Cole’s* grade school cello teacher Mr. Hoppe reminded his students at the end of every lesson to practice during the week. He encouraged the kids to set a timer and commit to practicing for just five minutes a day. Mr. Hoppe always said that “starting is the hardest part.” He knew that once the cello was out of its case and the bow was in place, it was likely that the practice would go beyond five minutes. While Cole’s cello lessons ended a long time ago, his teacher’s wise words about “starting” are often quoted by his students and their parents.
I’ve always admired the person who is able to utilize small amounts of time to knock off a phone call or make a five minute trip to the grocery store. However, that person isn’t me. Most of my phone calls take at least 15 minutes and that’s if the call doesn’t start with “Please listen to our options, our menu has recently changed.” A trip to the grocery store is 45 minutes if the person in front of me isn’t using coupons. I like to work in blocks of time; I write blog posts early in the morning, run errands on Tuesday, and take care of paperwork in the early afternoon. When I start something, my first goal is finding blocks of time to work on it. Unfortunately, blocks of time fill up quickly, leaving me with a short need-to-do list and a very long want-to-do list.
A top priority on my want-to-do list was organizing and labeling my collection of over 8000 digital pictures. This would make finding the pictures I needed a snap. However, starting the process of organizing my pictures was hard, because I didn’t have a chuck of time to devote to the project. Starting to organize my pictures was the hardest part. Playing hide and seek with my pictures continued until about four weeks ago when, as I searched for a picture, it dawned on me that if I devoted a few minutes every day to the project, my pictures would be better organized than they were the day before. With that ah-ha motivating me, I set my timer and started culling and labeling pictures. When the timer dinged thirty minutes later, I had labeled about 60 pictures. Four weeks and thirty minutes a day later, I’m able to search my pictures and find the one I need.
Organizing my pictures in small increments of time worked so well that I decided to cross my goal of joining a gym, hiring a personal trainer, and working out 5 days a week off my want-to-do list and instead set my timer and walk every day for 20 minutes. I’m not setting any records but I’m walking every day rain or shine and lapping everyone sitting on the couch.
It’s hard to start cleaning out a musty old shed when you know something larger than a mouse has been living in it all winter and your sweet mother has instilled in you a fear of brown recluse spiders. I started by asking Cole to open the shed door. My logic was that if something ran out, he was younger and quicker than his mother. Wearing heavy gloves, we began to remove one item at a time from the shed. Two weeks and twenty minutes-a-day later, the shed is empty, clean, and beast free.
Allow me to segue into an update about the Coke Mosaic (I know you have been waiting with baited breath). For the past seven days, I have hammered bottle caps into the top of my fence for twenty minutes every day. By Friday, I had finished two sections of the fence. As long as I maintain a stash of bottle caps, I should finish the coke mosaic project in about 3 weeks. The mosaic is a great visual example of what a little bit of time each day can accomplish.
If there is something you’ve been wanting to start or finish, then grab your timer, step over the starting line, and you’ll be crossing the finish line before you know it! We can work together! Coke Mosaic update next Friday. Maybe you’ll have an update too!
Odd Loves Company
*My 17 year old son