Create in the Cracks: How to Find Time to Design Your Life

  • 4:45 AM - Turn off alarm
  • 4:45-6:45 - Personal Development Block: prayer, exercise, read, review plan for the day
  • 6:45-6:55 - Prayer time with husband
  • 6:55-7:05 - Prep lunch
  • 7:05-7:30 - Prep breakfast
  • 7:30-7:35 - Start car (It’s been single digits in the northeast lately; need it warmed up.)
  • 7:35-7:50 - Shepherd my crew (“Hurry up!” “It’s after 7:30!” “Eat your breakfast!”)
  • 7:50-8:05 - Drop my crew to their schools
  • 8:05-8:45 - Walk dog

By the time I had sat down at my desk at 9 AM today, I felt like I had run a half-marathon!

That was just my morning TODAY.

Some mornings include dropping off my husband at the train station or doing someone’s hair. (I could do a whole series on the hair thing!) Or when I have early appointments, everything listed above gets compressed to account for my personal prep time.

Whether you go to “work,” work from home or are a SAHM/D (stay-at-home-mom/dad, the ultimate work from home gig), I know you can relate.

Years ago, I had a rhythm from my single years that I transferred to my married life. I employed elaborate systems to accomplish my tasks. It was all very civilized and manageable.

Then, we had children…

And, I became a SAHishM*. And suddenly, my “systems” went haywire.

I found that I couldn’t keep up with anything. Ever. I was paralyzed by the lack of time to thoroughly do anything. So, I started putting things on the back burner to be taken care of when I had the time. That extra time, never materialized.

Around then, I stumbled upon a website that promoted an idea that revolutionized my thinking. I cannot recall the name of the site but it was a great resource for women trying to manage it all. I only incorporated a few of its methods. But one thing I do remember is this statement: “You can do anything in 15 minutes!” It was on every page of the site.

I began using fifteen-minute blocks to address some of my abandoned responsibilities and found that it worked. And as my family continued to grow, and my time became more congested, this tactic was critical.

Recently, I began applying this time blocking idea to my work schedule. The task list is ever-increasing for the business owner. And time is a valuable commodity. When I use time blocks to focus on my assignments, they get done.

For example, my mornings (after the kids are in school) are dedicated to what I call my Creative Block. This is when I create new content and explore my creative ideas. In the afternoons, I dedicate a block for professional development. I call is my L&D Block (learning and development).

The rationale behind this set up is partially based on my personal wiring. I am the quintessential morning person. Research states that humans have a minimum of 50,000 thoughts per day. That’s about 35 thoughts per minute. In the mornings, I estimate that I have about 50-75 thoughts per minute, mostly creative or strategic ones. Blowing the statistics out of the water!

But don’t catch me after 8 pm…I can barely recall my children’s names by then! LOL.

Let me clarify one thing…these work time blocks are not only fifteen minutes. They range from 90 minutes to 3-4 hours. For the longer sessions, I set a timer to remind me every 45 minutes to take a five-minute break. This has been proven by neuroscientists to support learning and build cognitive stamina.

I took the concept of the 15-minute task attack to designed my own version of the idea with time blocks that work for me.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast where the host was interviewing a recording artist. The singer, who is a mother of three children under 10 years old, shared how she had found time to write and record her latest project. She said, “I learned to ‘create in the cracks.’” That phrase stuck with me and made me think of how I am using my own “cracks” to build a business and life that brings value (I hope) to others. For some reason, that was validating for me.

Can I encourage you for a moment?

As you stumble upon practices that intrigue you, try them. See how they fit with you, how you're wired, how your life flows. If they work, great. If not, tweak them by creating a pros and cons list. And if the tactics still don’t work, move on. Not every strategy is for everyone.

But don’t give up.

Keep striving to design and live your best self and life. One that reflects your gifting and doesn’t rob you of your peace. Try time blocking. Use it in your workplace and/or at home. I’d love to hear how it works for you.

Until next time…

XO,

R

*SAHishM™: abbreviation, stay-at-home-ish-mom,
A mother who has chosen to stay at home to manage her household and to care for her family, while serving and working outside of her home in her business and/or community.
— Regina L. Henry