Rules are not in place to drive Stuck Creatives mad or turn them into robots. They are there as beacons, guides, boundaries, or other similar analogies.

It would be great if we could follow every rule, all the time. We know that is not possible. We have to be flexible with our rules at times. We can be flexible with how much of a rule we complete and still get a lot of good out of work. It is better to have a rule partially full-filled than not followed at all, especially if we are trying to make the rule a new habit.

Flexing the 30-minute Rule

This rule seeks to establish a solid habit of dedicating a short, reasonable amount of time to our craft that we are very likely to be able to complete daily. Thirty minutes is a good-sized chunk of time to get some work done without over-committing ourselves. Of course, if we have more time and energy, we are welcome to work longer than 30 minutes. The point is to work daily.

To the 30-minute rule, we add conditions under which we promise ourselves we will work. We add a when target: “I work every day for a minimum of 30 minutes, from 830 am to 9 am.” We also add a where target. Research shows that when we specify a where and when to a habit, we are much more likely to follow through. Here is what our rule might look like with when and where added: “I work every day for a minimum of 30 minutes, from 8:30, am to 9 am, in the living room.”

Parts of a Habit

The Two-Minute Rule can replace The 30-Minute Rule, sometimes

As things frequently do, something comes up to interfere with our habit building. We have a plumbing emergency, and we have to deal with a plumber, water, clean-up, moving stuff around. Or, more likely, we are so tired, depressed, anxious, burned out, or otherwise not up to a 30-minute work session. Ok, keep your habit-forming brain circuits strengthening regardless. Give your habit a full 2 minutes; don’t worry about the 28 minutes you won’t be doing. Tomorrow you can return and hit all the parts of your new habit.

The two minutes you do work will reaffirm to your head and heart how much you value this habit. You won’t skip this habit even on bad days. It will keep the “habit circuits” humming, and you will get stronger.

We can treat the other parts of our habit with the same flexibility when we need to. We can pick a different block during the day and a different place. Whatever it takes to keep the daily habit going.

When time is an issue, and it is for most of us, you now have the approval to work short. All you have to do is 2 minutes. Keep your head screwed on and distractions at bay for 120 seconds. Show up. Keep working. Keep getting stronger at what you do.