How to Make Time for a Creative Venture
Do you want spend more time creating, but can’t seem to find the time? Maybe you just want a new hobby. Or maybe you actually plan to start a creative business. Either way, I feel your pain. Time is the one thing there never seems to be enough of.
In 2015, I launched On Lane Avenue while working full-time in a corporate office. I knew that I would always regret not starting my own business, but I wasn’t financially ready to leave my corporate job yet. This forced me to get creative on ways to find time in my schedule. When doing it all felt impossible, I would remind myself of this very obvious fact - all humans have the same amount of hours in a day. That applies EVERYONE in the entire world, no exceptions made. If Beyoncé could make it work, so could I.
I tried a lot of different things, but below is a list of the time-saving tactics that had the biggest impact on my life:
1. Cut back on decision making. This is the most important thing you can do. Not only will it create extra time, but you will have more brainpower for creativity. Think about compiling a capsule wardrobe, or literally wear the same thing every day. As far as your beauty routine goes, do as little as you can to feel polished and put together. Simplify your workouts, your morning routine, even how you have your coffee in the morning. Consider where you can cut corners, yet still feel satisfied with your routine. Good enough is usually good enough. I could write an entire post on this topic.
2. Say no to things you don’t want to do. This may seem obvious, but it’s so important. When you aren’t working on your creative venture, how you spend your time should be worth it. Think of everything as a trade-off. Only hang out with people who inspire and support you. Cut out any activities you could do without. If you don't want to cook dinner tonight, don't! Invest in yourself, and pick up Chipotle. It’s okay to slack in some areas. No one is keeping score. If you can swing it, think about hiring a lawn service or a cleaning lady to get some chores off your list.
3. Only shop online. I love to shop. When I started my own business, I tried to only shop for clothes online. I avoided stores because it would suck up so much of my time. As a bonus, it allowed me to save money for my creative venture, because I wasn’t making impulse purchases from the sale racks.
4. Clear the clutter. Stuff takes up space physically and mentally. Stuff also takes up time, especially if you’re always looking for things. That time could be spent growing your business. One of the most helpful tips I’ve found is to keep a donation bin in my mud room. That way, I can constantly set things aside that we no longer want.
5. Rethink your TV habits. I can feel you all cringing at this one. TV is a wonderful thing, right? I’m a big fan too. However, if you aren’t chasing your dreams because you’re spending hours every evening watching TV, there’s a problem. If this is you, try to limit TV to one hour per night during the week. Also, be selective on the type of TV you’re watching. Try to watch shows that inspire you, and fuel your creativity. I love interior design and historical shows, because they give me illustration ideas.
6. Designate Sundays for you. In college, I used to do a ridiculous amount of homework on Sundays. I’m sure you did too. You can accomplish a lot in one day, if you have nothing else going on. Try to save Sundays for working on your creative venture. No one likes to work on the weekends, but pursuing your passion probably won’t feel like work. Communicate to your friends and family that Sundays are off limits. To ensure you honor this commitment, challenge yourself to stay in your pajamas all day. This will keep you from making plans or running errands.
7. Invest in your creativity. Do you have all the tools and equipment you need to be creative? Are your old art supplies slowing down your creative venture? If you can, try to buy anything that will make things go more smoothly. The easier it is to do your creative work, the more likely you are to stick with it. Making these purchases isn’t selfish, it’s making yourself a priority. I can’t think of a better way to spend money.
8. Make social media work for you. Most of us spend hours per day on social media. The majority of that time is spent browsing content, instead of posting content. Challenge yourself to become a content poster, instead of a browser. Think of a way to share your creative venture online daily, and then log off until the next day. This will hold you accountable to pursuing your passion, while also saving yourself time consuming content. When I first started my business, I committed to posting one illustration per day on Instagram. It was the best thing it ever did, because it forced me to create daily. The final advice I have on this is to choose just one platform that works for you, and avoid the others. If you are an artist, use Instagram. If you are a writer, use Twitter. There’s no reason you need to be active on all platforms.
Here are some other small ways I was able to save time in my schedule:
· I listened to podcasts while walking my dog or running. It allowed me to do multiple activities I enjoyed at once. Also, I typically listened to creative or business podcasts, which had the bonus benefit of inspiring me to get to work.
· I used my lunch break at my corporate job for creative work. I would often go to a coffee shop with my notebook and computer.
· I kept a running to-do list, so I could efficiently cross things off without taking up space in my brain.
· I switched to quick and easy breakfasts - instant oatmeal, dry cereal, and pre-cut fruit were my go-to’s. I also loved pre-packaged iced coffee.
· I used the same water bottle all day to save time on dishes. I also used paper plates for breakfast and lunch (don’t hate me for my wastefulness).
· I did laundry once a week, so clothes wouldn’t pile up.
· I utilized rapid pick-up at restaurants to save time waiting in line. Take-out was our best friend.
· I started keeping my cell phone in our bedroom after work, so I wouldn’t be distracted by calls or text messages.
No matter what your current situation is, I hope these tips inspire you to pursue your creative passion. There’s nothing more important than making time for your dreams. In five years, you won’t remember all the times you said no, or all the tv shows you watched, or all the ways you fell short at mealtimes. You will remember that you still haven’t made time to do that thing you love.
At the heart of these tips is the simple act of giving yourself permission. Once you’ve given yourself permission (and I mean REALLY given yourself permission), it will start to feel like your schedule is working for you, instead of against you.