After a presentation recently, a woman named Lauren came up to me and asked me “how do you find the time to do X?” She also asked, “how do you find the time to learn Y?” I paused for a second, then realized- I was about to share one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever learned. It has literally changed my life (seriously). The truth is, what Lauren was asking about- X and Y were both complex skills and things that took me months to complete. And they had nothing to do with my job (at the time), but they were things I wanted to do (admit it- there’s about 10 things on your professional and personal to-do list that you constantly make a poor of excuse telling yourself, “if I only had the time”).
So what is the secret?
What is it? First- it takes an attitude change.
Step 1 is to come to grips with the fact you will rarely get long periods or blocks of time to sit down and do what you need to do. You won’t get 6 hours magically one day to learn photography, learn the stock market, or how to use photoshop.
However, most of us get ten to twenty minutes here and there. And 5-minutes here, 20-minutes there, that adds up over time. The idea of “time quilting” is when you take advantage of those small blocks of time to make progress on X or Y (things you want to learn or accomplish). I can’t emphasize enough- it will take a positive attitude that you can make small steps forward on big things with 5-10 minutes. Trust me, you can do a whole hell of a lot in that amount of time. But at the same time, it does take some practice and skill to be able to train your brain to jump in and out of deep thinking/learning mode here and there.
The truth is, when you start re-thinking about the little scraps of time, 5-minutes you get here and there, it can often be enough time to write a blog post, learn a skill, reply to an email or move a side-project along (and I strongly believe everyone should have their side projects). Sometimes, I use the time just to think about 1 thing. 1 topic. 1 laser focused session to re-think problems, ideas, and concepts. It will change your life if you can master it. I promise.
What are the best places to time quilt? For me, they are at the airport, in-between meetings (walking in the hallway even), the doctor office, waiting rooms, coffee shops, after lunch, waiting for a friend to pick you up for dinner, waiting for your food to be served, subways and taxi’s. Often, I find that things I put in my Moleskine or in Evernote are the things I will start and stop with the time quilts that open-up for me.
I hope the idea of “time quilting” helps you! I should mention (and give credit) there are several people who believe in the concept of time quilting. I’ve heard from CEOs, VPs they all do this- but this concept was introduced to me years ago by Mr. Brogan, so THANK YOU Chris!