If you want to surf, you must block the time in your schedule to go to the ocean.
You cannot merely schedule time at any time of the day when you can “fit it in.” You must schedule surfing for the time of day when you are most likely to see good waves. This is not a function of linear time; it’s a function of cyclical time: the tides and swells.
You also need to schedule enough time in your session. Surfing is not something you can fit into a 30-minute time block. You need time to paddle out, wait for the waves, get a few good waves in, and return to shore. You don’t necessarily know how much time you need. It depends on how good the waves are and whether you’re catching them.
You’ll be well-served to schedule more time than you may need, so that you don’t feel the pressure of time. If you’ve got a meeting in an hour, you’ll be so worried about the time that you won’t be present to the ocean and the waves. When you have a day where you’re getting a lot of good waves, you don’t want to just cut your session short because you have to be somewhere.
You may not get good waves on every outing, but showing up to that space regularly increases the odds that you’ll get good waves more frequently. At the very least, because you’ll learn how to read the waves better, which will lead to more opportunities.
In short, if you’re going to surf, you want to make sure the conditions are in your favor and that you know how to optimize your time in the ocean. You must create space for surfing in your schedule at the right times, and with enough time to make your outing worthwhile. That doesn’t mean every outing will be great, but at least you’ll set yourself up to win.
Creative Work Is Like Surfing
Surfing is a good analogy for any creative, intuitive, or connection-based work. You need to allow time to cultivate presence, to stay with something for a while. You need the conditions under which the mind can let go and you can begin to hear the inner wisdom.
These are not things that happen in a linear time frame. The very quality of what is happening takes you out of time. But you’ll never get there if you don’t first block off the linear time on your schedule. One you block the time, you need the conditions that are conducive to doing the work you want to do.
You Can Control the Conditions
Some people use this last part as the excuse for not getting started. They are waiting for the “right” conditions: enough time, the right weather, etc. But this is where creative work differs from surfing.
You can’t control the waves, the water temperature, the wind, or the weather.
But you can control the conditions you need to produce your creative work or hear your intuition.
The real problem that most people have is not that they can’t “find the time” for this work (although this is a challenge most people present) but that they don’t know what conditions they need to do their work once they have blocked out the time. If you’ve ever blocked the time to work on a project and not gotten much done, you know that productivity is not purely a function of having “enough” time.
Like surfing, creative work, and being productive with the time you have, is also a function of cyclical time — when you schedule that time — as well as many other conditions.
What are the “ideal conditions” for creative work, or listening to your intution?
That’s different for every person. Often it’s different for different types of work. Learning what your conditions are is part of the practice; it’s like learning to read the waves. The more you show up, the better you’ll get at identifying what you need.
The first step is blocking out the time and showing up regularly.