Why do some of us struggle to find time for what we love doing the most? For handmade artists, that’s a passion for making things. Artists thrive on creating, and yet busy schedules, other parts of running a business, and external demands can prove challenging to prioritizing the actual artistic process. Here are some tips for finding internal focus, devoting more time to what makes you happy, and reconnecting with what makes you tick.
1. Make Making a Priority
Don’t let your life’s passion take the backseat. Set aside blocks of time on your calendar for just creating. Instead of trying to squeeze in creative time where you can, why not build your larger schedule around what you most enjoy? Figure out what time of day you feel most creative and productive and carefully plan around it.
2. Ditch the Guilt
If the above feels indulgent, closely consider the positive effects that creativity has on the rest of your life. Look at your creative outlets as necessary for stress relief, restorative alone time, and personal satisfaction, and you’ll find it easier to carve out the time for them.
3. Take Advantage of Your Own Tendencies
When do you feel more inspired? Keep a log of your mood and energy levels throughout the day, noting when you feel the most creative and drawn to hands-on artistic work. This way you can use use that time to your full advantage.
4. Develop a Routine
Once you’ve determined when you feel the most creative, it’s time to get serious about discipline. Build a daily practice that makes the most of your peak creative windows, and do your best to commit to it.
Lisa Golightly, a painter and full-time Etsy seller of Kiki & Polly, says the hardest part of her creative process is the act of walking to her studio. “Establishing a routine for what needs to get done, and when, really helps me,” she says.
Get in the practice of doing something creative every day, even if all you can manage is a few moments. For example, knit a few rows over lunch or sketch during your commute. This way, even on days where you aren’t able to commit to a larger routine, your creative work retains a place in your day.
5. Be Proactive
A common problem among workers today is a phenomenon that psychologists call “reactionary workflow,” whereby we spend the majority of our working hours and energy reacting to external stimuli like emails, instead of on projects we intentionally set out to do that are important to us. “Rather than being proactive with our energy, we are acting in response to what is incoming,” writes Behance founder Scott Belsky in “Beware Reactionary Workflow” from the website 99U.
To combat this pattern, Dr. LeeAnn Renninger recommends becoming aware of how you’re working throughout the day. The Director of LifeLabs suggests taking five minutes each day to pause, check in with yourself and ask, “Am I working proactively or reactively right now?” Then, take baby steps toward devoting more time to the proactive work which will leave you more fulfilled.
6. Eliminate Distractions
With today's access to instant information and constant social sharing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. “Creative minds are exceedingly sensitive to the buzz and whir of the world around them,” writes Belsky in the book Manage Your Day. “As these urgent demands tug us this way and that, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a centered space for creativity.”
If you find your time or attention being eaten up by online activity, consider removing your computer or digital devices from your workspace. Also, complete other life tasks (for example, cleaning and laundry) that could infringe on your designated creative time beforehand. Streamline and delegate other business tasks that you’re less interested in so you have more time and energy to devote to creating.
7. Accept That Being Creative Is Not Always Easy
Like any job, making art is hard work. If you don’t expect it to feel easy, you may feel less discouraged on days that are especially challenging. “I find I have to really push myself, put my head down, and get to work,” Lisa says. “ It's not always easy, but getting new work completed feels amazing.”
8. Cut Yourself Some Slack
Once you’ve found a routine that works, you can loosen the strings a bit. Janet Hill of Janet Hill Studio says she no longer pushes herself to the extreme. “If I'm having a bad day creatively, I walk away from it and do something else and return to it fresh the next day,” she says.
Though structure and time management are key to the productivity, so too is the process of letting your creative mind wander. Strauss says some of her best ideas strike when she’s out for a walk. “I don't think an idea has ever come while sitting in my studio staring at a blank canvas,” she says.
9. Face Your Fear
If you try these steps and still have trouble prioritizing your creative time, address what else may be holding your back. Maybe it’s not lack of time but fear that holds you back. Fear of failure? What about fear of success? Look your fear straight in the face and get to the bottom of it to clear the path for more creative fulfillment.
10. Value Your Creative Work
Treat your creativity and the fruits of your labor as your most precious assets. If you think of your creativity as your lifeblood, you’ll start to see it as a source of fuel for everything else that you do.
For other time management tips, check out 3 Easy Steps for Managing Time and Reaching Your Goals. Got tips for making time to create? Share in comments below.