How to Find Time for Your New Passion

You’re curious, maybe a little frustrated with the everyday, and you want to try something new. Maybe it’s that new trendy hobby that you keep seeing everywhere; maybe it’s your lifelong dream. But no matter how many times in your life you say, “I should try that,” you always stop at the same thing: time.

“There’s never any time,” you say.

Friends, let me tell you the most annoying, truest thing you’ll hear about that argument.

There is time.

The real question and problem is: how are you managing yours?

I don’t mean to sound like my parents, the typical Indian parents who would go to the bookstore in the summer to find study guides so I would stay sharp over the long summer months. They were the kind who would wake me up at 8am on a Saturday and tell me not to waste my day, or who would assign homework when it looked like I wasn’t busy enough with work from school. They made me feel guilty all the time.

But, now that I’m an adult, I can regretfully admit that they sort of had a point.

It’s true, our responsibilities take up a lot of our time. And it’s true that we need to rest. But between our obligations and our personal time, we leave a lot of wasted space. We have missed opportunities to learn, create, and grow.

Before you totally blow me off, I need to state that I’m busy and stressed like no other. I’m a full time high school English teacher and toddler mom. I couldn’t survive it all if I didn’t make time for creating.

Making time to letter, write, and learn about business are the things that keep me floating every day, and that’s why I’m so passionate about sharing that with you. I promise — carving out time, even if it’s just ten minutes, every day to pursue a passion is so worth it. Here are my top four times in the day to pursue my creative goals:

#4 Deep Shower Thoughts

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All my good ideas come to me in the shower. This is a chunk of time that is perfect for thinking, reflecting, and even doodling! I love to draw and letter on the tiles and glass… But maybe that’s just me.

Goals that can be achieved if you maximize this time: brainstorming and planning for your daily goals… maybe even a little doodling. If you’ve got some kind of shower speaker system (or in my case, a sink nearby that can amplify your phone), you can also use this time to listen to podcasts or audiobooks.

#3 Time spent waiting

I’m writing this while I’m waiting for my perfect pan-seared chicken to become perfect. I started writing this while waiting for my toddler try to get bored of one activity and ask for another. We’re constantly waiting. Why not use that time?

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Me too, Inigo. Me. Too.

This window of time is for those of you whose goal is developing a skill, or whose goal is a cognitive one. Waiting is the perfect time to learn and think. And learning and thinking counts as time put toward your goal — so be sure to celebrate the time that you spend doing this!

Goals that can be achieved if you maximize this time:

  • Reading! Either audiobook or actual book. I use waiting time for audiobooks.
  • Podcasts: I learn the tricks of my trades through my favorite podcasts: Goal Digger by Jenna Kutcher, Perspective Collective by Scotty Russell, Write or Die by Claribel Ortega, 10 Minute Writer’s Workshop by Virginia Prescott, and Create If Writing by Kirsten Oliphant. The best time for podcasts? When I’m stuck in traffic or walking my dogs!
  • Studying and reflecting: This is crucial for so many creative fields. When I was really into watercolor, I would use my waiting time to study the way light played on plants and clouds, then brainstorm how I could practice that when I had my paints at night. Now that I’m in the NaNoWriMo zone, I’m using my waiting time to study humans and brainstorm possible interactions that will go into my book.
  • Meditating: One of my friends has taken on meditating for her Ten Minute Goal. Talk about a way to make waiting time feel less tedious!

#2 Brain breaks at work

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No matter how committed you are to your job, no matter how fulfilling it is, you probably need a break every now and then. In fact, taking breaks can boost your productivity. Check out this Forbes article and this Psychology Today article if you don’t believe me.

Whether you’re a teacher, a CEO, a stay-at-home parent, a cashier, or one of the fortunate few who is living their dream job, you could still use a brain break. Use this opportunity to develop a new skill. I’m lucky enough to have a pretty fulfilling job and a decent-sized conference period. I tend to use at least one of my conference periods a week to work on a personal goal. I know that giving myself the chance to take a break from teaching and parenting actually makes me a better teacher and parent. It’s worth it!

Goals that can be achieved if you maximize this time: Anything that could be achieved from your workspace. Because of my work restrictions, I use this time to develop lettering skills and take care of writing goals.

#1 Time spent searching for a distraction

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Want to know what my personal hell would be? Flipping through Netflix ad nauseam, trying to find a new show or movie that will distract me from my mundane life. This was actually what spurred me to practice lettering every night. I got so tired of going from a full day of teaching and parenting to a night of flipping through Netflix. I mean, we could end up spending thirty minutes searching, only to pass out from exhaustion twenty minutes into whatever we chose! I *had* to do something better with that time.

How much time do you spend trying to get distracted? Flipping through Netflix movies? Scrolling through Instagram or Facebook? Searching for something to get mad about on Twitter?

Well, stop. Use that time for your goal. This is the number one, biggest time-waster in our time. We have too much information and too many distractions at our fingertips, and we let technology dictate our lives. Time to take that time back and use it toward your goals.

Goals that can be achieved if you maximize this time: ALL OF THEM.

 

I know you’re tired, and I know that some days, you are just so braindead that all you can do is flip through Netflix until you find a cooking show that will help you fall asleep. I have those days too. That’s OK. 

But believe me when I say it feels so good to give that tired brain of yours something fun to do, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. It rejuvenates your brain and your soul. It gives you something to work toward and be proud of. If you haven’t tried my goal-setting challenge, try it out this week. See how long you can go:

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My personal goal-setting update: I’m almost done planning for NaNoWriMo! I’m starting late because #ITeach. I’ll start writing during Thanksgiving week, with the hopes of finishing by Christmas. I am so proud of myself for keeping up with my daily writing goals (at least 10 minutes every night, but now I’ve got enough momentum to do at least 30 minutes every night)! I have had a few days where I dropped off, but I’ve been sticking to my own tips by forgiving myself for missed days and celebrating the days that I do achieve my goals.  

I hope you’re able to find some time to pursue a goal this week. As always, let me know how your goal chasing is going by commenting here or by contacting me via Instagram @nerdladydraws! I love hearing from you!

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Goal Setting: Lauren Graham’s Kitchen Timer Strategy

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my most recent book recommendation: Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can. If you’re a fan of Graham, Gilmore Girls, or Parenthood, you have got to read this book. And I suggest on audiobook, because Lauren Graham is such a delightful voice to listen to.

When it comes to celebrity books, I usually expect some sort of ghostwriter to be involved. And maybe there was one, or an amazing editor of some sort, who worked behind the scenes in Graham’s book. But she really seemed like she wrote this one herself.

Why? Because, in addition to mentioning how smart she was, she had this amazing chapter about making time for writing.

It has completely changed the way I look at making time for my passions and hobbies.

Graham called it “Kitchen Timer Writing.” One block of time completely devoted to your craft. And as long as you keep yourself away from distractions (THE INTERNET!) and keep your appointment with yourself, you’ve succeeded. You’ve passed. You can go on to Day 2, and 3, and so on until your passion becomes a habit, and your habit becomes a way of life.

The book’s been out for two years, so naturally, there are plenty of blogs and articles about this life-changing chapter from her book. If you’re curious and can’t buy the book or find it at your library, I suggest you check out this blog (which copy/pasted the strategy, but not the whole chapter) or this article (which boils down the big ideas).

For me, these were the big takeaways:

  1. Make an appointment with yourself to devote to your craft.

  2. Keep your appointment. When you sit down for that block of time, you are to put away all distractions and only work on your craft. What really got me was that it is OK to just sit and think, or to sit and be stuck. As long as you give yourself that time to just sit and be with your craft. And if you’re stuck, you may as well work on your writing journal — write and practice until you get your groove back and you can get back to your project. For those of you who are joining me for the 10 Minute Challenge, but you’re working on other skills besides writing: if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired, use this time to learn. Watch/read the masters. Do drills. Do something that is devoted to your craft, even if it is not actively working on your project.

  3. Celebrate the keeping of the appointment.

  4. If you missed your appointment or couldn’t stick to the entire period of time, don’t punish yourself by making yourself do more the next day. Start fresh. Either try again the next day, or adjust the commitment. Maybe you can’t do an hour–but you can do 30 minutes. Or maybe just ten. Do what you can, as long as you’re doing and moving forward.

  5. Repeat: Honor the appointment. Celebrate your accomplishments. Adjust if necessary.

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This has completely changed the way that I look at goal setting. Instead of punishing myself or “owing” myself hours, I am allowed to forgive myself, adjust, and move on. Instead of forcing myself to meet a daily word count or post artwork everyday, I am allowed to practice my craft by learning, meditating, and experimenting.

It has been so very freeing.

By focusing on celebrating my accomplishment and adjusting when I fail to meet my goal, I am encouraged to keep going despite failure. I develop grit and confidence when it comes to pursuing my goals.  

When it came to lettering, I realized that I sort of naturally fell into Graham’s strategy… because it was purely a hobby for me when I started. My appointment with myself always fell around 8pm, when my daughter fell asleep and when I needed a mental break from a long day of being an adult. After a year and a half of practice, 8pm is now drilled into my brain as time to practice lettering.

Now, I’m trying out writing. Fiction writing. Again. But I’ve got a better gameplan this time. I’m going to forgive myself and I’m going to keep my appointment. I’m not going to punish myself with word counts. I’m just going to keep my appointment.

Now, my new time to watch is 11:30. It’s when my husband has gone to bed, and about an hour before my daughter wakes up and wants me to cuddle her back to sleep. That’s my new magic hour.

What goals are you working on? Have you tried making an appointment with yourself? Leave a comment with your goals!

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Goal Setting: Why You Should Forgive Yourself When Life Gets In The Way

One thing I’ve learned about myself since joining the Instagram art community is that I love encouraging people. It must be the teacher in me.

As part of my 10 Minutes a Day challenge, I want to cheer you on and build you up. I absolutely love finding new goals and finding ways to accomplish them. I soak up the tips on goal-setting I hear on podcasts and read in books, and I love applying them to my own goals. I want to share some of those tips and tricks with you!

Today’s tip is hopefully a freeing one. No matter when you started your 10 Minutes a Day goal, there’s a good chance that you may have missed a day (or two… or in my case, nearly a full week) and you lost some momentum. Because guess what? Life happened.

In the past, I used to add up all those missed opportunities and make myself catch up. If I tried NaNoWriMo and I missed my daily word count, I’d add those to my next day until I caught up. And you know what? I never caught up. The number kept getting bigger, and I eventually got discouraged and gave up.

When it comes to goal-setting, the best thing I’ve done for myself is forgiving myself for missed days. Instead of counting up missed opportunities, I focus on the possibilities of today. It has been so freeing to just let go. I no longer feel discouraged or guilty because life happened and got in the way of my personal goals. In fact, letting go allows me to actually feel excited when I finally do have the time to pick up my goal again!

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So let me be a little vulnerable here and confess what my goal is for the next three months: I want to write. I want to write fiction. It’s always been a dream of mine. So I’m going to work toward that. By Christmastime, I want to establish a habit of writing, planning, and learning to write a fiction novel.

…but I dropped off on my daily goals last week. I was traveling, then I missed on sleep because of my toddler, then I slept too much to catch up. Life happened. Instead of making myself stay up and get caught up on 50 minutes of writing in one night, or even forcing myself to do an extra ten minutes until I was caught up, I let go. I started each day as a new one with just ten minutes to steal.

It’s been a whole week, but I finally feel fully revived and ready to get back to ten minutes today. And I don’t feel bad about it. Actually, I feel excited to sit down and get my ten minutes today!

No matter if you’re two weeks or two days in with me, if you dropped off on your goal, it’s OK. Let’s focus on today. What can you do with today? Fight for your 10 minutes. Steal them if you have to. It’s so worth it!

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If you’re joining me on the 10 Minutes A Day Challenge, leave a comment here or find me on Instagram @nerdladydraws! I’d love to cheer you on as you move closer to that thing you wish you could always do!

 

Persist.

Hey, you.

Yes, you.

I see you.

I see you working your ass off, doing your research, doing all the things, staying up late and waking up early. I see that you’re still waiting. I am, too.

And I’m telling you, persist. Because the struggle is where all the fun is.

You got this.

And even if you don’t, have as much fun as you can fighting for it.

Oh, the things you can do with ten minutes!

“I wish I could do that.” It’s the most common phrase I hear from friends when I show off my latest lettering project. There’s part of me that wants to hold on to this thought and think I am special and gifted and talented… But I would be lying. Because the truth is, this is a skill, and I practice a lot. I know for a fact that I’m not talented—the pieces by those who have true talent are miles ahead of any of my work—but I do know that I am committed. And that I can get quite obsessed. So when I tell my friends that they can do it, they always come back with the second most common phrase I hear: “Yeah, but I don’t have time.” Here’s the thing. You do have time. I started lettering because after about 8 months of breastfeeding and pumping to Netflix, I got tired of passively absorbing information. I needed to do something. So I started watching lettering videos and tutorials. I started applying what I learned in any spare time I could find: in the 5 minutes it would take for my husband to change a diaper, during a test I was administering at school, while my kid was slowly learning how to hold a yogurt melt and start feeding herself. What started off as just a few minutes a day developed into an obsession. During those mundane periods of my day, when I would usually spend scrolling through social media, I started watching tutorials and practicing. And it all started with just giving myself ten minutes a day. Ten minutes to myself. Ten minutes to work on something for me. For me, those ten minutes became thirty, and eventually turned into an obsession that could keep me up all night. I have loved developing my skills. I can now look back on pieces from a year ago and cringe with a smile… I was proud of what I could do then, but I have grown so much.  I mean, look at this before and after for proof: And it wasn’t talent. It was simply finding those ten minutes every day to practice, and sticking to it. You have ten minutes. Hell, if you don’t have ten minutes, you’ve at least got some passing time that you’re wasting away scrolling through social media and getting angry at the news. How about spending that time watching tutorials on mute and learning to create something positive for the world? Today, I want you to think about something that makes you say, “I wish I could do that.” And I want you to give yourself ten minutes to try it out. Not just today. But tomorrow and the next day and the next. Do it when you notice your thumb scrolling up your screen, searching for some new bland piece of information for your brain to grasp. Do it when you’re browsing through Netflix, hunting for the next show that will change your life. Do it when you run away to a corner of the house to hide from your kids and your spouse for just ten minutes to get your sanity back (oh, wait, is that just me?). It took me a whole summer to really get myself into the habit of developing my skills every day and see myself growing as an artist. And it took a lot of support from my friends and the Instagram lettering community. Find your people. Tell them what you’re working on. And start working. Keep at it and watch yourself grow. So here’s the challenge: Find that one thing that you can learn, practice, and grow in. That thing that makes you go “Man, I wish I could do that.” And make yourself do that thing from now until Christmas. And add me to your team of cheerleaders. Because I believe in you. You can do that. Let me know how you’re doing by commenting here on my blog, or tagging me on Instagram @nerdladydraws. I’m here to pump you up and say OMG THAT IS SO AMAZING as you go about your journey. Y’all. This gets me excited. Can you imagine what you can do with just ten minutes a day? Leave a comment and tell me what you’ve always wanted to do!

Regeneration Speeches for Humans

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I finally watched Capaldi’s final episode. Although I liked his quirky personality, I never quite warmed up to his series because of the storylines. Regardless, I still got a little teary-eyed in his final moments.

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Doctor Who does such a good job of giving each actor a dignified farewell with a speech that fits his personality and appearances from each of his companions. It’s always a painful farewell.

In the past, I thought this is a bit odd, considering the character of the Doctor is technically just changing in appearance. But as this was a year of many farewells and changes for me, I finally understood why the Doctor experiences such anguish as he changes form.

We often think of change as something that happens outside of ourselves: new job, new school, new friends, new house. But with every major life change, we also say goodbye to who we were during that stage of our life. The phase with Converse shoes ends to welcome the bow tie, which eventually gives way to sunglasses and a guitar.*

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Although it’s exciting to think of the new things we will experience in every new stage of our lives, I don’t know if we quite give the time and reflection it takes to say goodbye to who we were. Because that person, with their experiences and relationships, was a pretty amazing person, too. The exciting new things to come shouldn’t make us forget or devalue who we were during each of our early stages.

In Capaldi’s final episode, the Doctor held on. He didn’t want to regenerate. He didn’t want to let go. And when he finally did, he gave himself a most glorious speech: a reminder of everything he learned, everything he wanted his next self to hold dear.

And with that speech, he was finally able to let go and make the change.

When I made all my big changes this summer, I took a lot of time to say goodbye to my colleagues, my students, my school, my house–everything and everyone except myself. I was really proud of the person I had become in that stage of my life. I deserved a goodbye.

In August, I had a rocky start to my new stage. Now I think it was because I hadn’t fully let go. I hadn’t given myself a worthy goodbye. I didn’t give the person I was give her final farewell speech, give her advice to me, and say goodbye on her own terms.

I’m going to take a page from the Doctor’s book and give time to value who I was in my last stage of life. I’m going to let that person give her farewell and her advice for me as I embrace my new role. And with that, I hope to be able to move forward confidently into the new person that I will become. 

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Do you think you give yourself enough time to reflect on yourself before you move on to new stages in life? Comment below with lessons you’ve learned in your early stages that you still hold on to!

 

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*Ten, Eleven, and Twelve’s iconic accessories, respectively.

Both handlettering pieces in this entry are original pieces by me! They were done digitally using the Procreate app. See more of my work on Instagram @nerdladydraws.