Too often, the mundane realities of being an adult leave creatives struggling to stay connected to their passions. They must balance working full-time, maintaining a home, paying the bills and doing chores.
With all these responsibilities, it is easy to feel as if there is just no time or energy to devote to writing, painting, sculpting, playing instruments or any of the dozens of other creative pursuits that so many people love and long to master.
Despite the prevalent notion that creative pursuits are for “starving artists” with the luxury of dedicating themselves to their passions full-time, there is a myriad of ways to pursue the hobbies and arts you love, while working full-time. Most of tips, tricks and strategies involved in making time for creative pursuits start with knowing where your time and energy are going. From there, creatives can begin the sometimes slow – but powerful – process of reallocating their resources and reintroducing their passions to their lives.
Learn Where Your Time is Going
There are 168 hours in every week. If you sleep eight hours a night and work 40 hours a week, you have an average of 72 hours left each week to dedicate to other pursuits. The first step to making time for creative pursuits is understanding where those hours are going. Keeping a time log, or using a time-tracking app for a week or two, can give you a good picture of how you are spending your time.
The second step in the process is evaluating where your time is going. Are there activities in your life eating up much larger chunks of time than you expected? Does your time log suggest that you have been unwittingly losing time to low-value and low-reward activities, like watching television or scrolling through social media? Are you spending unexpectedly long periods of time waiting in lines or on other people? Time logs can make it easy to spot “lost” time that can be easily recovered and dedicated to creative projects, instead.
An optional third step in this part of the process is looking for places where you can automate or delegate unimportant – but necessary and time-consuming – tasks to free up additional time. Examples might include setting up recurring purchases for household staples online so that you can spend less time grocery shopping or assigning some easy chores to your children, instead of always doing them yourself.
Manage Your Energy
Energy levels are not constant. They ebb and flow throughout individual days, and across the week. How much energy you have at any given time can be related to your personal biochemistry, your schedule and other lifestyle factors. Tracking your energy, much the same way you tracked your time, can help you understand when you have the most energy available, and when you tend to have very little.
Schedule your creative pursuits during periods of time when you are the most focused and energetic. Move routine, low-energy tasks to days or hours during which you have less energy. You will likely find that you consistently accomplish more over the course of a week than you would if you had invested more hours on your project, but had done so during low-energy or low-focus periods.
Another important aspect of managing your energy in support of creative pursuits is focusing on only one task at a time. Attempting to multi-task creative projects, while also engaged in other work, hampers creative energy, and leads to serious drops in productivity on all fronts. Reserve your creative pursuits for times when you can fully pay attention to them. When you do pick them up, leave everything else aside, until you are finished.
Prioritize Your Creative Time, While Allowing Flexibility
Time management experts preach that to build a life you love and realize the goals and dreams you hold most dear, you must consciously prioritize the things that matter most. This means scheduling your creative time into your week in advance. Treat your creative time the way you would any appointment or social engagement. Decline invitations that would force you to miss your scheduled creative time. By setting boundaries around your creative time, you not only program your brain to expect that time and to be primed for it, but you communicate the importance of your pursuits to others.
Do not, however, limit yourself only to your scheduled time. Train yourself to be on the lookout for opportunities to “sneak in” extra time. The time log you completed can give you helpful hints of where you might expect these opportunities to crop up. Common examples of “lost time” that can easily be reclaimed for creative purposes include:
- Standing in line or sitting in waiting rooms.
- Waiting in the school pickup loop for your children after school.
- Commuting via public transit.
Keeping a notepad with you for recording ideas, thoughts and questions can help you make use of those small, inconsistent chunks of time. If you have a smartphone, you might also be able to use those brief moments to research something you had questions about, to reach out to fellow creatives or to browse for inspiration. Though each opportunity may be small in – and of – itself, over time, each can add up to big results.
Make Technology Work for You
There are innumerable apps and technologies available to help creatives pursue their goals and passions. Exploring these options and selecting the ones that best fit your needs can be tremendously helpful in remaining focused and achieving your goals. You can consider tools like:
- Time-saving apps. From apps that let you order sensible meals or healthy groceries and have them delivered straight to your door, to banking apps that allow you to skip errands and cut down on travel time, there are scores of helpful digital assistance options that can reduce the amount of time and energy you spend on the minutia of daily life. Find out which ones work for you, and use them to free up precious time for your passions.
- Passion-specific apps. Freelance writers can download apps that help them catch, store and organize ideas and inspirations while they are on the run. Similar apps exist for almost every area of interest. Downloading these types of apps and integrating them into your life can help you take advantage of spare minutes, and then funnel them into your pursuits.
- Social networking apps. Connecting with other creatives who share your passions and frustrations can keep creative juices flowing, and provide much-needed encouragement on rough weeks.
Related Article: Learn to Identify Common Productivity Killers and How to Fix Them