So, my third year of college I did like a lot of people did, I studied abroad, and I lived in Madrid, Spain. It was so much fun, one of the most amazing things about it was just getting a chance to travel. Went down to Morocco and saw snake charmers. Hiked in the Swiss Alps, went to Italy, did all of these wonderful things, and when you do that you backpack, right? And when you start off, of course you carry a really big backpack, and you bring everything that you think that you need. Eventually, after having traveled a little bit, your backpack of choice becomes one which is much smaller. And the thing that you learn is that the size of your pack determines how much you carry. We tend to just fill it up regardless of what it is. And the same thing is true in life. My wife and I, when we were first married, we lived in this little studio apartment, and of course we filled that up. Then we moved to a bigger apartment, we got some more stuff. Then we moved to a condo with a garage. Then ...
we filled that up, now we live in a house. And we continue to just fill the space that we have. And this is also true with time. And Parkinson had this law, here's what he said. He said, "Projects swell to the amount of time given." And I know this is true because I taught at the college level for about a dozen years. And I would be giving assignments all the time. And every time, or every semester, I would change the amount of time I would give for an assignment. Let me explain this a little bit. So, let's say that the assignment was to go out and photograph, I don't know, a stranger. And I would say, you need to photograph 10 strangers, today is Monday, it's due on Friday. So the students would go out and do the work. Then, the next semester, I would give the same assignment. You gotta go out and photograph 10 strangers, today is Monday, it's due Wednesday. And they would go out and do the work. Now, which assignments were better, The ones which I gave more time, or less? It was always less. Now that deadline was arbitrary. As a teacher I was just making it up. But what would happen to the students is they would always put it off to the final day, then they would scramble, and then when they would scramble something wouldn't work, and then they would turn in their stuff. With the shorter deadline, they had more intent, more focus, and somehow that refined what they actually created. You know, when it comes to creativity, the amount of time and the way we think of time can shape the things that we actually do. Now it isn't just about having less time, but it's also about being aware of our on time. Each of us, you, and also me, we have time when we are most productive. For me it's in the early hours of the day. Now the early hours of the day, they count for almost four times, they're almost four times as powerful as my hours in the afternoon. My time in the evening, well I'm useless. I can't do many creative things there. If I'm working on a writing project, I know I have to write in the morning, and it's always better there than if I write in the afternoon, if I write at night, I usually have to just throw it away. And so learning what your on time is very important, right? And we all have kind of this sense of what that is, what those two or three hours might be. But what we don't do, necessarily, is protect and guard that time. If you wanna get really creative, if you want to create amazing work, you need to start guarding that time with your life. And you need to say, you know what, I'm blocking this out, I'm not doing other, passive things. This is how it worked for me at least, early on. Back in the days when we used to get newspapers One of the things I would do in the morning, is I would read newspapers and kind of passively absorb information. Then I started to realize that doing something like that early in the day, which was passive, versus creative, was a complete waste. So I saved the newspaper for the end of the day. So I saved that activity for another time. So it's like shifting what you're actually doing. So what I encourage you to do is to begin to think about, right now, just pause this, write down, well what's my on time? What are my magic hours, maybe it's between 12 and two AM, and it's those midnight, your night owls, those times. Well figure out, how can I then do my good stuff, the stuff that I really wanna create then. So take some time to think about that. The other thing is to think about the flow of time. When we think about flow, what tends to happen is that if we're working on a project, at least for me, I can't get into my rhythm or my flow right away. Creativity takes a little bit of warm up. In other words if you say, Chris, create, now, go! I kinda freeze. I have to go through a little bit of a ritual. I have to sit down, I have to stretch, I have to make sure my desk is clean. I have to get down a few thoughts, and then eventually, all of a sudden that flow, that rhythm, well it turns into a gush. And I get carried away in what it is. But knowing those different parts of the way that time works can help as well. Eventually that gush turns into a trickle, and I'm just hanging on to the thread, there I need to stop, get up, and walk away and do something else. Alright, so a few thoughts on time and creativity, let's review. One is this idea that time will swell or projects will swell to the amount of time that you give them. I'm guessing you give your projects too much time. Well, one day I'm gonna make that film, one day I'm gonna do those photographs, one day I'm gonna put those together and create those prints. Well it can't be one day, that's just ambiguous, it's too much, you need to say by next Tuesday, this thing is done, or by this month, this is complete. Set the deadline for yourself, make it precise. It's done on Tuesday, at 10 PM, bam, that is it. The next thing is to ask yourself about, thinking about when is your on time. What's your on time, begin to guard it, and then begin to become aware of your flow time as well, so that you can say, well hey, there's a different rhythm. When you think about the rhythm, if you need an analogy, it's like the space shuttle. The space shuttle uses more energy in lift off, it's called activation energy in science, in those first few moments than it does in it's entire flight through space. And so you need to say, okay, well how do I then guard or protect or use, or utilize that time so I can get where I need to go?