Strategies to be creative when you don't think you have the time.

At this time of the year, it is always difficult for me to find time to work on a creative project. My day job is very busy this time of year and I always come home exhausted. In addition to that, there are lots of holiday functions my husband signs us up for to be social with family and friends. Inevitably with everything going on I don't find time to draw or color or anything creative. Each day flies by and when my head finally touches the pillow at the end of the day, I promise myself I will find time tomorrow to be creative. When I go too many days without being creative, I tend to become cranky and irritable. When that happens, my husband reminds me not to go eat a snickers bar but to simply go draw something lol. One time when my husband told me I need to go draw something I explained I simply don't have the time. He looked me in the eyes and said, "time is relative”. He went on to say, “the time you are spending now on your daily tasks is being done with this cranky attitude and it is making you miserable--make time to be creative and lift your mood so your other tasks are not so daunting." Apparently, I married the right guy because he totally gets me. Those were the words I needed to hear to get me back on track. Those words alone didn't solve the problem but got me to look at what I am doing each day to figure out how to find time to be creative.

Usually, I find time at the end of my day to do something creative. It is not a planned thing it is just something to do instead of watching tv, plus I love to just hang out in my creative space. Well, when I get busy or worn out, I find I don't go to my creative space, instead I find myself thinking eh maybe tomorrow. This is where I realized I needed to make a daily plan for being creative. I must schedule it in my day like I do my work tasks to be sure it gets done. Here is the issue I struggled with - time. I want to spend lots of time being creative which is why I would not do it because I don't have lots of time. Then I asked myself how much time is “a lot” - I mean really that is an ambiguous term. I guess I expected to spend 2 hours or more but when I thought about it, I had to ask myself if I only have fun after I hit the 2-hour mark. Of course not, I have fun the moment I pick up a pencil, a paint brush, or a marker. So why do I deny myself the fun because I think I need two hours? When this realization hit me, I really did laugh out loud at myself. I made a deal with myself right then. I could (and would) find 20 minutes of fun every day. But saying it and doing it are definitely two different things. So, I had to really find time in my day to schedule 20 minutes for fun. I pulled out my daily planner and looked for where I had time. Like I said before I don't have much free time at this time of the year. I had to be creative to figure out where I could find the time so I brainstormed a list of ideas for me that would allow me to isolate 20 minutes of my time to have creative fun.

  • Wake up 20 minutes early and have my creative time first thing in the morning

  • Spend 20 minutes of my workday lunch break (bring my creative travel kit to work)

  • Plan crockpot dinners so that dinner preparation in the evening takes much less time

  • Use the time on the commuter train to/from work twice a week for sketching

  • While on the phone with family and friends I could pick up my sketchbook and be creative

Those are just a few of the things I jotted down as possible ways to get in my 20 minutes of fun. I will say that I thought just getting up early and knocking it out first thing would be my go-to because it would ensure that I start my day with a smile on my face. The reality was I couldn’t make that work every day. So, I thought I could just do one of the other things on the list, but I fell into the trap again because as my day got busy, and once again, I didn’t get my 20 minutes of fun. I laid my head down on my pillow at night and would just be irritated that I didn't find “my” 20 minutes to be creative again today.

I will share with you what I started doing so I make sure nothing comes between me and my fun time. I started setting fun alarms on my phone. I know it sounds crazy but in my mind it makes perfect sense. I use an alarm to wake me up in the morning and get going for the day. Why wouldn't that work for me in the middle of the day. I need to be woken up from juggling all my daily tasks to get started on my 20 minutes of fun. This process has worked perfectly for me. I look forward to my fun alarm each day. If I cannot get my fun time first thing in the morning, then I set my fun alarm. Yes, it is labeled in my phone as "Fun Time". The excitement builds for me through the day as I watch the clock managing my time as I work through my tasks. If I have fun time set for 3:00 pm, then at 2:00 pm I start to wind down the task I am involved with. Or if I am on the phone with someone, I let them know I have an appointment at 3:00 pm and I will have to go. It works perfectly for me.

This process of making my creative time a priority for 20 minutes each day has brought back fun in my life. Especially this time of year when it is easy to get bogged down with other things. That is when finding time for yourself is one thing you can put off.

If being creative is important to you then don't let it slip away.

What's happening in the Corner . . .

Has colder weather arrived where you live? Do you find yourself inside trying to stay warm? Why not pick up some knitting needles and start knitting a warm scarf. Hey, hold the presses, we don't knit here we color. So join us this month as we pick up our markers, colored pencils, and/or watercolors and learn to create a knit texture on paper!

If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Work-at-Your-Own-Pace Practice for Texture:Knit here.

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