Finding Time For Your Creative Passion In The New Year
We’ve all been in a similar conundrum: it’s 8:00 p.m., you’ve just finished supper after a long day at the office (or at the shop, or at school, or at the studio). You’re washing the dishes or loading the dishwasher and thinking about all the things you have to do tomorrow. You’re dead tired, but you finish the task knowing that if you don’t do it, it’s not going to get done. All you want to do is burrow into the couch and watch another episode of Stranger Things (or The Crown, or Easy, or Mindhunter). Then a thought passes through your mind — you really should take the few hours that you have free to write. To finish that project you’ve been working on that you were so excited about a few weeks ago. You feel a twinge of delight and then the gutting feeling of regret because you already know that you’ll find yourself half of a spoon deep in a pint of ice-cream in about 30 minutes, burrito-ed in your softest afghan and that creative passion that you swore to pursue will be the furthest thing from your mind.
It’s easy to do, and I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m guilty of such procrastination. As of late I’ve been over my head with graduate school work, health management and a time-sporadic personal life. On top of everything else, I recently realized I have zero time management skills. With a full schedule on some days and a totally open one on others, it’s extremely hard to manage creative priorities. I’ve found myself asking “Which activity should come first when I have a little bit of time to spare?” and also “How can I find a way to push this off until later.” The combination of those two questions quickly leaves me discombobulated, overwhelmed and exhausted to the point where I usually throw in the towel and do something else instead.
Out of creative necessity to make the New Year a proactive endeavor, I created this simple list of three time management strategies to help myself stay sane. And do you know what I found out? I am in control of my own time. No one is controlling my 24 hour schedule but me and if I follow at least one of these strategies, I know I’m going to get the work done.
Make the time
For years I would journal when I felt like it and finish projects and assignments at the last possible moment because time got away from me. Over and over mentors had told me to set a block of time aside for my writing and I would see an improvement in my productivity. Only this year did I realize the truth in those words and started making time each day to write.
What’s the best way to start making time? Get real about your time on a day-to-day basis. I keep track of my day on iCal and on a physical planner. It helps to get a visual of the time that you have free. Slot out 30 minutes or an hour each day for your passion project and hold yourself accountable for it. Don’t make excuses, just stick to the routine.
Don’t overbook yourself
If you want to make sure you have time for your passion project, be able to say no to other things and other people. At first it might seem self-serving, but it’s okay to make yourself a priority. This is especially if you’re a pleaser or a fixer, like I am.
I have the tendency to want to make sure that everyone else is happy, even if its at my own expense. I found that I was doing this both in my work life and in my personal life — therefore forfeiting any time I had for my own projects. In order to maintain any kind of creative task in my life, I had to start saying no. “No, I don’t have time to help you with that.” “No, I don’t have time to *insert certain extra task here*.” “I’m trying to limit my busy schedule. We can talk about this some time soon, but just not right now.”
You’ll be surprised as to how well this tactic works.
Set a routine
Clearing up time for your creative passion will give you an opportunity to get a routine going. Even the flightiest of minds can follow a routine if the effort is put forth to do it. It took me a long time to realize that setting a routine is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your craft.
By setting up a specific time out of your day to do you work, it’s guaranteed that you’ll make some kind of progress (as long as you follow through with it) whether it be a few brush strokes, sentences, sketch marks or molding. Just make sure that during this time you’re doing some kind of activity to do with this.
Words by Molly Williams