Did You Get a Timer Yet?


Last week I wrote about how I’m starting the 20 Minute Club here on the blog.

At the end of each week, (Thursday or Friday), I’ll write about how I used the 20 Minute Technique–the ups, the downs–and invite you to share in the comments section how it went for you as well.

This is a simple way for us to be accountable to ourselves and feel supported at the same time.

If you, my beloved readers and subscribers, join in and share, we can all realize we’re struggling with the same things, learn from each others’ smart ideas and epiphanies, and feel less alone in the weeks when we don’t manage to do it. Oh, look, her week got away from her too–that kind of thing.

And remember, talking about what didn’t work is just as useful as talking about what did. Sometimes 20 minutes will turn into a blissful 2 hours and sometimes it’ll be a tortuous 19 minutes and 59 seconds.

Both of these experiences are equally important because getting yourself through the tortuous moments is what allows for the blissful times to happen more often. (See my explanation about the Ick below…)

And just addressing the concept regularly like this–ooh, gotta think about what my 20 minutes will be today or this week– is a sure way to make your creativity a greater priority in your life as well–which is what you want.

I’m excited to say that the Knitting Pirate already got started and wrote about her 20 minute experiences on her blog! I love how she says “But twenty minutes… I have lots of twenty minuteses. Last night I had an hour free with nothing planned – I had three blocks of twenty minutes!” Fantastic.

(She’s @KnittingPirate on Twitter.)

Why 20 Minutes is So Great

The reason the 20 Minute Technique is so great is:

  • It’s a way to bite off something you can actually chew instead of something much more than you can chew, which is what we often do, which undermines being able to do anything. (I’m gonna build the Empire State Building….by Friday!)
  • It’s a mechanism for working through the ick. You know, the ick! The ick of being rusty. The ick of being stuck. The ick of trying to go deeper, be more honest, figure out what you’re trying to say. The ick of having no ideas. The ick of trying something new or doing something hard.

This is a powerful thing, not to be underestimated–all working artists have figured out how to work through the ick. They don’t not feel it, they just have a way to work through it. The 20 Minute Technique is one of those ways!

  • It’s a do-able strategy for tackling the difficulty of Having-No-Time. “Finding Time” is vague and abstract. Getting less busy can feel like a pipe dream. Figuring out how to carve out 20 minutes is a concrete mission with a clear beginning and an end. This concreteness is very important. Carve out 20 minutes in your day or maybe just 20 minutes in your week–it’s okay to start small.

What Counts


If you start to think of something and then decide it doesn’t count, you’re just bumping up against a “rule” and most rules are there to protect us from doing something we’re scared to do. (I plan to write more about this soon, but in the meantime remember, whatever it is you thought of, it counts!)

In the meantime, here are some ideas to get you thinking about what you’d like to do to get started in the 20 Minute Technique:

  • Flip through art magazines and tear out pictures of work you like. Line them up and see what they have in common. See how they’re different. Think about it.
  • Flip through random magazines and tear out pages that have things in them you like–colors, phrases, textures, anything. Notice if there’s a pattern there, what is it telling you about what you like/what you’re attracted to?
  • Make a pair of earrings. Or two.
  • Stare at the last painting you made and think about what you like or don’t like about. What works, what doesn’t.
  • Find all those pieces to that dress you cut out but didn’t sew together. Iron them. Find the directions.
  • Organize your beads.
  • Organize your art supplies.
  • Make a card.
  • Create backgrounds for collages.
  • Gesso some pages in your art journal.
  • Pick three colors and start a collage just based on color and work on it for those twenty minutes.
  • Make an automatic drawing.
  • Attach that button back onto your favorite pants.
  • Card some wool.
  • Cast some stitches.
  • Get out a piece of paper and a pencil and work out how much yarn you’ll need for that sweater you want to knit.
  • Break some dishes to use in a mosaic.
  • Find a pencil and some scrap paper and do some blind drawings. See how slowly you can go.
  • Set up a still life.
  • Photograph your cat.
  • Photograph textures.
  • Tear a piece of paper that’s so pretty you’re afraid to use so that you can use it.
  • Start something you can’t finish so you have something to work on the next time you do the 20 Minute Technique.
  • Anything else you want to do.

The world is your oyster. Just find a timer and set it for 20 minutes. And allow allow allow.

It’s okay to check the timer a lot, that happens to me sometimes. I know what I’m going to tackle, and it’s going to involve some ick, but now that I’ve got to tell you about it at the end of the week, I can’t avoid it!

What do you think? Are you game? Have any questions? Email me or share in the comments, I’d love to hear from you! Oh! And please forward this post to anyone else you think might benefit from this idea. :-)

Bookmark and Share


  1. [...] Looking for a way to end inertia? Here’s a wonderful blog: Go to: [...]

  2. Julie says:

    This sounds great! I am self employed and every day is creative for me. But, I am trying to find time to teach myself metal work. So, I am going to spend the 20 minutes focusing on this.

    Thanks for the creative nudge!

  3. Joyce Barham says:

    My granddaughter spent the week with me. She has a timer on her cell phone. We were able to sort through fabric scraps and label boxes so they will be organized. Also, we finished laying out the design on a liberated quilt that I am making. Thanks for getting me started again.

  4. Sarah says:

    I love it Joyce! Thanks for participating. :-) -Sarah

  5. [...] Club’s First Ever Minutes! By Sarah Every club needs someone to take the minutes–and The 20 Minute Club is no [...]

  6. Sara says:

    I am committed to the 20 minute club, but I have not gotten a timer :0

    However, there are online-based timers. I use for my accounting and it comes equipped with a timer – just no “beep.”

  7. [...] if you feel like you need suggestions for getting started, you might check out the list on this blog post, or shoot me an [...]

  8. Donna says:

    I love the idea…I am all for the 20 minute club. I must go get my timer right now. I am giving myself 20 minutes to walk away from this computer to do that!

  9. [...] Looking for a way to end inertia? Here’s a wonderful blog: Go to: [...]

  10. [...] your unfinished or almost finished collage pieces are wonderful reasons for setting the timer for 20 minutes here and there (even when you’re tired or not in the mood) and responding and [...]

  11. [...] my kit-making this summer, the timer has been my trusty [...]

  12. [...] setting the timer for an hour each day to help myself over a difficult hump with my how-to video for the (newly [...]

Leave a Reply