day. Reclaim that time, and fill it with the work you feel called to do. The work that makes you come alive.
It may be a few short bursts that open up all sorts of margin you thought was impossible. And I'm confident it will…