#2 Make Space and Time for Your Making, Doing and Creating!
One of the most important aspects of increasing your creativity and productivity in 2017 is allowing more space and more time in your life for your creative pursuits. Just like myself, I am sure you experience those days were the simple act of living takes up all your time. You eat breakfast, go to work (or do your work in the home office) and before you know it, it’s time to make dinner and the light outside is starting to fade. Sure, you got something done, but did you get anything done for yourself? Did you take some time to write a few lines? Did you pick up the paintbrush, the guitar, the loom, the knitting needles? Or, did time simply slip away as it does nearly every day?
Make It Easy: Reducing Friction
I have found over the years that the best way of insuring creativity in your life is to make it as easy as possible — as frictionless as possible — so that you are reminded of your need and desire to create each time you look up — each time you have a moment to think — each time you walk into a room.
One real world example of my own came when I started to learn how to play guitar. Breaking through the initial phase of sore fingers, memorizing chords and learning to strum takes consistent practice — at least once a day. Skip a day and your fingers hurt more, your memory fades and it feels like you are starting over at the beginning.
Keeping the guitar in its case certainly offers more protection and keeps it dust free, but it also adds a layer of friction to your practice. If I wanted to spend a few minutes practicing, I would need to open the case, pull out the strap, tuner, picks etc. It may sound silly, but that tiny amount of friction means that, more often than not, you simply won’t bother. It only takes the smallest amount of work, the smallest excuse, the smallest impediment to push creativity out of your day.
How did I combat this? I made sure to buy a stand for my guitar. That stand then sat within arm’s reach of my office chair. Whenever I turned away from the computer for a moment — even just a few minutes — I could grab the guitar — practice some chords, practice my strumming — and then put it down and go back to work. You might be thinking, “Well, that’s no way to learn a musical instrument! You have to dedicate hours every day to practice, in the right environment, at the right time. Surely playing a few minutes here and there could never work.” Well, I am proof that a few minutes practice, a few times a day, can be just as effective as long sessions. In fact, for me, had I been forced to do my practice in long, intensive sessions, I probably wouldn’t have done it at all. Again, too much friction.
Now, sure, when I was practicing for a performance, I would often spend and hour or more running my songs exactly as I would when performing. This builds comfort with the material and the physical stamina to play a longer set — both of which you’ll need in performance. But, when it comes to basic learning and practice, you often need to fit it in around everything else in your life and simply putting it in your face works wonders.
So, with my example in mind, what can you do to make it easier for you to transition from other activities into your creative activities? Is the piano covered in junk or is it ready to sit down and immediately practice a few bars? Is your loom, spinning wheel, sewing machine, knitting supplies set up in a particular area, close at hand? Is it always ready for you to start creating something? If not, you are sabotaging your own creativity — your own productivity. You are making it difficult to start and enjoy your own creativity.
It may sound difficult, but find a space where you can set up your tools, your easel, your paintbrushes, your writing supplies whatever and leave them there, ready to use at a moment’s notice. Too many of us suffer from “dining room table” syndrome. We have to use an existing family space for our creative pursuits. This means we have to setup and teardown every time we want to do anything. What a perfect way to insure that we don’t create at all.
If you are truly lacking any space, at least combine all your supplies in an easily portable container so that you can grab and go, no matter where you are or where you might be able to work. This is one thing that makes knitting and crocheting such a popular creative outlet. With a little preparation, you can take your creativity wherever you go — keeping the anti-creative friction at a bare minimum and creativity at a maximum.
The easier you make it to create, the more likely you will create. It is a simple formula. Reduce the friction and you will suddenly find time in your day — more time than you might have imagined — to create, make and do in your life!
Next time I’ll talk about how scheduling time for creativity can be another great way to move your projects forward.
Previously on Do It!: