As the season of intense rain in Northern California winds down, it’s time to face the tremendous amount of weeds taking over our front yard. This medium-sized triangular patch is full of sprawling clover, tough grass, dead dandelions, and scary spiky plants.
I actually like gardening. When we first moved into our home, I took an adult education course on native plants in California, and put in a few, but then I got so busy with work and life that the yard filled up with weeds again. I’d let them grow so high and wild that when I had a free weekend to pull them out, I could only clear a small patch.
Some years, I’d hire someone to remove the weeds, but then I didn’t make time to put in new plants, or keep up with the weeding, and the weeds returned.
Each day when I walk out the door, I feel a little sad when I look at our front yard. “Someday I’ll have time to create a nice garden/yard/flower patch,” I sigh. But it never happens.
This has been going on for over 10 years.
Someone recently suggested that I spend a half an hour each day weeding. “I know your schedule is super busy, ” she said, “Just give it a shot.”
I could think of all kinds of reasons this wasn’t going to work:
- What if . . . I can’t get my work done because I took time to weed?
- What if . . . I get so dirty I have to take a shower? I don’t have time for that!
- What if . . . I’m not strong enough to pull out all the weeds?
- What if . . . that mean-looking plant with the thorns attacks me?
Blah, blah, blah.
This past Monday, I turned the volume down on the “what if” recording and just did it. I set my iPhone alarm for 30 minutes and pulled weeds. Although I didn’t make a massive amount of progress, it was enough that when I walked out the front door on Tuesday morning, instead of feeling sad, I felt happy. “Well, look at that,” I thought, “I’m getting a little closer to what I want.”
On Tuesday afternoon, after I finished my work for the day, I spent another 30 minutes weeding, and on Wednesday another 30. Between each weeding session, I’d find myself thinking about what section I was going to work on next, when in the day I was going to do it, and future projects that could make our yard nicer.
Because I only weeded for 30 minutes each time, I wasn’t as wiped out as when I would try to tackle the whole yard in a weekend. In fact, I usually wanted to do more when the 30-minute timer went off.
Why am I telling you this story about weeding?
As I was weeding, I started to think about other large projects I’d like to accomplish in my life, and how much progress I could make if I set aside 30 minutes each day, which, if I actually did that for 365 days, would add up to 182.5 hours per year.
I’m thinking that there is probably a writing, or creative project, or business goal that you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but you can never find the time. One of the most common responses to my Calling All Healers survey was that many of you are part-time entrepreneurs either because you have a part-time, or full-time day job, and/or you are a part-time, or full-time caretaker to a parent, and/or children. Making time for your writing, creative work and/or business is a challenge. Perhaps trying a version of the 30-minute weeding experiment can help you make progress towards one of your goals.
It really helps that I can see the progress I’m making, so if you’re working on a project where the results of the time you’re spending isn’t immediately evident; create something visual to represent it, like the equivalent of a fundraising thermometer. You can see some ideas in my Pinterest search results for a “visual goal tracker.”
What is a writing, or creative project, or business goal that you could experiment with spending 30-minutes a day on?
If you try it, let me know how it goes!
Photos by Britt Bravo.