How to Make Inspiration (the Time Thief) Your Friend

A man with hands on hips standing in front of a clock painted on a black wall, a bulb instead of 1 on the clock. Back view. Concept of having and idea on time.

Time and idea

 

How can you successfully manage your time when the next great idea could strike at any moment?

How do you make time for inspiration in any already busy day?

As a coach, I provide answers. As an individual, I have my own questions. One question that I have been struggling with this past year is how to foster inspiration while maintaining a sense of balance. I must admit that these two goals often work at cross-purposes in my life, as they do for many others who are blessed with the creativity bug.

Often the more I am inspired I am, the harder it is to be at peace. Channeling inspiration is a nagging, messy, guarded and complicated process. It makes me want to wake up at the wee hours of the morning and start going, and it propels me to extend my day much beyond the time my body is telling me that I need rest. It urges me to skip lunch and feed it instead.

Inspiration says, “don’t stop and eat lunch, feed me instead!”

I can set a perfect plan – at 10 am I will be doing X, by 11:30 am I will move to Y. But inspiration is jealous. It does not know how to share. It threatens to abandon me if I leave it on its own for too long, so when I return at 12:30 pm, it may be grumpy like a child.

Of course, I need inspiration as much as I need water, and I am sure you do too. The more inspired I am, the more I find passion and meaning in my life and the more energy I have for the other tasks in my day. On the days that I am most inspired, my output can be 20x the days that I am not.

To that end, I have become a huge fan of energy management rather than time management. If you focus on energy management, you channel your activities with the end game of increasing your overall energy for the day, so you can be at your best in each task. This matches many of us more than straight time management, in which we try to fit inspiration into a set of pre-programmed times.

Yet our days don’t always work that way either. Inspiration on one topic may strike at 1 pm, and a critical meeting on another may start at 1:15. So the question may become how to push and pull inspiration, weaving it into our free hours (however many or few those may be) without dampening those very creative ideas and the flow that can accompany their execution. 

This is hard. In fact, it may be one of the hardest things that we need to do as human beings. Coaxing inspiration to fit into the ins and outs of modern life is akin to shaping glass – you need just the right amount of heat, skill and supple touch – and you need to risk that your project will be a bust. Yet the more you practice, the better your results will be.

I have found something that has worked for me, so I wanted to share it. It’s a cliche, but made new again in this analogous context. Here it is:”If you love something, set it free.”

I love inspiration, so I have set it free. Right now, for example, I am writing this post at 9:50 am. I will stop at 10 am to prepare for my next meeting. If it means that I lose my train of thought, there is always another train. I cannot control inspiration, but it doesn’t control me either. We live in harmony with each other.

Inspiration will not leave you if it knows you are coming back.

If you live in the world of inspiration long enough, it starts to feel like home. It’s like an old friend with whom you can pick up a conversation started 15 minutes or 15 years earlier. Or a child who knows that although you have left the room, you will always return. If you trust inspiration, it will trust you back.

9:58 am. Inspiration, it’s almost time to go. It’s farewell and not goodbye. See you soon!

Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership coach, author and resume writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. Her book on job interviews, Master the Interview, is available on Amazon.com

Image above from Adobe Images.