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“Prepare yourself in the subject so well that it shall be always on tap: then…trust your spontaneity and fling away all further care.”” William James

“A man grows most tired while standing still” Chinese Proverb

‘Deadlines and things make you more creative…’  Jack White of the White Stripes

Check in slip from manga cafe. If you exceed your time, there are extra fees. Often I am most productive when my time is running out. That’s what time boxing is all about.

I am at a mangakissa in Japan and I have 45 more minutes left on a three hour package.  I am on day 439 of a 595 day Japanese immersion experience through Silverspoon.   I have fourteen more days in Japan.   I don’t know how many days I have on Earth, but as far as I know they are not limitless.   I have just enough time to tell you that Time Limits Work!  Here are some reasons why:

  • limits have the power to turn tasks, goals into a game
  • time limits can turn things into a Mission Impossible thriller …how much fun would it be if Tom Cruise had all the time in the world to defuse a bomb, jump on a couch, etc?
  • limits have a way of increasing rather than decreasing creativity . . . can you say haiku?
  • time limits are a way to work through fatigue, perfectionism, procrastination and a seeming lack of inspiration

Confession.  This post did not begin in inspiration.  I arrived exhausted at the manga kissa.  I decided to just take a nap and check my emails and not expect or push much.  I clicked on an article from brainpickings.org on Tchaikovsky, the work ethic and inspiration.  Mr. T basically explains that you can’t wait for inspiration.  You’ve also have to put in the work.

Brainpickings also includes a youtube vid of Jack White talking about not waiting for inspiration.  White also talks about how the and White Stripes make limitations part of their work, to force creativity.  Though White is very wealthy now, he limits the studio time that they purchase to record an album.  He also continues to use old guitars even though he could buy a thousand better ones.   White does this to force himself to work within limits.

White talks about how creativity can come about by working within the box.  Time is the ultimate box and as any two year old will tell you, boxes are for play.  Khatzumoto introduced me to the concept of timeboxing and led me to other people like Steve Pavlina who use it as a productivity tool.  Basically, timeboxing involves using timers to set small limits to start or finish tasks.   Time boxes as small as one or five minutes can be powerful little tools for smashing through procrastination and opening up creativity and competence.

Spending a shorter time at the manga cafe allowed me to have time to walk around and see Fuji fully revealed. A lot of the times it is hidden by clouds.

I once took a drawing class at the Art Students League.  The class began with little one minute timed sketches of a model.  (no clothes, whatever).  You had to draw fast and loosen up because the (nude!) model would change positions once the time was up.  Then the poses became longer.  However, having those little drawing sprints helped loosen me up and I began to draw better.

Are you stuck on any big project or idea?  Take out a timer and play around with timeboxes.   Work with your limits and let it be your inspiration. The fact that I had limited time at the manga kissa today actually made it easier to start and keep moving.   I didn’t finish but I probably got more done than if I had all the time/money/breath in the world.

Get your timers and continue to let samurai time be on your side!

Structured and limited “push” time allows you to have more unstructured activity that can also help you learn and grow. I spent some time at a Book-off and found this cool book about angels, demons, etc.

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