I listen to what people say and file away pieces of advice from nearly everyone. I rarely get advice from my mother. She’s never been one to tell me what to do, so when she does, I take note. Once she told me something quite simple: As you get older, you have less flexibility about moving to new places and pursuing any interest you want, especially if you get married, and have children. She was right.
Of late, I’m amazed at how little time I can devote to my interests. But here’s something I’ve learned. Even though it’s difficult to make time for my projects, when I scrape aside a teeny bit each day, over a month or two, I can accumulate quite a pile of it.
Case in point: Recently I committed to gardening 15 minutes each day for a month. Every day I’d carry my stopwatch, trowel, weeder, and gloves to the front yard, set the timer for 15 minutes and get to work. One day I weeded the section for strawberries, the next I planted. Another day I prepared an area for tomatoes, the next I potted. Some days I couldn’t get in my 15 minutes until after dark. Several evenings, I weeded the sidewalk strip by streetlight.
But did you know you can plant a 6-pack in 15 minutes? And you can fill 7 terracotta pots in the front of a garage in ¼ hour? Each day I chose a new area of my yard and each day I saw progress. Fifteen minutes a day over two months accumulated to 15 hours, a chunk of time I never would have been able to have all at once.
I have other projects in the cue: more writing and theater. And I have grander ideas too.
I like to think I could use this 15-minute project technique to start a quiet revolution. I imagine things in the world outside my home that could be accomplished by working on them 15 minutes a day.
So feel free to take this mother’s advice. Our time may become less flexible as we get older, but if you have dreams and hopes perhaps you too could carve out a bit of time and plant your garden.