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Making time to create

At the blog Abundance, I came across an interesting post on making time to create. Marelisa, the Abundance blogger, includes many good ideas for getting yourself to show up and be effective — although you may find that many of the ideas are not altogether relevant to someone at home with little ones.

Children or no children, the author points out the necessity of prioritizing your creative time — and references that guru of business/life organization, Stephen Covey, with a reminder that we need to spend time on the important things in our lives, not just the most urgent ones. A significant distinction. While taking care of all the things that “need” to be taken care of, it’s easy to lose sight of the creative work that is important to you. This work is important not only because it satisfies you and moves you closer to realizing your creative dreams, but also because spending time being creative has a positive ripple effect in so many other areas of your life.

In helping to increase one’s focus on being creative and making the most of creative opportunities, I was intrigued by the following suggestion:

Establish a Clear Purpose for Every Creativity Session
When you sit down to create make sure that you have a clear sense of what you aim to accomplish during that particular creativity session. For instance, your goal could be to spend forty minutes researching an article on the effects of stress on creativity, to spend fifteen minutes creating an outline, and to spend the remainder of the time allotted to get started writing the article.

I really like this idea, and I don’t think I’ve thought about it quite so concretely before. Sometimes just “spend time writing” is a little too open-ended for me. Sure, it feels good to actually meet that goal and do some writing, but it feels even better if my goal is “finish chapter four” and I actually finish it.

Attaching a specific goal to your anticipated output also helps to raise its importance. It’s not just that you need to spend some time painting this week, you need to finish a sketch for a new still life you’ve had in mind. I think that this level of specificity helps to legitimize your work — which is vital in the battle of finding time for what’s important, not just the things that are urgent.

What do you think? Do you like working for something specific, or do you feel like that squashes your creative spark? When you’re working on a larger project, does it help to break that project into manageable pieces, and then focus consciously on each one?

And while we’re talking about time management for domestic life, here’s a nice refersher course for moms, from Simple Mom, if you need a little mentoring.

[Photo mosaic courtesy Leo Reynolds.]

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cathy #

    iknow iknow. i really should. i have a summer weekday schedule posted on the fridge for S, why not a schedule for me? i think school year will help. i have been contemplating that old writers’ trick of get up before everyone else, at like 5am, for a long time. i do seem to write better early in the am. so far, baby c seems to have a feeding around 6, that if done in bed, she’ll sleep another hour or more. and S is on strict guidelines to stay in bed til 6, even if he’s awake. K sets his alarm at 6 for school, so maybe i should commit to the 5am writing hour. thanks, miranda, and blogs abundance and simple mom. i always seem to need a good kick in the rear.

    August 25, 2008
  2. Hi Miranda: Thank you for the link love. I’m glad that you enjoyed my article :-) I find that establishing a clear purpose for my creativity sessions helps me to better concentrate on what I’m doing, and therefore it makes it easier for me to achieve a “flow” state. If I simply say to myself “write for an hour” my mind has more of a tendency to wander (I guess it’s because in these cases I haven’t giving it something concrete to get it anchored).

    August 25, 2008
  3. i love the notion of a clear purpose for creativity …. today i went to the basement to “paint” … but instead of finishing two paintings that have deadlines, i finished one and then just dawdled …. for no reason …. i bet if i had told myself to finish both pieces, i could have…. would have … should have!

    August 26, 2008
  4. i do agree with the having a purpose part of both these posts, but i more whole heartedly agree with what miranda said right up front: “although you may find that many of the ideas are not altogether relevant to someone at home with little ones.” this is especially difficult when you are working outside the home all day and then come home and want to juggle a little creative time with a little redhead time. it’s nearly impossible for me at times. i can get things done on the weekends with the girls around, but during the week, forget it. i have to wait until they go to bed, and then i’m usually too pooped myself to get anything done. as i mentioned in my comments to kate’s “funk” post, i am a TERRIBLE procrastinator. this really shows up when i have shows approaching. i have the riverside arts festival next weekend and know i need to get some jewelry cranked out, yet here i sit talking to you guys. invariably, i will be up until midnight every night the three days before the show. but back to the whole “having a clear purpose” idea. yes, i do try. am i always successful? only if i have a pending deadline….like a show three days away….. :-)

    August 26, 2008

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