Time is one of the most important things we have, yet we don’t always give it the acknowledgment it deserves. I am not a productivity guru neither aspire to be one, even though I must admit that ever since I decided to take care of my time in a more mindful way, things have given a 180º turn. Organizing my time better gave me the chance to embrace my Creative Time in a different way.
Last year around September, I discovered this quote:
“How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives”
Reading that made me feel like a complete idiot, not because I needed a few minutes to let it sink in but all in all, I reconsidered how I had been spending my last couple of days before my holidays in Denmark: on the edge of the burnout, working 10 hours a day as a freelance illustrator & designer, on projects I didn’t really felt mine or that added value to my life and spending little to no time sharing nice summer evenings with friends. Is this how I want to say I spent my life?
So I stopped and stared. What do I need to change to feel good about how I’m spending my days? Closed commissions, finished projects and took three weeks off for the first time in 3 years. I came back recharged and got myself a part-time job at a little café, 5 minutes away from my place, continued with my german lessons, every morning I’d go to the gym and all of a sudden, I felt again that eagerness to create. It was like a switch I could turn on but not off.
What happened for me is that I, without noticing, started to prioritize. I came to the conclusion that in order to not put pressure on my creativity to pay the bills, I had to get a job, which would actually not only help me to spare a couple of euros but also leave the house and practice my german with real people, in the real world. My german lessons were not something negotiable, therefore mornings were exclusive for five hours of intensive german learning, four days a week.
This whole system would work perfectly to nurture my creativity. During my studying hours, I’d try to be as awake as possible to follow the class; during my working hours, I’d do my best and even enjoy serving some cappuccinos and talking to people. But the best of everything was the part of me developing ideas constantly just by being abstracted from the pressure of creating. I was excited to get home and get all those ideas on paper, to see where I’d start. Everyday became a new challenge to find ideas around me and catch them.
Looks like magic, works like science.
Here’s how I organize my time to be more creative.
–Prioritize. I firmly recommend you to sit down, take a piece of paper and write what are all the activities that fill your day, afterwards write on another piece of paper all the activities you want to fit in your day. Highlight in both papers the ones that take the most time (e.g. work, family) and the ones that appeal to you the most right now (reading, learning a language). Now your priorities are sorted.
|Activities that fill my day
|Activities I want to incorporate in my day
|Writing a book
–Adjust times. If you translate your lists on the calendar, how can you find the time and space to include the activities you would like to add to your day? Start small and choose a day of the week or the weekend, then take a week, then a month. This is completely personal and requires us to shift our mentality and cut out with some old habits or activities that were not in any of our lists.
Work from 8-17.
1 hour commute*
1.30 grocery shopping**
*I could start brainstorming ideas for my book on the bus.
**Maybe get some things at the grocery store to start gardening on the weekend.
***Instead of another episode of YOU I could do some yoga or read.
I am a firm believer, and there are studies that prove it, that writing things by hand and on paper, it’s going to help you have a clearer view and a higher sense of control on what you want to achieve.
–Allow “Boredom” to happen. You might be thinking that I have every minute of my day planned like this guy, but you’re wrong. I write down in my calendar some things I have to do during the day, but most of my free time is actually, well, free. It’s my nothing time: I can enjoy it doing nothing (that rarely happens though), watching Netflix or being bored. I give myself time to allow boredom to pay me a visit. When we are bored, we automatically enter a state of daydreaming and start looking or inventing things to play with, according to this study. So schedule your boredom time on your calendar!
–Creativity is not only painting. Remember, you don’t need to make time to paint a picture to call it creativity (even though it is), you can have time for your everyday life and still make time for your creative endeavors, be it anything that makes you express yourself or motivates you to make something new. Any activity can be creative if you look at it with the right eyes.
Instead of thinking about managing your time productively, I encourage you to shift your view to something creative. Managing your time creatively is not only more fun but it also takes the pressure of “having to” do something to replace it for the excitement of “wanting to” do something.
Do you manage your time creatively? Have you tried any of these methods or have you got one of your own?