Creative Time: Map It To Make It

Don't you find SMART goal based time management that ticks the boxes too rational and analytical… just too darn SMART? I know I do.

I don't agree with those who say you can't make more time, for example. For me, time is fluid and subjective, not just something set into 24 hours a day. There are at least three different timezones at play in the human mind and at any moment, I can drop into any of them.

And when I set a creative intention, I trust time to deliver it in its own good… well… time. My task is to show up each day, and do my bit, not push time along.

I know this is different to the usual time-management advice and now that I want to pass on the Go Creative! way, I've had to think about time  more clearly.

I've been working with the ever-wonderful Jane Dixon-Smith on pinning down the Creative Mapping method I've used organically now for years, to write and publish my books, run a nonprofit for indie authors and generally create the conditions that can see me say, hand on heart, that nobody ever lived a happier life.

Creating happiness is what it's always about for me. And yes, I get a lot done along the way.

Jane has helped me turn the method I used to squiggle out on any piece of blank paper into a series of PDF maps that I now love using myself and can pass on to you.

I'll be rolling out these maps, and the instructions on how to use them, over the next few weeks here, on the blog.

Creative Mapping

As you make your maps, keep in mind three core principles.

  • Never lay out more than seven tasks on any map. The fewer the better, and leave plenty of time around them.
  • Make maps for work, rest and play, not just work only. Rest and play are not time off the creative process, they are the creative process. (Our hard-driving, consumer society is ignorant of this).
  • When you finish a task, don't tick it off or delete. Use a colored highlighter pen or marker and color in its cloud in your favorite color.  Hold the pleasure of having done it, and keep its achievement in your awareness.

Set An Intention

The next three blog posts in this series will provide Work Maps for the next month (Take off map), weeks (flight map) and days (landing log).

But the maps are no use on their own. We need a creative intention to kick off the process.

Something you truly want, yes, but that is achievable without great effort, or without taking a very long time.

We're creativists so it need not be a work creation. It can be a new accomplishment, a work of art, a new relationship or improvement to a current one, a language, better sex, a crash course in something you want to know…

At the same time, not something too small. It must be a bit of a stretch for you, otherwise there’s no creativity.

  • Not family dinner, but maybe a dinner party?
  • Not a whole book, but maybe a short story?
  • Not a perfect relationship with a troublesome loved one but maybe a good day out together?
  • Not $1 million but maybe a sideline income? Or a reduction in your debt this month?
  • Not a perfect body but daily exercise for 21 days?

“I’m going to create a permanent corner in my home,” said Breda, “where I’ll keep all my files and look forward to working on my money.” Which was fine because Breda did then move on to the money, where she really needed to put creative attention, and wasn’t just using the money-friendly corner as avoidance.

This is why only you can frame your own intention. Nobody else knows your true motivation.

So set your intention, something of the order of the examples above. A desirable, but achievable, stretch. Instructions For Creative Mapping, the next post, will show you how take it through the process of creative mapping.

Core to good mapping is a good creative intention:

1. Frame your intention like this: I am going to create ________________ by _________, the first blank being what you are going to create, the second the date by which you will have made it.

2. Visualize your intention and take care in writing it out. Do a more detailed paragraph. Write as if you are placing an order for the intention to be manufactured by somebody who doesn’t know you, and doesn’t quite understand what you’re talking about, but will deliver it, if you only ask properly.

Make your description as clear and as detailed as you can. And love whatever it is you’re calling up here. Be authentic. Don’t do what others think you should do, or what you think might be easier to do, but what that small voice in your gut, knows is what you really want to do.

Visualization is a hugely important part of the process. The more clear, vivid and exciting to you, and the more emotional energy you bring, to this intention, the better.

Cultivate the feeling of already having what you’re creating. A mental picture of what you want, combined with an emotion around how it would feel to have it, has a deep impact on your imaginative and creative capacity.

By the end of the month, using the creative mapping method, you'll have made this something that didn't exist in your life before, this something you truly want.
map: Ed Fairburn