My friend Karen emailed me last week, after my recent email about aging, and shared how she has a bit more time in her life at nearly 60 than she has in a very long while, and yet she doesn’t actually do the things she loves to do.
Here’s what she said…”I “should” have more time than ever to create. And yet, I don’t create. I clip lots of ideas on IG and Pinterest, even buying supplies and making promises, and then nothing. Did motherhood rob me of my creative muscle? A friend asked what I like to do in my free time, and I thought… sewing, renovating, stitching, stamping, painting, etc… yet I don’t actually DO any of them lately.”
Do you feel this way too? Because I could totally relate.
We had a lovely conversation (I love making friends!) and came up with a few tools to go from wishing to actually doing…and I couldn’t wait to share them with you!
Constraining time to magically grow it
There’s something powerful about the constraints of time and what we can accomplish in that space. When we have all this extra time, we often allow what we are already doing to fill it up, things that might have taken us 45 minutes can easily become 2 hours long. Time is funny that way.
(as in most things, there’s a balance…I tend to err on the side of giving myself too little time to do things and then become stressed with what I’m not getting done and so finding the right place, the place where I have enough time, but not too much is what I strive for)
I once worked for a graphic design company that had this job board and every day the designers (what I did) would come to the board, pick the jobs they would do that day according to how many time slots they had in their day and how long the job was slated for. It was the most efficient and productive job I’ve ever had. And so peaceful and satisfying! Even though it was very creative work, by only allowing, say, 2 hours to get a job done, it had to get done, and crazily enough it did and usually with a lot of satisfaction.
I keep coming back to this idea in my own life…with mixed discipline! I try to create blocks of time that I can create and make things and hold them as appointments with myself…not to be brushed aside by a good Netflix binge. (you should know I am only somewhat good at this! But I work on it)
Maybe setting aside a time during the day or a day of the week to create would give you that container or block of time to commit to…you’d know in advance that it was coming and be able to shift into it?
Objects in motion stay in motion
Changing what we are doing, whatever it is, is so hard to do!
But I find I’m most likely to make space to create if I piggyback it onto some other habit or event…like right after I eat breakfast I begin (no checking the internet first or cleaning the house, etc) or maybe it’s right after lunch or after working out. Connecting that time to something else that is well established in my life and that is an activity in motion. So then I stay in motion!
Ironically I do this with laundry too! When I first become a stay-at-home Mom and working from home business owner, I read the book The Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss (which I adore!) and she mentioned setting up a routine in the morning to get the basics out of the way. So, after waking, washing your face, etc –
start laundry, wipe down the sinks and the counters, and then start breakfast.
By adding these things to other habits, those habits triggered me to do them and I didn’t have to work so hard to get going on them.
Habits are so lovely because they simplify our lives…giving us fewer decisions to make and requiring so much less energy to do. This stuck with me and honestly, it’s the only way I get any house cleaning done at all! Once the morning is over, I’ve truly lost control of any chance I have to get something completed. So I like doing this with creative time too.
Pair your time with something else you love to do
This is one is perhaps more about accomplishing things you struggle to do, like getting exercise in, but is worthy as a tactic to make your creative time even more appealing!
Think of something you LOVE doing, like listening to an audiobook. Then pair your time doing what you need to do with what you want to do. So, like taking a walk and listening to that audiobook. An article I recently read suggested making lists of the things you “need” to do and a list of things you want to do and pairing them when possible.
And then there is this…
These tips are all useful for helping us lead a more authentic and true life…one where we intentionally choose how to spend our time and how we want to invest ourselves.
But, honestly, the most important thing is to remember that sometimes we simply need to just be. Be okay with not doing all the things. Be okay with being at rest. Be okay with our cyclical natures. Sometimes we’re on fire with making and sometimes we’re in a fallow state. Just as it should be.
Use these tools when, after you’ve sat with yourself and listened, you know that you are ready to shift. Not because you “should” shift, but because you want to, because it feels right for you.
How do you find time to create? Let me know!