The focus of my life currently is this:

Produce more. Consume less.

It’s a bold statement. With so much great stuff on the internet, and with it being so easy to be sucked into Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, and galleries, I’m needing to step back all the more. We consume so many things every day that actively trying to produce more than that is a big feat. There are two ways of doing it: either producing more than a hundred things per day, or drastically reducing how much you consume and making more than that number. I don’t want what I make to be influenced by someone else’s. I don’t want to be comparing how much I make. I don’t want to be making less because I’m too busy staring in awe at someone else’s stuff. I want my Ideas book to be a to do list and I want to GSD.

There are a million reasons why I want to consume less and the number one reason is to produce more. I want to make a lot of stuff. I want to make up for lost time. I want to record all my memories before I lose them. I want to make a whole bunch of rubbish stuff so that I can get to making the good stuff.

And so I made an action plan. Here are the ways that I’m shifting my default to producing instead of consuming:

  1. Make things. Simple enough, right? Just do it.
  2. Throw away fears of making embarrassing things. Make them anyway. My theory, that I keep repeating, is that we have a certain number of things that we make that will be rubbish. Best to get them over and done with as soon as possible so that you can move onto the great things.
  3. Work towards becoming a master. We all know of the statement that it takes 10 000 hours of practice to become a master. I only recently learned that this is an actual number coming from an actual study (The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance by a guy named Anders done in Berlin – how perfect for me). Work deliberately towards those 10 000 hours and in the end, you’ll either become an expert, or you’ll have a whole bunch of pretty stuff. It’s a win-win-win, really.
  4. Set specific times for creating. You can’t just expect to find some time to create. You’ve gotta make the time.
  5. Get away from technology. When you create, don’t look to Pinterest for inspiration. Look inside (cue motivational music). Turn your phone on Do Not Disturb, Plane Mode, or turn off network connection.
  6. Change your environment. Try moving to a different room in the house, create outside, or take your journal to a coffee shop.
  7. Clean up your desk.
  8. Reorganise your work space.
  9. Leave your cellphone in another room. Sometimes I’m unable to turn my phone off because I’m expecting a phone call for a delivery or a business call. If I leave my phone downstairs I’m still able to run to it when it rings, but I’m not able to keep checking it.
  10. Use distraction-free writing. If you’re with WordPress, there’s that fabulous Distraction Free Writing option (I’m using it now), otherwise there’s Omniwriter, WriteRoom, Dark Room, or… you know… a notebook. Concentrate on your words. Write deliberately. Even if it’s only a blog post.
  11. Start with the products. What does a certain line of products inspire you to create?
  12. Start with the photos. What kind of project do you want to create with your set of photos?
  13. Schedule an amount of time to make something. In the same way that having a kid can sometimes make you more productive in his or her one hour nap, set yourself a limit. Put a timer on (Pomodoro is great). The fact that there’s a little countdown is enough to make you work more efficiently and fuss about less.
  14. Finish unfinished projects.
  15. Keep an unfinished projects box. Keep that box in plain sight. Work on these before starting new projects.
  16. If you no longer love a project, release the guilt and throw it away. This is a big one. Simply starting something is not enough of a reason to finish, so give yourself permission to let it go.
  17. Make something that doesn’t require preparation. Art journals are so great for this.
  18. Make an action plan. Sometimes a project is just so big and overwhelming that you don’t know where to start. An example of this is my family photobooks that I’m working on. Writing absolutely every detail I can think of before starting, and coming up with a detailed action plan helps me to get it done. Some days you really just can’t create no matter how badly you want to. Use these days to make an action plan for creating.
  19. Turn creating into a habit. Strengthen those creative muscles.
  20. Wake up earlier. This has been my personal number one way to produce more. Right now it’s 5am.
  21. Stop making excuses. There is nothing standing between 100 beautiful new creations other than you.
  22. You don’t not have time. What are you doing between 3am and 4am? (Unless you’re Kelsey and perpetually awake). One hour of sleep less per week is not going to change your life. Everyone has the same amount of time in a day, and the only difference between you and someone you admire is how you choose to spend your time. You make time by giving up something else.
  23. You don’t not have supplies. If you have a pen and paper you have supplies. If I can have supplies in a third world African country, you can have supplies.
  24. You don’t not have talent. How do you think the Greats became great? They made stuff. A lot of stuff with a lot of their time.
  25. You don’t not have motivation. You don’t not have ideas. Guess what? same as talent. No one has these, they create them.
  26. Work with one tab open. If you absolutely need to get onto the internet or computer, work with one tab open. Single task. You’ll get the task done in a shorter amount of time with greater quality.
  27. Give yourself time to just think.
  28. Give yourself time to be bored.
  29. Work within boundaries. It’s amazing how much better our brain works when given restraints. Use prompts, put out a set of limited supplies to work with, put that timer on…
  30. Find a community. Get Messy has been a fantastic reason for me personally to create every single week. If it was just for me, I would have given up ages ago. A community makes you accountable, gives you inspiration, and cheers you on. It’s beautiful. If there isn’t a community for what you’re looking for, simply make one and invite a bunch of people.
  31. Find an accountability partner. A more focused approach. Andrea and Olya are fantastic examples of how well accountability partners can work. Make a friend in the community, and ask them if they wouldn’t mind if you were accountable to them. And actually be accountable. Honour your commitment to this other person.
  32. Join a challenge. Again with the community thing. #365craftingtime is busy happening so there’s no excuse.
  33. Start your own challenge. It can be a personal one, or you can invite others to join. You can take another challenge and give your own parameters to work with. Sabine is really great at creating challenges for herself.
  34. Use your ideas notebook as a to do list. Instead of just recording ideas, actually start doing them. Same for Pinterest boards. Stop wishing and start doing.
  35. Use someone else’s project as inspiration. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but it directly turns consumption into production.
  36. Try something completely new.
  37. Go for a walk. 
  38. Unsubscribe from as many mailing lists as you can. Do you really need to get that newsletter that makes you hit delete automatically each time it hits your inbox? There’s a wonderful service that shows you exactly who has your email address, and allows you to unsubscribe.
  39. Unfollow as many blogs as you can. Keep a Pinterest board for the ones that you’d like to check up every few months and go through them when you have allocated the time to yourself. Don’t allow them to trickle into your daily blog feed. Don’t worry about being out of the loop. If something is The Next Big Thing, you’re going to know about it whether you’re following or not.
  40. Unfollow people on Instagram. Unless 99% of someone’s feed is of value to you, don’t follow them. No hard feelings. I keep a list of people whose feeds I love in my search to check on every so often. Unfollowing doesn’t mean never seeing them again. When you follow less people on IG and BlogLovin, you also feel the need to check these avenues less often.
  41. Turn off automatic notifications on your phone. When you have the time, check it. Don’t allow apps to demand your attention. I’ve even turned off my email notifications and only check when I have time to give each new email my full attention. The only thing that you need to be instantly notified about is a phone call.
  42. Delete as many apps off your phone as possible. If the only reason you “need” Facebook on your phone is to check what’s happening in everyone else’s life? That’s not a reason. If you have a Facebook page for your business then you can devote the time to get onto your computer and respond to anything there.
  43. Move the tempting apps. Shift them to a different screen, and into folders. Out of sight, out of mind. Make a bit of extra effort to get to those, and you’ll automatically use them less.
  44. Take away internet bookmarks. Put everything into to do lists (for things you want to read) or Pinterest boards (for things you occasional check). If you’re not using them every day, you don’t need them. If you can remember the site address, you don’t need them. Especially do not have Facebook or similar as a bookmark!
  45. Make it difficult for yourself to consume.
  46. Actually finish an online course that you’ve bought.
  47. Share your work. Start a blog, post pictures on Instagram or Flickr, upload to the Studio Calico or Gossamer Blue gallery. Consistently post even if you don’t have a following. Do it for yourself so that you can see how far you’ve come; to see how much stuff you’ve actually already made. Give your projects the added love that is required of uploading them to the internet. Allow people to consume your stuff.
  48. Do something creative repeatedly. Create daily or weekly. Start small. Eventually you will have a whole collection of work. It can be as small as taking a good photo. It can be finishing an entire year of Project Life. Just do something. If you skip a day, that’s okay, but never skip two days in a row.
  49. Use a new tool or creative method. Creativity in a way that you’re not used to completely amplifies creativity in another realm.
  50. Learn a new skill. I don’t mean buy a new class. I mean actively work towards adding a skill to your repertoire.
  51. Sketch. Even if it’s just a doodle. Even if it’s rubbish.
  52. Go on a photo walk. Look at the world around you with new eyes. Make the ordinary extraordinary. Cameras are a great way to do this, and you don’t even need a fancy one. You don’t even need a camera. Try sketching. No one will ever see the world the same way you do.
  53. Give yourself a requirement when reading a blog. If you require yourself to leave a thoughtful comment on every blog post you read, you’re going to become very selective about what you consume. You’re going to ignore a lot more posts, and that’s a good thing.
  54. Set aside time for consuming. This sounds like the opposite of how to not consume, but if you give yourself an allocated hour in a day then it’s easier to stop yourself at other times, and you won’t feel as guilty.
  55. Have a social media fast. If you are unable to tear yourself away from social media, give yourself an all-out ban for a week or a set amount of time. Announce it, or don’t. This is about you.
  56. Know yourself and how you are feeling on a specific day. If you are incredibly motivated and enthusiastic, take on one of your big ideas. If you are on your third cup of coffee two hours into your day, just do something small. The idea is to do something.
  57. Take a creative break. Do not create in this time, just store your ideas.
  58. Keep a running to do list so that your mind is not cluttered. A zen mind gets so much more done. I use Todoist, Evernote and a Moleskine but you can use anything. If you think about something, get it out as soon as possible so that you don’t have to think about it and can come back to it later.
  59. Record your creative time and hone it. Just like you would if you were embarking on a new exercising program, keep track in a notebook, or with Lift
  60. Reduce distractions. There are a bunch of great apps that help this, such as Focus@will, StayFocusd, Freedom, SelfControl.
  61. Use non-distracting sounds. Play classical or wordless music, or use Coffitivity as background music. When it’s playing, you know you’re creating. Don’t use it for other things like work or emails
  62. Make use of the Pomodoro technique. This is not only great for getting workish things done. In the same way that the non-distracting sounds work, when that timer is counting down, you know you’re creating.
  63. Use distracting music. Find a great playlist and play songs that encourage and excite you – here’s one I like
  64. Have a “creating encouragement song”. You can pick one of these (my favourite is Jump only because my dad loves Van Halen).
  65. Make a list of things that you have already created. Choose just the things that you are proud of, or choose everything. Create a Flickr account and photograph it all.
  66. Practise meditation.
  67. Maintain inbox zero and have an uncluttered computer. Less distractions.
  68. Make a plan and plan it to the letter before creating.
  69. Be spontaneous and just make.
  70. Remind yourself of this: Everyone, if they’re consistent, will eventually achieve something massive.

I am not an expert on these things, and every day I’m still learning. I just wanted to share what I’ve learned this far with you. I’d love to hear if you have learned anything, and if there’s anything you’d like to add.