In our blog post from last week Is Creativity Really a Priority for You? we discovered if right now is a good time for your to make some room for creativity in your life. If you are wondering, I highly suggest you go back to that blog post and read it.
Here I am going to give you some tips and suggestions for actually finding the time to be creative. Before I get into the steps I want to talk about something funny that's been happening lately. Everywhere I turn, everything I read, every podcast I listen to in the past week or so has basically been repeating exactly what I am trying to convey with my blog. I'm getting all these little golden nuggets and "Yes, yes, yes!" moments and it's like the universe is conspiring to support me on this mission. Marie Forleo, the famous online entrepreneur and creator of B School, said on Amy Porterfield's podcast, Episode #96, that we must create before we consume. I say "create more, consume less" and creating before we consume helps us to do that. Why? Well, I could tell you but Tara Swiger over at Explore Your Enthusiasm Podcast, Episode "Inspiration Isn't Enough" explains it so much better than I ever could. Definitely listen to this episode. I basically wrote the whole thing out word for word because it's a gold mine.
To briefly summarize the Tara Swiger episode for you (and I may do a whole blog in response to this episode because it was just SO GOOD!), she said that getting inspiration is consuming and it isn't enough or even good for us in large quantities unless we balance it out with action, aka: creating. Because if you consume all this inspiration and don't take action you lose momentum and also let in a lot of room for self doubt, jealousy, comparison, and a bunch of yucky feelings that totally kill your ability to take action. I don't know about you guys but I have so, so been there. So to Marie Forleo's point, create before you consume because action is much healthier and more productive for us than consuming and will set us up to be in a mindframe to consume less. Basically what I've been saying all along.
My first two tips directly relate to last week's blog exercise:
Tip 1: Re-prioritize
If you did the exercise in last week's blog and feel like you have no time for creativity, assess your schedule and see if you are putting in extraneous responsibilities that have to do with those categories you already rock in, maybe replace the time it takes to do those with some creative activities. For example, you are a rock star right now in your career and you go weekly to this networking group because you feel like you should even though you don't feel you get much out of it. Replace the networking group and do something creative in that time. Even if you did not do last week's exercise you can do this. Look at your schedule and see if there is anything that is not serving you right now with your current goals or priorities. Is there something that has been on there forever that is never completed? Is it really something you need to do or has it become obsolete? Get rid of them so you can make more room in your life for the things that really bring you joy.
Tip 2: Kill Two Birds with One Stone
The exercise last week showed us multiple categories of importance in our lives. Even without the exercise you know of many different categories that are important; family, finances, health and wellness. Even if you rock in some of these categories already, just think of all the ways you can incorporate two or more of these categories while doing something creative. If you feel you need to spend more time with friends, do a weekly craft night where you invite all your friends. Or do the same with your family. If you have kids you don't have to work on the same kid crafts as them, everyone can sit together and work on all their own creative endeavors together, with some cookies and hot chocolate for even more fun. Also think how creating certain things may be good for your finances. For example, I make all our own household cleaning products, bathroom products, and beauty products like deoderant, laundry detergent, and dish soap. It ultimately saves money. Last, remember what I said last week about how being creative can help support the categories of mental well being, hobbies/joy/restoration, spirituality, and personal development all at once.
Tip 3: Do Pomodoros
If you are one of those people who has a hard time just starting even when you have set aside the time for being creative, try to do some Pomodoros. This was a technique created by some Italian guy (you can get a less vague description by googling it) who found that we work best in 20 minute sprints. I've heard many a business coach suggest Pomodoros for your work. The concept is that you set a timer for 20 minutes and give all your focus and energy to the task at hand and when the timer goes off, you give yourself a 5 minute break. Then I think you are supposed to start on something new but you can always go back to the same task. Also you can change the time. You can work for 40 minutes and give yourself a 20 minute break. What I find when doing Pomodoros is that once I start on the activity I just keep going because I'm in the flow. Most activities take more than 20 minutes but getting over the hurdle of starting by convincing myself that I'm just doing it for 20 minutes is enough to create the momentum I need. Once in the flow I usually don't want to stop as taking action feels so good. But if you do feel like stopping for the break, do it.
Tip 4: Replace consuming with creating or as Marie Forleo says, "Create before you consume"
Your calendar is jam packed yet some how you still have time to spend countless hours on Facebook, Instagram, and watching tv. There are many in depth ways to try to analyze your wasted hours on these things. A simple one is to journal it for a week and see when and where your time is being wasted. I think there are also some apps out there that can do the same. See this article. This is great for being aware of your time so you can consciously encourage yourself to be creative in those moments instead. You can also make a list of creative things you can do to replace the urge to consume. So when you feel that urge to go check Facebook, look at your list and do the creative activity instead. And since the mantra is "Create before you consume", once you create you can reward yourself with a
little consuming of Facebook when you are done, if you want. You may find the urge is gone. Also, there are some great apps out there if you don't trust yourself to be self-disciplined enough to stay off certain webites. I know there is one that you tell it how much time you want Facebook to not be available to you, in fact it's called Self Control. And you can always delete your Instagram app for just a day so you aren't tempted. I've done that numerous times.
Tip 5: Do your own Creative Retreat (aka: Consumer Break)
Set a specific amount of time, like a weekend or a full week to do your own creative retreat. This can be as structured as you want it to be. It can be as simple as carving out time for a handful of creative projects you want to try or work on. It can be as complex as setting a schedule of activities and workshops for yourself and booking yourself into a hotel, alone. EIther way, the point is you are going to focus your time during this period solely on creating. It is also know as a consumer break because in order for it to work really well you need to turn off all consumer activities. All the social media, all the urges to go shopping, all the ways you might consume inspiration. Get the inspiration ahead of time and then focus your entire time on taking action, playing, creating. And if this sounds good to you, stay tuned in March as I will be hosting a virtual creative retreat/consumer break via Instagram that I would love for you all to take part in. I know having it on Instagram sounds counter to what I'm saying but it will involve signing off of Instagram for a certain amount of time and then logging back in and showing everything you were able to create in the time off.
So these are just 5 of many ways to fit creativity into your life. I hope they were helpful. Let me know if you tried any of them and if they worked for you. And feel free to share what tips you have that work for you.