Dice Your Time to Maximize Creativity

The true commodity for an artist is not the number of pages written or drawings produced, but time. There simply isn’t enough to go around. Rather than look for big chunks of this precious commodity, try to dice your time into smaller, easy to accomplish, bits.

Most artists or writers work a regular job but also try to squeeze in some creative endeavors. If this sounds like you, then forget about a year, months, or even days. Minutes are what you want to consider when budgeting your time. 

Constructing a body of work is about the gradual accumulation of effort over a long period of time. Creating a page of writing doesn’t seem like a lot, but over the span of a year, and you have a novel. 

Have you ever diced an onion? You take that massive vegetable and slice it into tiny bits. You need to do the same for your creative time. Your goal is to figure out your daily chunk of time, 15-20 minutes. And stick with it day in and day out. You have to make sure it gets done because how can you deny yourself such a miniscule bit of time.

If you can squeeze in more, great. But don’t ask for it. Then you set yourself up for that mental barricade of “I don’t have enough time to accomplish all that.” Keeping it small is the key to success. 

Start Early

Do the work you want to do right away. Before you do anything else. Those other important tasks all clamor for attention. You can put them off for at least 15-30 minutes.

If you wait till the end of the day, you may find yourself too worn out. Also, your mind will be saddled with the day’s problems. Do what you want first, while you’re fresh. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Sacrifice

You might have to miss an episode of your favorite TV show. Perhaps even an hour of sleep. You can find the time if you’re willing to give something up.

Set your phone down and silence it (or turn it off). We all turn to that distraction as a simple go-to for entertainment but it is a time suck. Even if you set a time and relinquish your phone for 15 minutes, you’ll be astounded at what you can accomplish. Over several weeks, your brain will be trained to produce something, simply because your time is so limited. 

Transform the Way You Work

You have a vision in your head of how you want to be creating, don’t you? As a writer, perhaps it’s seated at the laptop, the house quiet. A steaming cup of coffee at your side. (Basically every writer in a Stephen King novel).

As an artist, maybe you see yourself bent over a drafting table, a large sheet of paper awaiting your masterpiece.

We have to let these dreams go. Not forever. But if that’s the only way you can create, then you really will have scant time to get things done. 

As a writer, you might use dictation to collect your thoughts while you commute or even walk through a parking lot. Most of the word processing programs have a way to transcribe these dictions (or even take them directly). 

As an artist, think minimally. Can you create a traveling art tote so you can sketch on the go? Even a small notepad and pencil to use on a subway or bus can do the trick. Then, later, when you do have an hour or so on the weekend, you’ll be ready to transform these sketches into something more. 

The time is there. You simply haven’t diced it small enough to fit your schedule. The goal is to create. Give yourself those 15 minutes. And never skimp.

Tim Kane

Monthly Mental Kitchen

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