The following is a guest post by Ali Luke, a writer and writing coach. She has a free ebook on How to Find Time for Your Writing available for download when you join her newsletter list (you’ll also get access to other free ebooks, plus quick weekly tips to help you stay motivated and inspired with your writing).
If you enjoy art, writing or music, you might find it frustratingly hard to make time to do your creative work. In the rush of the day-to-day, our schedules and planners and to-do lists are often good at coping with the more mundane tasks (“buy milk”) – but creative work gets sidelined for another day.
If you want to be an artist or a writer or a musician, you need to find the time – even when life’s busy. Here are six ways to do just that:
#1: Don’t Pack Your Schedule Too Full
Do you ever get the urge to work on your masterpiece…in the middle of a hectic day or week? You might find that by the time the weekend rolls around, you’ve lost that creative impulse. If you can, keep some slack in your schedule – make sure that you’ve got space to juggle things around, just in case the muse descends.
#2: Look Ahead in Your Calendar
At the start of each week, you might find that you have no blank space in your calendar. If you look ahead a few weeks, though, there’s probably a fair bit of unscheduled time. Block out some full days or weekends for your creative work – and you’ll find it easier to avoid over-committing.
#3: Apply Good Time Management Skills in Other Areas…
If your time management skills are generally poor, you’ll find that you often end up working in the evenings or struggling to get everything done. By staying on task (even if what you’re tackling is a bit dull), you’ll free up extra time for more interesting, creative work.
#4: …But Relax When You’re Creating
It can be a mistake to focus on “productivity” in your creative work. If you have a constant eye on your output (number of sketches completed, words written, songs composed) then it’s hard to relax into your work and get into the flow state of peak creativity. Focus on spending a certain amount of time engaged in your creative work, and don’t become too attached to achieving a particular goal in that time.
#5: Find Your Best Hours
Sometimes, it’s easy to sit down and create, and you can’t wait to get started; other times, you’ll find yourself doing the dishes or mowing the lawn or doing almost anything to avoid your creative work. When you’re planning out your creative times, try to position them at the point of the day when you’re at your best. For me, that’s in the mornings, but you might work best in the afternoons or evenings. If you’re not sure, experiment to find when you’re most focused and engaged.
#6: Protect Your Creative Times
It’s sadly all too easy to let life encroach into the times you’ve blocked out for creativity. You need to ring-fence those times and keep them safe. That means saying “no” to conflicting commitments – but it also means trying your best to avoid interruptions and distractions while you’re working. Turn off the phone, close the door, and shut out the world for an hour or two.
Question: Are you engaged in any creative activities? How do you find time for them amongst the other demands of life? Share your tips and ideas in the comments below.