How to plan your creative time (for busy people!)

There’s no denying that creativity is a vital part of our lives. Whether you draw, paint, sew, sculpt, doodle or compose, finding time to express yourself is fundamental to lives. The arts can even help with your mental health and wellbeing!

Yet creative time can be hard to find in our day to day lives. We’re busier than ever with high-pressure jobs, side hustles and commitments to our family and friends.

But modern life isn’t going to get any easier. The only way to make time for regular creative practice is scheduling it.

When I turned my creative hobby into a side business around my full-time corporate job, I knew I needed to be more organised with my time to ensure I got things done without burning out.

Here’s my framework for finding and scheduling creative time in any day.

emily wassell watercolour artist

Identify your current patterns

Break down your day into 24-hour blocks and fill in what you did yesterday, outlining how each hour was spent. Block out when you were sleeping, working, eating, exercising, watching TV. You can do this for multiple days if your schedule changes regularly.

From here you can first identify time sucks to eliminate – these are things you’re spending time on that don’t serve you. It could be watching repeats on TV for an entire evening or spending an hour mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.

how much water to use dry stroke

Pick your golden hour

Looking through your current time use, where in your schedule do you have an hour free, most days? This should be your golden hour – your time to shine. Block it out for creativity and try and build this into your routine.

It helps if your golden hour follows directly after another habit. For example, if you have free time in the morning, try scheduling creative time for just after you’ve made your first coffee. For me, I have the most time in an evening so I plan to create after I finish eating dinner. It’s much easier to build this into a habit if it follows on from something else.

If your schedule is really packed, aim for a golden half hour! Or golden 10 minutes – whatever works for you.

Start limiting your phone time

Spending hours staring at a phone can eat into all your free time. And really, do you actually enjoy that time? When I looked at my stats, I found myself spending 5 hours a day looking at my phone, nearly 2 hours a day scrolling through Instagram. Imagine what you could create in that time! Remember this mantra – create, don’t consume.

Put timers and alarms on all your favourite apps to tell you when you’ve spent too long on them. You can use apps to shut them off during certain times so you can’t access them. I do this in an evening when I want to paint instead of scroll.

creative practice paint a little every day

Combine your tasks

Identify what tasks you can double up on to make use of dead time like cooking, commuting and watching TV. If you love listening to podcasts, can you put them on in the kitchen? I often paint or draw when the TV is on, so I don’t have to feel like it’s a choice between the two.

Set small goals

Sometimes, creating can be harder when it’s filled with pressure. If you know you’ve only got half an hour, it makes it more difficult to relax, enjoy the process and get into that flow state. It helps to be gentle with yourself and set expectations. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, you’re going to create something today for the process, not the finished product. If it’s rubbish, it doesn’t matter. The act of making it is what counts.

find time to paint every day

Schedule time off too

Nobody can work all day every day. And it wouldn’t help our creativity either – it would lead to exhaustion and burnout. Make sure your schedule includes time each day to do things you love, or to do absolutely nothing.

Block out time to see friends, watch your favourite show guilt-free and take a walk in nature and breathe some fresh air. If you know when your creative time is, you can do the other things without feeling guilty and like you should be doing something else. Take regular breaks and days off to do nothing!

Finding time to be creative is about taking time to look after yourself, so make sure you prioritise it!

Want to build your own creative practice?

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