Everyone I talk to about doing artistic work raises the topic of needing more time in the day. “I’m so busy–how can I squeeze in my creative pursuits?” Here are some quick tips that may help.
1. Give Up Something
Choose a specific activity that you will give up to make time for your creative work. Maybe you don’t need to watch all 162 games of your favorite baseball team. Maybe you can give up that committee you’ve been volunteering on for nineteen years. It’s not that these are bad things, but sometimes you need to say no to other activities to make room for your creative work.
What you are telling yourself: “I am doing my work. My work matters as much as everything else in my busy life.”
2. Handle Distractions
The phone ringing, the kids doing kid stuff, noise from outside, your sore left knee. The dirty dishes and the dirty laundry and the plant by the window that needs watering. And there’s always something to look at on the Web. Immersing yourself in creative work will require you to block out the world for a while.
Then there are the distractions from within. “My boss was such a pain today.” “Maybe I’m no good at this writing thing.” Whatever thoughts arise that are not contributing to your work, let them float away down the stream of consciousness.
For most people, the earlier in the day you start your creative work, the fewer the distractions. If getting started early is available to you, give it a try.
What you are telling yourself: “It’s hard to do my work with such a busy life, but I am equal to these distractions.”
3. Create Every Day
Pick a time and place where you’ll work every day. Tell the other people in your house, “I’m writing each morning before I get ready for work.” Hang up a sign to remind you and others of your plan.
If you want to create in a fulfilling way, you need to put in the time and attention. There are no shortcuts. Getting to your work every day will help you move from dabbling to creating.
You may need a transition period if all you can manage are a few minutes per day. Even a little time and space each day is a good start. If you can begin to spend a little more thought and effort on creating, then you’re heading in the right direction.
What you are telling yourself: “My artistic work demands a great deal of time and brain power. So I will show up to work every day.”
4. Plan A Project
Let’s say you show up at your chosen time and place to do some writing, You will also need a concrete idea of what you will write. You will need a form and a goal. Think in terms of describing your current project to others. “I’m writing a short story, a dark suspense thing.” “I’m writing an article about the need for improvements to the parks and playgrounds in the south half of town.” “I’m working on the second draft of my novel.”
This goes for other types of work too. A musician practices honestly when she can state her aim for that session with her instrument. An artist works with focus when he knows what he is painting.
Treat “to create” as a transitive verb, always needing an object. What specifically are you working on?
What you are telling yourself: “I know what I am working on. I’m not just creating–I’m creating something.”
When you put tips like these to use, you are sending a message to yourself and others that your work matters. Most of us have time in our hectic lives to get our creating done. See if you can use a few of these ideas to get more momentum behind your artistic work.
Sometimes life is just too busy, and there truly is no time to give to your creating. If that is your situation, be patient, and look for opportunities to simplify other parts of your life so you can get to your creative endeavors in the future.