Taking pictures, painting, writing, knitting, cooking delicious, zero waste dishes… All of this is exciting but maybe you’re in my case: you have a daily job and at the end of the day, you just need to relax on your sofa. With a plaid blanket. And a cup of tea. Finding time to be creative is difficult, even if you have plenty of projects and ideas in mind. My name is Marie and I am going to introduce you some tips to help you find time to be creative.
My creative experience as an engineer
For my part, I am an energy and environment engineer, working to build sustainable neighborhoods / cities. I love my job. But, I have always been very creative and it is not possible for me to put aside this part of my life. After several months working, I had the feeling that I will never find time to create. Too tired. Too complicated.
I missed being creative, I needed to find solutions and a plan.
I started looking for books and e-courses about organisation for creatives – including Level Up, Caylee’s e-course that helped me so much. Associated with a strong motivation, I managed to implement some techniques in my daily life, and finally I breathed. I was able to create again without feeling too overwhelmed.
I even felt less stress and found more fresh ideas.
Understand what are your barriers and clarify your goals
Firstly, on Caylee advice, I started by doing a mind map to understand the different areas of my life I should work on to find more time to be creative. I found four: creativity, home, development and job. At first, I thought I will have to work hard on my creativity to find more time. But after a few weeks on focusing only on it, I understood I had to embrace the four areas, trying to be more productive on the four of them to start having the motivation and the organisation to create. Especially, applying new organization techniques for my daily job helped me finding balance.
I also started a notebook to keep a physical track of my motivation, goals and creative time. This notebook helps me to put down on paper my goals and make them more real. For instance, I record if I manage to find time each week to be creative , I write down my small successes but also my difficulties. This enabled me to carry on over the long term.
A new morning routine
Waking up early has been game changing for me. I am convinced it is the key to find more time to create, even if you think you are a night owl. I have been waking up at 6 o’clock instead of 7:45 every day for six months now. At the beginning it was difficult. I listened / read / watched a lot of content to gather tips and understand why it could really help me. The power of a night of sleep is clearly huge when it comes to create on the morning (painting, writing, editing…). This quiet moment will put you in a good mood for the rest of the day for sure.
- To get up early you have to go to bed earlier
- Do not waste your morning time scrolling on social medias and blogs: this is YOUR time
- Have fun with activities that bring joy to you. For me it is watercolors.
- Anticipate what you want to do in the morning the night before. For my part, I write down two or three ideas before going to bed in a memo.
- Although it sounds extreme, stick to your routine, make sure you don’t press the “Snooze” button , and soon you will become addicted to the happiness to be more creative and productive.
- Be uncompromising
This will help you finding more time (maybe only a few minutes, but every bit matters!) regularly.
Making an habit of creating
If you decide you are going to find more time to be creative, you will. Try to list your usual “excuses” and analyse them. If you need, you can try to record a whole week of time to understand where your time goes and to try finding more focus (see later the app “Rescue Time”).
When you find time and focus, try to be regular and transform this creative time into an habit, especially if you want to progress. Keep the creative moment a moment of relaxation, joy, pleasure not frustration …. !
Maybe you don’t find time to be creative because you are not inspired? You are afraid you won’t come up with an idea immediately. My solution to this, helping me to constantly wanting to create, is learning. I’m addicted to learning, especially online.
Platforms for creatives I tried (apart from Caylee’s e-course obviously ;) ):
- Creativebug: I love the twist and quality of Creativebug courses (painting , drawing, sewing, crochet, etc.). Access to all e-courses is free for the first 15 days, then $4.95 per month
- CreativeLIVE: The e-courses are free if you watch them live and then it costs between $30 and $100 (I tested a course).
- Skillshare: it’s $1 for the first 3 months subscription. There are so many videos to look at, it is very inspiring.
- Craftsy: On this platform, you can buy good quality e-courses per unit (no subscription). I tried two about watercolors.
Everyday, I listen to one or two podcasts that keep me inspired each time I sit at my table and start creating. For instance: Make it happen, Elise gets crafty, Seanwes, Magic lessons… There are created by very talented people and I learn a lot from each time I press Play.
Of course Youtube is a huge source of inspiration. My favorite channel for the moment is Fran Meneses @Franned. :)
Another idea to help you staying inspired and motivated to create is to start a project or a series. Find something you are really really motivated to dive into. You can also choose to improve your piano practice or watercolors for instance by envisioning your path to progression as an adventure rather than a load. Sometimes, you just need to adjust your vision, be positive and the rest will follow.
Find the time to be creative with the right tools
To help you find time to be creative, I suggest you use the right tools (see Level 3 of Level Up). At first I was skeptical about some of them but honestly it really changed my daily life.
This tool has revolutionized my daily life. This is an app to manage to do lists. You can synchronize the application on the computer, on the phone, add plugins to browsers, connect mailbox … The idea is simple: divide the tasks by project and sub-project, set dates, occurrences, filters, priorities etc. I apply it in all areas of my mind map. First, I wanted to target only the creative aspect. But I realized that I needed to have a broader vision and target the whole organization of my daily life to find time to be creative. Having everything in the app helped me freeing my mind and gave me so much booooost when it comes to crossing each box.
Pomodoro is a timer. It works with cycles of 25 minutes of deep concentration + 5 minute break (= a pomodoro). After four pomodoros (about 2 hours), you can take a 20-minute break. At first I wasn’t sure to like Pomodoro, too strict … I tried it at work, not for my personal projects and I really struggled. I noticed I wasn’t even able to focus more than 15 minutes. That really bothered me to realize that I wasn’t effective enough at work, I was in “the chain of doom” (see this video at 6:27), I needed to break it. I persisted, trying to get focus with pomodoro and now I have trouble working without Pomodoro. The app really helped me managing my time. When I come back home after a good day of productive work I find more motivation and time to create, with a clear mind!
Moreover, as I had a good quality working day, I can finish my day earlier, for example 30 minutes earlier without feeling guilty (I don’t have a fix schedule). This leaves more time to be creative right?
I was using Keep before using Todoist. This is a very good memo app you can sync on your computer / smartphone. I use it before going to bed to write things I would like to do the next day. I also have a memo “ideas container” on it where I note any new ideas spontaneously (mainly on the bus).
RescueTime is an app you can install on your computer to see exactly how you spend your time on it. You can see exactly how long you’ve been on Facebook, emails or writing, etc. I can see for instance that I spent 6 hours last week on Facebook. Six hours. Wow! I could have been painting all this time!