How do you find time for it all? That is the question I get asked most often when people find out that I teach, blog, and dedicate a lot of my time to volunteer work. The truth is, finding a balance between working a full-time job and pursuing a creative passion can be exhausting. The danger in that is that since our hearts are the center of our desires and motives, when they become tired all the projects in our life suffer too. Usually, that is the point we find ourselves simply living mechanically without the slightest clue how we will get anywhere or even what our direction is. It is almost as if we are facing an insurmountable mountain, blindfolded, and without hiking gear. It’s nearly impossible to achieve any type of success.
In an ideal world, we would be able to expense ourselves through the creative outlets that bring us joy. Unfortunately, that often takes an initial investment of time and effort. Is the answer to simply suppress the creative passion that is calling from within us? Hardly! But since stress can hinder productivity and creativity, I will share with you some tips that have been effective for me during my first year of writing.
How to Keep Your 9 – 5 and Stay Creative:
- Set priorities and then learn to learn to say no. Organizing my time has been one of my biggest hurdles in the past year. Because I work from home, I am able to manipulate my work schedule to a certain degree. Often, I would thrive off bouts of creativity, and then find that my workload had gotten too large to handle. Then, I’d go days without writing, and start feeling empty despite completing my work tasks. The reason I often found myself in this predicament was I’d never say no to anything that came my way. The moment I started being more selective with the tasks I would accept, I also became more productive in other areas of my life. Sometimes, this pre-planned life is difficult for us creative types, but organizing blocks of time for both our jobs and our creative outlets lends itself to more productivity and accountability.
- Forgive yourself. I learned that writing can be a solitary passion. You may find that photography or making music can be too. This may make others in your life resentful at times, especially if they aren’t also being creative. However, you have to learn to be a little selfish with your time. When we give all of us to others, there is a danger of losing ourselves. Recognize that in order to be the person your friends and family love, you need to make time for solitary creativity.
- Schedule time for neither. I went from not planning anything, to planning the moments I would sleep and eat. It seems counter-intuitive to be so meticulous about time, but it is the only way time will work in your favor. Our bodies need rest, even from that creative outlet that brings so much joy. So, schedule time for meditation and relaxation; things that will refresh your mind.
- Shift mental energy though physical breaks. The reason that going from work mode to creative mode feels like a shift is because it literally takes a shift in the side of our brain we are using. With our left brain turned on, so to speak, for eight hours we are able to reason, think logically, analytically. Then, suddenly, we want to tap into our creative, artistic, or musical abilities. While these may come more naturally or easily to us, it still requires our brain to switch dominance. The problem is there isn’t an on-and-off switch for our brains. So, we have to give it a little time to catch up. It can be a conversation, a small dance session in between projects, or just light walk around the office. A quick 5-minute pick-me-up can make the difference between finishing a piece when you are creatively blocked, or not.
- Avoid distractors that take your time. After prioritizing and organizing your time, the last thing you would want to do is squander it on distractors that don’t contribute to either your job or your creativity. After analyzing how much time I spent on social media, texting, and internet browsing, I was appalled to see that about 70% of my time was being consumed by these distractors. I started being smart about these necessary evils. Now, I turn off my phone during scheduled writing blocks, I use time management applications to track the amount of time I spend on certain sites, and I inform my friends and family of “block-out moments” in which I am unavailable. There have been emergencies, and of course those took precedence over all else, but I promise those emergencies did not consume 70% of my time, ever.
Don’t allow stress and fatigue to keep you from following your dream or creative course in life. Sometimes we become afraid of the implications of pursuing our passions. We become afraid of taking time away from family, or of not being able to provide for ourselves. However, if you are able to forgive yourself and trudge past that fear, you will be able to set priorities and take full advantage of the time in between. Achieving a balance and being successful in all areas of your life is possible, without forsaking any of the things that truly nurture your mind, body, and heart.
 Before listing ways to effectively do both, it’s necessary to discuss why it’s important not to forsake either. See, money can be deceiving. We can become tempted to pursue money without realizing that what we really seek is the fulfillment we felt through certain experiences. Needless to say, we can all agree we need to work in order to stay alive; both physically and creatively. The difference between our jobs and our passions, is that our jobs sustain us day-to-day whereas our passions will sustain us indefinitely.