Doing “That Thing You Do”

Lovely image from

I bet you have a special thing. Some hobby, or interest that makes you giddy. When you work on it your smile stretches from ear-to-ear, and you realize just how beautiful life really is.

If you spend some of your free time plugging away at projects that give you that good feeling, kudos! Rock on! This post really isn’t for you, though. This piece of writing is for all of my peeps that neglect their projects.  You know who you are.

Maybe you have been too busy working at your day job to really work on “Project You 2.0.” Perhaps it got lost in the hustle/shuffle that is “real world’ life. Are you spending your extra time trying to make some extra cash? I feel ya.

Extra cash is a good thing, but what about your special thing, you know the thing that you love to do just for the sake of doing it?

Are you neglecting THAT thing?  The thing that soothes you, sustains you, and feeds your creative soul. The thing that makes everything all right again during the dark moments.

If you are anything like me, you’ve probably been neglecting it. But alas, we aren’t going to bash ourselves. Nope, we’re going to figure out how to bring it back. (Resisting the urge to throw in a Sexyback/J.Tim reference here.)

Story time!

I have a colleague who is the most organized person I know. I love going into her office because her sense of order calms me when I feel like all is crazy in my work world (plus my desk is a disaster zone!).  She recently revealed to me that she enjoys drawing portraits. There is just something about recreating human faces that makes her giddy.  She caries around a little blue notebook and a pencil with her. She keeps her tools in a clear, plastic pouch (If she ever considers a second career in professional organizing, she would be so on point!).  She wrote her name and the date inside the notebook when she purchased it.  The odd part of this story?

This notebook, that she has had since 2003 is blank.  She has yet to draw a single picture. She’s been carrying around this blank notebook for the last 8 years.

The list of reasons why her notebook remains empty might sounds familiar to you. Lack of time. Putting “work-work” first. Drained of energy and motivation. My colleague had done everything to set herself up to draw, draw, draw, except actually reminding herself of how important it is to actual do her thing. The thing that makes her feel giddy and in awe of the universe.

This sucks. And if you have been doing the same thing, it’s time to say,  “Hey, my personal projects are important, too!”

So how can you show your project the love it deserves? Here are some ideas:

1.  Make portable progress/ Utilize random downtime
You probably have more downtime than you realize. Think about it. If you are waiting on a friend to try on clothes during a shopping trip, that is a free moment. When you are sipping your latte at your generic coffee shop of choice, what is that? Downtime.  Carry around an ideas notebook that you can bust out when you get a chance.

2. Set aside a specific amount of time to devote to your project
Maybe you declare “Work for Me Wednesdays”. Make a date with yourself and honor it. You wouldn’t flake out on a good friend, so treat yourself the same way.

3. Contribute your gifts in a meaningful way.
If you pledge to do something fantastic with your project/talents, how can you not make time to work on it? If artwork is your thing, maybe you volunteer to paint murals, or create art for a place that is desperately in need of it.

What is that thing you do?  And how do you make the time to work on it?  Holla at me in the comments!


  1. SirWalter says:

    I have so many unfinished projects. Grad school obligations take up a lot of my time. Now, if I could get a thesis out of one of my projects, that would be too perfect. I like your blog btw. I just read a few of your entries so far. Keep it up.

    • Amber J. says:

      Thank you Sir Walter! I’m sure you are up to greatness. I have no doubt that you will finish the projects!

  2. Keri says:

    Hi, I found your website via this list:

    Picturing that empty notebook is so sad! It’s so important to take time for stuff like this. I have problems with feeling horribly guilty when doing something that’s not productive. I’m getting better at talking myself out of it. Sometimes it’s hard to realize you need to take time to be UNproductive sometimes so that you CAN be productive!

  3. KeKeMichel says:

    I definitely use # 2, for my major endeavor that I am working on. However, that one day still is not enough. But, at least scheduling one day is better than no days.

    • Amber J. says:

      1 day is better than no days, and I have faith that you will figure out how to turn it into more days. Everything really does begin with a single step.

  4. Christa says:

    Love this post. First I am going to really have to figure out what the thing is that I really would love to do and then make time. I will start brainstorming today.

    • Amber J. says:

      Thank you Christa! Be sure to let me know what you come up with! I love to see people doing their thing!

  5. Kim says:

    Amber, you did it again. This is a beautifully written and inspirational post. I agree wholeheartedly with your first point. We have more time than we realize. I recently sat down and audited all the time I waste that I could spend being productive and I was amazed. Great post.

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