One of the most popular excuses I hear to justify not being creative is ‘I don’t have enough time’.
Whether that’s being stuck in a job you hate, never getting around to starting that book, not writing those newsletters or setting up that blog.
You might say, ‘its all right for you Richard. You don’t have a family to look after’, ‘you don’t have ____ or ____’. Fill in your own excuses.
You may well be correct. You certainly are when it comes to not having my own family. But you know what? And let’s be honest here –we’re among friends. There are only twenty-four hours in a day. We ALL have the same amount of time.
If I asked you to find two hours a day, that’s a lot to ask. Not impossible for some, but still a lot of time to find on a regular basis. I know I would struggle with that.
But what if I asked you to find fifteen minutes? Now, I’m pretty convinced everyone can find fifteen minutes, and a lot can be achieved in that time. If you think I’m wrong –as I don’t know your situation, tell me in the comments.
Parents are some of the busiest people I know. I am blessed to have four adorable nieces and I know a little of what it’s like for my sisters and their partners to raise their kids. It’s not easy by any means.
I love reading about parents who have stayed creative during this important life stage by simply not accepting that they don’t have time. This brilliant post by Mark McGuinness says it far better than I could –and with the relevant experience. Look at all the comments from parents too with their solutions to the challenges. Wonderful!
Now like me, you may not be bringing up young kids but still come out with the no-time excuse. But whatever your situation, my challenge for you this month is to find fifteen minutes a day to be creative and work on a personal project you’ve always wanted to.
Don’t worry, I won’t just leave it there. Here’s five tips to help you get stuck in.
1. Break it down
I would normally say just get started straight away, but if its your first time of trying this, I’d suggest spending the first day planning what you will do for the subsequent fifteen minutes every day. This could be breaking down your project into smaller parts to stop yourself feeling overwhelmed.
For example, if you are thinking about leaving your job but you don’t know what it is you want to do, spend fifteen minutes filling in the exercises from books like ‘Screw work let’s play‘ or ‘Making a living without a job‘.
If it’s writing a blog post or starting your novel, just start writing. You can worry about editing later.
2. Change your mind
This could easily go first. So many of our creative blocks are simply in our minds. We tell ourselves ‘I don’t have enough time’, then surprise, surprise, we don’t find any.
A proverb says ‘As a man thinks, so he is’ and I’m sure you can attest to this, that your thinking so often dictates your outcomes.
A quick example. I said for ages that I just did not have enough time to produce a fortnightly podcast. It was a nice idea, but not reality. It takes great commitment to plan, record, edit and release one show –let alone a show every other week. We recently released our 29th Episode of Hatch. That’s over a year of making the time to do this every other week without fail. Once I convinced myself I could do it, I just did. You can too.
3. Regularity is key
When you find those fifteen minutes depends on your schedule. But I’m pretty sure you can. What about getting up fifteen minutes earlier? Or staying up later. What about your lunch break? Take a little less and spend that time getting creative. What about fifteen minutes less on Facebook or Twitter? It just takes some thought to find the best time for you.
When I was writing the first draft of my novella, I set my alarm clock for an hour earlier so I could write for at least thirty minutes every other day. It was not easy. There were often days when I just wanted to stay under the warmth of my duvet. But I managed it and completed the first draft in seven months.
Having the regular time really helped. Knowing that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7am I would be writing, was one of the things that kept me focused to achieve my goal. The other was something we often talk about here at Creatives Hub, that of accountability.
4. Share your pain
Regularly sharing what you’re doing can be an added incentive to follow through with it. If you know, –in the nicest possible way, that someone will ask you how you’re getting on with your project, making you accountable, it can really help in making sure it happens.
As well as sharing your successes you can also share when things didn’t go well. We’re all human. The point is to want to do it, but on the other hand don’t beat yourself up if you miss one day.
5. Remember the bigger vision
If you do something just for the sake of doing it, you will only get so far. If you have a bigger vision or purpose, this can drive you on during those cold dark mornings when you start thinking ‘do I really want to quit my job and do something I’m more passionate about?’, ‘do I really need to get out of bed now?’.
When you can take the focus off yourself and switch it to other people, I find it can totally change your mindset.
At Creatives Hub for example, our mission is to help as many creatives as possible to get rid of the shackles of procrastination, break out of fear, grow in confidence and get stuff done. That’s not about me. It’s about you. And that’s what drives me. It’s seeing so many wonderfully creative and capable people just accepting the status quo – listening to those negative voices, not taking risks, not making the time to be creative –yet being unhappy in their current situation.
I want to do what I can to change that. To help you and others see it is possible to make the time to change. I know. I’ve done it.
Over to you
So back to that challenge. What project will you work on for fifteen minutes a day? I’d also love to know what other tips you can share to help others achieve this.