Despite Elysha’s best attempts, I have a new job.
As of Friday, I’m now a Notary Public for the State of Connecticut.
Admittedly there won’t be much work in this new role. Need a document notarized?
I’m your man. But that doesn’t exactly happen all that often.
I became interested in becoming a notary public about three years ago when I learned that my friend’s mother held the position. I wondered what was required to do the same, so I went online and found an explanation of the process, which included reading and studying the fairly lengthy manual, completing a fairly lengthy application, passing a test, and gathering signatures and statements of fitness from friends and colleagues.
Thus I began my journey.
I mention this because it’s a good example of two important strategies that I use to make more efficient use of my time and get more done:
This is the process by which large project can be completed over a long period of time if you’re willing to commit to an incremental approach to its completion.
The perfect example of this is cleaning out a closet or a basement. So many people see these tasks as “all or nothing.” Either you commit a full day to getting the job done or it doesn’t get done at all.
This may sound ridiculous, but it’s how most people think about large, complex, time consuming tasks. Rather than committing to putting away one item of clothing a day or removing three items a week from the basement, people allow these problems to become worse while they wait to find a full day to tackle the problem.
Not only is it foolish to give away a day of your life to a project like this, but it often means the project never gets done.
I hear would-be authors tell me that they can only work on their novel if they have a solid hour or two or three to work. This is also foolish. If you’re a real writer and want to be published someday, you’ll recognize that 10 minutes is enough to write a few sentences or revise a paragraph or edit a page.
I tell these writers that there were men in the trenches of World War I, wearing gas masks, dodging bullets, and writing. They did not wait for an hour or two or three to work. They wrote whenever they could, and so can you.
I write in large chunks of time but more often in slivers of time. Five minutes here. Half an hour there. Whatever I can find. It’s how I’ve written and published five books and have three more on the way.
I took the same approach to the process of becoming a notary. It wasn’t a pressing demand, so I simply created a folder on my desktop with all of the materials required to become a notary, and when I found myself with a few extra minutes, I opened the folder and continued with the work. It took three years to complete, but I didn’t surrender a 4-6 hour chunk of time when I could’ve been doing something with my family and friends, and eventually accomplished the goal.
This is the process by which I carve our times in my life to work on specific tasks, often utilizing time that people ignore to do so.
For example, when it comes to crafting stories, I do most of this work in the shower and while driving. Since I do this work orally and don’t ever write anything down, I have committed myself to working on new stories every single time I shower and whenever I’m driving for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Why do I always have a new story? Because I’m always showering and driving.
A storyteller once said that he can’t imagine where I find the time to continually craft new stories, and I explained that I didn’t have to find any time. I just inserted storytelling into time that was otherwise being wasted.
I took the same approach to completing my work to become a notary. I only worked on this project when I found myself waiting for a meeting to start. Either I was a little early or (more likely) the meeting was starting late. In either case, I opened my notary folder and went to work.
Three years later, after working in 5-10 minute segments of time, I was finished.
These are two of many, many strategies that I use to accomplish my goals, but I like to think that they are both easy to implement and highly effective.
Look at your life. Do you have a large, seemingly overwhelming project to tackle? Has it been staring you in the face for what seems like forever?
See if incrementalism and segmentation can help.
And remember, if you need something notarized, I’m your man. Despite Elysha’s wishes, I have me a new job.