If “Where do I begin?” is your creativity quagmire, start here.
Your time is your life. Give yourself permission to use it the way you really want to. Here are some suggestions for getting a handle on it. Once you get into the habit of setting aside time on a daily basis and get a handle on your physical space, you will know where to begin, I promise. It’s waiting to have a clear idea of what to do before setting aside the time that makes us never actually get to doing anything.
There was a time when we left our phones at home. Attached to the wall. We even went into our bathrooms without them. We didn’t know it, but we were living on the edge.
The best thing to do is put the phone in airplane mode or leave it in another room. Your mind will come up with a million must-do things, including stuff to look up online. Breathe through these urges until they pass. Then:
Set aside 5 minutes.
I like to use a timer. This lets my mind and body relax. I know, I know: your timer is on your phone. If you can’t have it in the same room with you and not check it every 30 seconds, use a different timer. Or just watch the clock. Better yet, forget about time until someone knocks on your door. Then:
Do it every day.
You know that time and place you just carved out? Do it again the next day. But make it longer on day two. See if you can put a fence around 30 minutes for yourself. Play around with the time and place until you hit on something that works. Then:
Do something fun, different and goal-less.
Here’s a list of things you might do during your you-time:
Take out your dusty guitar and play around on it.
Write a journal entry
Listen to music lying on your back
Take a walk with a camera
Go for a bike ride
Savor a tall glass of water or cup of hot tea
Take ten deep breaths
Find wild mint
Forage for berries
Listen for as many different bird calls as you can
Walk without a destination
Sit under a tree
Light a candle
Plan a garden
Reclaim the Rest of Your Time, Too
Now that you have a handle on 30 minutes, take a look at the other 23 1/2. Just for one day, keep track of how you spend your time. If your schedule is different every day, you might opt to do this for a whole week. It’s easiest to do it right in the moment. Just like tracking money, if you leave it to memory you’ll probably forget something. We go unconscious all the time. Keeping track of your time can help you pinpoint the time sucks in your life. You may think it’s the time you spend helping your partner find his keys, but actually it’s your after work shopping stops.
Just write the facts and see what you find out about how you spend your time.
If your inner critic starts piping up with what a lazy, no-good, time-wasting bum you are, laugh. That’s right, laugh! Know why? Because your inner critic’s fly is open and there’s spinach between her front teeth.
What’s your favorite way to zone out?
We tend to do our zone-outs during transition times in the day. It’s late afternoon and almost time to start cooking dinner or wrapping up your shift. It’s 9:30 and you’re good for nothing but not sleepy yet. Whatever it is you do, I’m not going to bother suggesting you stop doing it. I’m going to say this: Could you take one of those and turn it into a mindful, deliberate, intentional time just for you? Because, clearly, you need something during those times.
Before you turn on the device, open the fridge, or get into the car, take five minutes and breathe. Really. Five whole minutes of breathing. For extra credit, drink a tall glass of water. Seriously. Then see where you are. If whatever it is has lost its appeal, then maybe it’s time to do something else. Then:
What else is taking up your mental space?
Besides getting a handle on your time and the things your do to waste it and zone out, it can be illuminating to know that physical things can create mental clutter.
Look around your space right now. Are you surrounded by stuff that makes you feel good? Do you like it? Love it? Do you have a happy living space? Is it too cluttered? Is it easy to get around in? Does it lend itself to the things you like to do the most? Is there a space that’s just yours, that you can do with what you will?
There are no right or wrongs here, but there are right and wrong for you. You may not understand at first why some of the answers to the above questions are what they are. For example, you may have been thinking all along that you like being surrounded by your great Uncle George’s railroad memorabilia. Yet when asked if your living space makes you happy, you wanted to answer no, not really. Good information. You may not have what it takes right now to change it, but it is good to know.
So there you have it. Daily private you-time, conscious use of all your time, and keeping a physical space that’s pleasing and conducive to your flow. All that without addressing the things we traditionally blame for our lack of creativity: other people, circumstances and lack of inspiration.
Try it for a week and let me know what you learned. I’m curious to know how this works for others. I have depended on these three things for years.
Until next week, I hope you’ll check out my new free pdf articles, consider joining my mailing list by using the links to the right, subscribing to this blog via email, also to the right, leaving a comment, and sharing this or other posts that have touched you.