Tuesday, February 14, 2012

12 Ways to Make Space in Your Busy Daily Life for Art


I have been getting a lot of wonderful feedback on my blog, and I love it!!  Keep your amazing emails coming; I am truly touched by each one of you that takes the time to write to me!  Your emails and comments on my blog are what keeps me coming back here every day and thinking of things to share with you.  You are a huge source of inspiration!

One question that keeps coming up in emails and comments is: How do I make time for art?  I have a full time job, kids, a husband, other hobbies, etc.  

Below are a few ideas I came up with based on what I used to do when I worked a full time job and making room for creative time was a struggle.  They might not all work for you, but pick and choose a few and experiment to see what works best for you.  


Remember: creativity can be anything from writing to drawing to painting to doodling while you’re on the phone. Journal, sketch, play with some clay, write a poem, sing a song, and don’t be afraid to try something new.  Don’t keep all your creativity inside of you!  Here are some ways to help let it out, even on the busiest of days:

1. Stop Keeping Up with the Kardashians.  I know, I know - I have mentioned that I love crappy TV, and I often watch the Kardashians myself, but if you are trying to make room in your life for creativity, perhaps all that time spent in front of the TV should be the first to go. I read somewhere that Americans typically watch 2 hours of TV per night.  What if you spent that time doing something creative instead, even just for one night a week? What if you split that time in half and watched TV for an hour then painted for an hour?  I know it is tiring at the end of a work day, but you will feel so much more energized by expressing yourself rather than by vegging out in front of the TV.  If you really can’t miss your favorite show, maybe you could bring your art to work on in front of the TV and have the best of both worlds? 

2. Stop Keeping Up with the Joneses.  I also noticed a few years ago that I was spending way to much time reading and keeping up with gossip blogs, so I cut that out of my life so I could spend more time making my art.  It’s been about three years since I logged on to one of my favorite gossip bloggers’ site, and you know what?  I don’t even miss it.  Celebrities are just people like me and you, so why spend so much time learning about the details of a stranger’s life?  I’d rather focus that energy on being creative and spending time with the people that I love and know in person.

3. Log off of Facebook for a Night.  Facebook is definitely a lot of fun, but whenever I log on, I often spend way more time on there than I meant to in the first place.  Do you have the same problem too?  I also know that a lot of people tend to compare their lives to the lives of their friends’, which can leave them with feelings of inadequacy.  If you’re one of those people (I used to be.), that means Facebooking might have become a bit of a negative thing in your life.  Why not turn the time usually spent on Facebook into something positive and make art or music instead?

4. Quit Aimlessly Wandering Around on the Internet.  I know that, at the end of the day, it’s easier to hop on the Internet and get sucked in than it would be to take out a piece of paper and draw.  Believe me, I’ve been there.  But when I had a day job, I’d often force myself to close the computer and draw something for just 5 minutes.  If I wasn’t feeling it, I could stop and go back to my Internet wanderings.  But more often than not, I would end up totally feeling it, drawing for an hour or more, and feeling my stressful day just slide away from me through all that meditative drawing time.  Such a great alternative to online shopping…

5. Take Meaningful Showers.  What do I mean by this one? Well, when I had a day job, I’d often do my best creative thinking in the shower.  It seemed like, in my daily life, a shower was as close as I could come to taking time to meditate and be alone with my thoughts.  Even if I didn’t have time to make art on a given day, I’d always take the time to shower, and I’d try to think of creative things while I’d shower: ideas of things to write about, ideas for my next art project, ideas of subject matter to draw, etc.  Value your creative thoughts just as much as if you were to actively spend time creating.  It’s the thoughts that count sometimes, and on a super busy day, sometimes they are all you have.

6. Microwave Your Dinner.  I know microwave dinners are totally gross most of the time, but think of all that time you could save by microwaving your food one night every week.  The average meal takes 45 minutes total to prepare and eat when you are cooking something from scratch.  Why not pick up a microwave meal (test a bunch of different brands until you hit on one you like), cut 30 minutes off of that 45 minute total, and use your extra time to make some art?

7. Bring Your Sketchbook or Notebook to Work.  Do you get breaks at work?  Do you take a lunch?  Well, there you go – perfect time for sketching!  And it’s probably going to turn out to be way more rewarding than a water cooler chat with your co-worker, Alice, who always wants only to talk about what happened on American Idol last night.  Not that there is anything wrong with that or with Alice, but maybe you can skip the water cooler conversations once a week and go outside and draw instead…


8. Make Coffee/Tea Time Synonymous with Creative Time.  While I was working at my old job, before I’d leave the house, I’d always make time to sit for a minute and drink a cup of coffee.  I needed coffee to function (yup, I’m one of those people) before my morning commute, so I’d usually spend at least 10 minutes sitting and drinking it.  I’d usually spend that time sketching in a little book while I sat and drank.  The nice thing about this is, since you are making time for creativity early in the day, you don’t have to spend your whole day worrying how you will fit in some creative time.  You’ve already got some artwork under your belt right off the bat in the morning!

9. Exercise with Heart.  Exercise is something that we usually make time for in our day to day life.  How about downloading some Podcasts that inspire you, whether they be art related or just motivating in general?  You can also use your exercise time as a time to think about your creative plans and what you will do next art-wise.

10. Talk About Creativity.  I love hanging out with friends, and I’m sure you do, too.  Good food, good friends, and a bottle of wine…  Maybe you could try a few of these conversation starters next time you have a get together, and you can gear the conversation into some creative areas that you wouldn’t normally talk about with your buddies.  It may give you some ideas and get you thinking in a way you haven’t before…
            *What do you think the world would be like with no design or art?
            *If you could be an accomplished painter, musician, or writer, which one would you choose to be?
            *What is the best piece of art/song/movie that you’ve seen lately, and why did you love it?
            *What kind of art do you like?  What do you dislike?
            *What do you think is the difference between art and craft?

11. Pencil In Some Creative Time with Yourself.  Grab your planner, and schedule a date with yourself!  This idea was inspired by Julia Cameron’s “artist dates” from The Artist's Way (which I highly recommend if you haven’t read it already).  Just find somewhere open in your schedule and write in “Artist Date, 2 -5 pm.”  Ask your husband to baby sit the kids, and go out to a museum or gallery with your sketchbook.  Sit and draw some of the art you see there for a little while.  (Sculptures are really fun to draw.)  Or just wander around absorbing some inspiration.  If your town doesn’t have any good galleries that you find interesting (as is the case for me where I live), head to a bookstore instead.  Grab all of the art magazines that you find inspiring (My favorites are Hi Fructose and Juxtapoz, and I also love Uppercase and Frankie, but I can’t always find them in stores.) and take notes on what you like in the magazines.  Jot down names to look up later and sketch a few of the ideas that you have as you look at some inspiring work.  Remember: artist dates can take any form you wish.  Maybe you just want to sit in your backyard and read something you find nourishing.  That would be a great artist date!  Even though you scheduled in this special time with yourself, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get a lot done during your Artist Date.  Be gentle with yourself and enjoy your artsy solitude!

12. Make Creativity a Priority. Use these cues about to inspire you and to help you think of other things you can cut out or shorten from your life in order to spend more time being creative, whatever that means to you.


I hope my suggestions helped!  Can you think of more ways to be creative during your busy days?   
Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear what you have to say!

4 comments:

  1. Tessa, this is such a great blog post! I can relate because one of my guilty pleasures used to be watching TV, but not even shows I necessarily liked a ton, but food shows because they are my weakness. Hello Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives lol. For the past few weeks not turning on the TV has really helped me to be more focused on other things.

    I also LOVE #9. I've been trying to gear my focus towards more creative thoughts when at the gym.

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  2. Thank you, Vanessa!! I agree with the TV thing... I am even thinking about getting rid of my cable altogether to save some money and time, lol!

    Yes, I love making gym time more productive creatively. I've also been listening to podcasts while I do the dishes. :)

    Hope you are having a great day!

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  3. you are awesome!!! I am doing a couple of these things already and just making my creative time a priority rather than one more "to do" has definitely been the best way to just HONOR MYSELF!!!! you are a rock star, Tessa! Cheers

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  4. Aw, you are so sweet!! Thank you for your wonderful comment - it made me grin from ear to ear. So happy you are taking the time to honor yourself and your creativity!! :)

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