I had a book to write, not only write but finish. I did not have a publisher yet setting deadlines, but I knew inside I needed to write and to get it done. I have 2 other books partially done and one that I need to rework, but this one I knew I had to get done. But I was distracted. Everyday there was something else that demanded my attention whether trivial or important. I kept setting goals to write 2 to 3 hours a day. That seemed reasonable. Gosh, I knew authors who wrote daily for 4 hours, even 8 hours. 2-3 hours should be doable, I told myself. However, there never seemed to be enough time in the day, or if there was on occasion, I just could not sit myself down for that long. I was like a little kid with no discipline it seemed. And so because I couldn’t see that happening, I didn’t start.
After a couple months of this, rather than apologizing to the Lord daily about my lack of discipline, I asked Him how I would ever get it done. Inside, I felt Him ask how I got my first novel (already published) written. I replied, “In 45 minute segments, here and there.” It was as if He said, “then do it again – it’s how you write”. Amazingly, that was my answer. I could easily set aside 45 minutes, and because I could, I did. Often those 45 minutes turned into an hour and a half and sometimes a few hours, but the 45 minute thinking allowed me to start. About 3 months later the book was finished.
I have since found that the 45 minute principle helps in all sorts of other things. Maybe I should walk an hour a day, but I just can’t get it together enough to do that. However I can walk 45 minutes. Sometimes in the morning I wish I could spend 2 hours in prayer and bible study, but with everything else that needs to get done, it won’t happen. I can often get in 45 minutes, though. And if 30 or 20 is all I can do on somedays, that’s OK.
Now, the chores. The closet sorting, the cleaning, and all those things we don’t enjoy. They take hours and hours. But wait, I can do 45 minutes. When it comes to that closet, I tell myself “45 minutes, that’s it. What I get done, I get done, and then I’m off to other things. Now, if I get into it and want to go longer, well I can if I want to, but all I’m promising is 45 minutes.
My sister-in-law’s closet collapsed – she said the closet cyclone hit and put a picture on facebook. I immediately commented: Go in 45 minute segments and do phase one . . . get rid of all the clothes you don’t like and know you’ll never wear. If you aren’t sure, just leave it. And take them away immediately if not sooner. The next day do phase 2: get rid of the clothes that don’t fit and adopt the thought ‘I can bless someone with this’ rather than ‘Oh Gosh, I really like it, so and so gave it to me, maybe it will fit next year’. And take them away. Phase 3 is those things that you so loved and paid so much for but after you got them home they just don’t work. It seems such a waste and you should really wear them. If so, wear them. But if you can push yourself a bit, be realistic and let someone else be blessed. When I do this I can fit what I actually wear into my closet space and I can see those great things I forgot I had.
You can apply the 45 minute principle to just about any chore and responsibility in your daily life – probably any pleasure, too. Only spend 45 minutes on that hobby, or puzzle, or facebook, or reading your favorite magazine, so you can still get the other things done that are necessary. You may have to adjust it to 30 minutes, but if you tend to procrastinate because the job is overwhelming and you know it will take so long, chunk it up and do it in incremental segments. You will always see progress this way and progress brings success.