How a 6 Minute Timer Helped Me Get Stuff Done

There have been many times in my past when I’ve let projects build up. Whether it’s housework or creative projects, at times, I’ve drifted away from showing up to do the work. When I finally decide that it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get back at it, I look at what needs to be done and I get overwhelmed. I think to myself “How am I ever going to do this?”

The work doesn’t go away, so I had to figure out a technique that would help me tackle it.

One article that appealed to me was about doing work in a 48 minutes segment and allowing 12 minutes of rest for each hour.

By The original uploader was Erato at Italian Wikinews - Transferred from it.wikinews to Commons by Fale using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

By The original uploader was Erato at Italian Wikinews – Transferred from it.wikinews to Commons by Fale using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Not bad, but even 48 minutes seemed too much for me. Then I started to break that 48 minutes down into chunks that I could work with.

I discovered that I could focus on anything for 6 minutes at a time. Once I did six minutes I’d check off a little box. Then I thought “Well, I can do another 6 minutes.” And I’d do it.

Before I knew it, I had hit 48 minutes and it was time for a 12 minute break and I had some work completed.

I’ve used different timers over the last year. Currently I’m working with the Pomodoro Time app which is based on the  Pomodoro Technique (pomodoro is Italian for “tomato”). This technique uses different time increments, but I can adjust it to my 6 minute segments.

I realize that I have tackled daunting tasks in the past, by just doing the work in little chunks.

A few years ago I was hired to be part of Castle Fantasy Fair at the Royal Theatre at Disneyland. A fun musical comedy style retelling of classic Disney stories like Beauty and the Beast and Tangled. I was grateful to be a part of this cast, but there was a challenge. I could do comedy, I could sing. However I’d never really done musical theatre dancing. I wasn’t sure how well I would do.

At the time, I paired up with a friend of mine who had also been hired, Mark McConville (from Superego), and together the two of us worked our tails off to get those routines down. I would film the other actors and choreographers performing the dances and I would go over and over and over it again. I would use my breaks. I would play the video in slow motion so I could build the routine into my body.

There were some days where I felt I would never get it. And then, slowly, it started working and I was put into regular rotation for the show.

I have such an appreciation for the celebrities that go on “Dancing with the Stars” who don’t know the first thing about dancing. I have gone through it myself.

But with continuous effort, focus, and just taking it a little bit at a time, that which looked unattainable and impossible was done.

I encourage you that if you are facing a task that looks to big, try the 6 minute technique. You’ll slowly start to make a dent in whatever it is that’s been looming over you.

I promise, you will make progress and you’ll feel better.

Do you use different techniques for tackling projects? If so feel free to share on my Facebook page.

Use Your Influence (No Matter How Old You Are Or Whatever The Circumstances)

A lesson from Akira Kurosawa's "Ikiru" (1952)

There is a concept that floats around a lot in the 21st century that, although it has good intentions, has been turned into something that I don’t think is very hopeful and encouraging for the human spirit.

The idea of “running out of time”, “being too old”, “being past your prime.”

It doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth.

I understand the spirit in which these warnings may be given. Don’t squander your time or your resources.

Unfortunately, there is a negative effect that comes with this. People may feel that they have lost their opportunities in life, that the train has passed them by and all they can do at this point is throw in the towel.

I say: NO, NO, NO!!!!

You always have the ability to make an impact.

With this in mind, I remembered a great movie that example of using your influence and current skills, no matter what circumstance you may be dealing with…

“Ikiru” is a 1952 film by the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa who is know for “The Seven Samurai”, “Yojimbo”, “Rashomon” or “Ran” to name just a few. Though “Ikiru” may be overlooked, it has a powerful message that inspires one to move forward with our work and our influence, no matter how small it may be.

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The film tells the story of a longtime Tokyo bureaucrat who has lived a life of routine and boredom.

His life is drastically changed when he discovers that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. At first there are waves of shock, fear, sadness and self-pity that overwhelm him. This transitions into an appreciation of life around him. But the last section of the film is that which truly inspired me.

This dying man has the realization that although his time is short he can try to make a difference in his own small way before he passes away. I would encourage you to watch the film if you get a chance. I won’t spoil the story for you, but his work makes an impact in the community and effects his younger co-workers to model his action.

“Ikiru” (which means “To Live”) reminds us that no matter how small our world is, or how restrictive our environment, there is something that we have control or influence over. We must find the strength, the support and hope to take action and make a difference.

 

Survive Without a Smartphone [Podcast]

In this episode of “The Discussion with Kevin Gregg”, Kevin recounts to Jeremy his experience of not using his smartphone for a few days while he was out of town earlier this year.

In this episode you will learn

  • how to set yourself for success while your smartphone is off
  • dealing with the withdrawals of not picking up the phone and unplugging from screen time
  • the benefits that come once you put the smartphone down

 

References in this episode:

Previous article How I Survived the Weekend Without My Smartphone

How to set yourself up for a successful night’s sleep http://www.earlytorise.com/10-3-2-1-0-formula-to-get-more-done/

Deep Work by Cal Newport

The idea of subtracting yourself from social media

Creativity comes through restriction, limitation and simplification

Jeremey tells an awesome story of get down to bare bones of something with drumming with                     Peter Erskine

Enjoy the show and PLEASE help us spread the word. Rate and review us on Itunes and Stitcher.

 

Hope In Slovenia – How Performing Arts Students Taught Me Life Lessons

A trip halfway around the world revealed some great insight

I recently returned from a trip to Slovenia where I worked with Josiah Venture’s Performing Arts Camp program with Slovene teens and young adults. The experience was life changing.

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Hope in Slovenia with these incredible students

Not only was I in a beautiful part of the world, but I was getting to help young men and women who don’t often get the chance to express themselves in the arts. The program creates an encouraging atmosphere that helps to push these young people forward while providing an opportunity to talk about troubles and hardships they may be experiencing in their personal and spiritual lives.

I was so grateful for the opportunity and I learned some valuable lessons, not only from the program, but from these brave young men and women.

Here are my takeaways:

1. If you have a support system around you, you can stretch yourself farther than you thought possible
We worked with these kids over the course of a week to put up a 90 min show filled with drama, singing, dancing and instrumental challenges. For some of these kids, it was the first time they had performed a certain disciplines. It was not an easy task, yet they knew they were in an atmosphere that would support them through this. The result: outstanding.

The most inspiring moments came when you saw the transformation of students who started the week doubting they could get though the process. But slowly, with support and encouragement from teachers and fellow students, they grew stronger and more confident in a discipline day by day. By the final performance a week later they performed like professional artists.

I find myself a week later realizing that I need to do the same thing in my own life. How many times have I talked myself out of moving forward with a project, letting the fear of the struggle keep me from taking forward motion. If a young man who has never done musical choreography can proudly do a group combination a week later in front of friends and family, then what is holding me back?

A key element is to make sure that I have the support and encouragement of mentors and fellow travelers along the way. In community, wonderful results can appear.

2. It’s not about me.

Years ago I read Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life”.  The opening line of that book is “It’s not about you.”

What a counter-cultural thought, particularly in a day and age where we are constantly focused on self and self-improvement.

One of the challenges that Warren issues in that book, is that at some point in life, everyone should go on a mission to help others. It’s something that I had thought about for a long time with my wife. We weren’t sure what the opportunity would be. We had thoughts of going to Africa, or possibly going to Mexico to help build a house. When the opportunity come along to go to Slovenia and use my abilities and skills as a teacher and director,I couldn’t have received a better gift.

What’s more, when you are in the middle of a different country, you realize that there is need . I may not be able to fix it all, but I can do my little part. The written word cannot express the moments of joy that I experienced. An experience like this can dramatically snap any of my own aspirations quickly into focus. Life, just focused on my own needs and my own rewards, is not life at all. Life is meant for helping others and I am so grateful to these students for showing me the way.

3. Dreaming about the possibilities is a good thing… as long as you act

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day activities of life. You keep looking at what’s in front of you that you forget why you are doing it.

Imagination is a wonderful tool given to us by God. It makes us ponder the “What If” in life. That “What If” is even better when, with God’s grace and courage, we start to realize “Why Not?”
I used to have dreams and aspirations about traveling the world. But I got hit by a couple of decades worth of opportunities and challenges. Slowly over time I left the drift of everyday life, cause me to put those dreams on the shelf until an undefined “someday.”

After my experience in Slovenia, I know that there are some incredible experiences ahead. I want to help this new family of students and friends in Slovenia. I want my children to finally meet their family and relatives in Ireland. I want to experience beautiful places in the world with my wife and sons. And I don’t have to do it just as a tourist. I can do it with purpose.

When I returned from my experience, I didn’t come back with a beautiful sad ending. I came back having had an ember stoked inside of me. That ember that reminded me of dreams from long ago and stirred the new sparks of “what else is possible.”

 

Again, I am so grateful for these students and for the Slovene and American teams involved with Josiah Venture and Cross Point Community Church. I pray that you get to have an experience that can rekindle those flames. My first suggestion, think about someone you could help using your talents, and then go do it… If there is a willing heart, who knows where God will lead you. I am grateful it sent me into a community of nearly 50 people who are now a part of my family and my heart.

Season 2 Episode 4 Hope (Podcast)

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis

Hope… it’s essential to keep us moving forward.

In this episode of “The Discussion” Kevin and Jeremy talk about hope and that future that lies ahead.

hope

Hope Image Copyright convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

In this episode:

Enjoy the show and PLEASE help us spread the word. Rate and review us on Itunes and Stitcher.

Season 2 Episode 4 Hope (Podcast)

There is light at the end of the tunnel... so keep going

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis

Hope… it’s essential to keep us moving forward.

In this episode of “The Discussion” Kevin and Jeremy talk about hope and that future that lies ahead.

hope

Hope Image Copyright convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

In this episode:

Enjoy the show and PLEASE help us spread the word. Rate and review us on Itunes and Stitcher.

Season 2 Episode 3 Envy (Podcast)

In this episode of “The Discussion” Kevin and Jeremy talk about a very powerful feeling that may be holding you back: envy.

 

Whether it’s feeling envious of people at work, in your social circles or even on Facebook, Kevin and Jeremy explore this negative emotion that may be holding you back.

In this episode:

  • We identify why you may be feeling this way
  • Explore what “Facebook Envy” is
  • We talk about 3 things you can do to combat this feeling (as well as two extra tips that can change your attitude right away)

Other mentions:

Enjoy the show and PLEASE help us spread the word. Rate and review us on Itunes and Stitcher.

 

The Five Reasons You Need To Do Creative Work For A Living

This FREE eBook will explore why you need to follow your creative drive.

You just have thaFive Reasons Creative Workt feeling…

You may have a job that pays the rent, the mortgage, the bills.

But you know this isn’t it… there’s something else you are supposed to be doing. Something that’s creative.

You keep talking yourself out of it.

“That was when I was a kid.” “It’s irresponsible.” “It’s not the smart thing to do.”

But that feeling doesn’t go away…

In my new eBook “The Five Reasons You Need To Do Creative Work For A Living”
I dive into why you need to move forward with that feeling that is pulling at you.
Do the creative work you were meant for.

Enter your email to get your FREE COPY of my eBook "The Five Reasons You Need To Do Creative Work For A Living"

Watch Your Mouth

What you say, both good and bad, can have an effect on you.

It’s not always puppies and unicorns with everything going your way. There are no promises that everything in this life is supposed to be perfect. There are trials.

But what are you saying when you’re going through a difficult trial?

You’ve got to watch your mouth.

There’s no denying that we can have a negative verbal reaction when we receive bad news. It’s like hitting your finger with a hammer… there’s likely to be some colorful language to come out.

There’s a danger, however, in letting negative words continually flow out of you. Rick Warren has a great observation with this. Anger is not something that when you fill up with it, you just let it out and get rid of it. Anger is a little more dangerous than that. When it starts coming out of us, it’s like a machine that can keep producing more and more and more anger. It’s like turning on the switch to the Negative Emotion Factory. This is the same factory that can produce plenty of other negative emotions: sadness, envy, resentment, self-pity.

There is nothing wrong with talking about troubles that you’ve gone through. Keep in mind that words fuel your feelings, both negative and positive.

Years ago I used to have a constant phrase I would use when people would ask me how I was.

“I’m exhausted.”

It was my way of letting people know how hard I was working and how I was juggling all the challenges of work, family and personal life. I said it ALL the time.

Until my wife corrected me after we went to a friend’s party. She had overheard a number of my interactions with other people that night, and the only thing I kept saying was how I exhausted I was. It wasn’t painting our life in a very positive way.
After the party that night, I made a concentrated effort to remove the phrase “I’m exhausted” or “I’m tired” out of my vocabulary. Here’s the strange thing… several weeks later after not saying these phrases, I actually started feeling more rested and energetic. My negative phrase and been physically and emotionally running me into the ground for months.

I challenge you not only watch your mouth with the negative thoughts and emotions, but to replace those words with  phrases that will build you up.

“And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” James 3:4-5 (NLT)

Perhaps the negative emotions that you are feeling are really a disguised call for help. Try flipping those words of frustration into “I’m in a rough spot and I need some guidance, direction and support.” There’s a very good chance someone will hear your call and give you the support you need.

What negative phrases do you find yourself automatically saying? How could you flip that into a positive? Share your thoughts on my Facebook page.