Why time constraints may actually help you get stuff done

Art journal page created in Jane Davenport's online class Frolicaholic

The other day I had one of those long to-do lists that leave you in doubt that you have any hope of achieving them all in 24 hours. Then a friend rang. A friend I hadn't seen in quite some time. A spur of the moment catch up was suggested. My favourite kind!   The angel on my one shoulder shook her head. (She can be a little officious and bossy. In fact I am not even sure she is an angel.) Clearly she thought the sensible, mature thing to do would be to attend to the chores on the list. The little devil on the other shoulder was skipping from one foot to the other..." What to-do list?"  No prizes for guessing who won. The curious thing is that I actually managed to achieve both. I met my friend and I did all the other things I had planned for that day. It turns out that the tasks on our to-do list expand and contract to fit the time we allot for them. Reducing the time available focuses the attention. It seems to be an effective way of encouraging the mindfulness that can be so elusive.  With less time we let go of any ideals of perfection and complete the tasks with the minimum investment of time and effort required for an acceptable result. Which is actually the definition of efficiency.  When ample time is available it is the possibilities that can be overwhelming. It is not dissimilar to that pristine new canvas or blank art journal page.  A trick that I have learned from different art teachers is to impose some constraints. Pick only 4 art supplies at random and limit yourself to using only those. Every time you add a colour make it a rule to use that colour 3 times on the page. Overcome writer's block by setting a timer and writing anything and everything that comes into your head until the timer goes off.   Constraints don't reduce creativity, they enhance it. If necessity is the mother of invention then constraints must be her big sisters or, at the very least, distant cousins.   I think it is true what they say.... if you want something to get done, give it to a busy person.