A while back Samantha Dorn from Aqua Paisley Studio wrote an excellent guest post for the beginning of a new year: 10 Essential Tips to Make Time for Creativity and Achieve your Goals. Her posts are always so thoughtful and inspiring and this one is full of so much helpful advice. (Not to mention inspiring photos of beautiful quilts!) I thought it was definitely worth sharing again.
10 Essential Tips to Make Time for Creativity AND Achieve Your Goals
from Samantha Dorn of Aqua Paisley Studio
It’s the beginning of a new year and it feels like the world is buzzing with goal setting and resolutions. “This year is going to be my year”, I hear people say. “I’m finally going to do that ‘thing’ I’ve always wanted to!!”
Awesome, right?! A new year is full of exciting possibilities. And, it seems to come with a surge of energy and momentum that makes these goals feel within reach.
But a week goes by, and then another, and we begin to realise that our dream of making things happen, isn’t as easy as we’d hoped.
We are unique individuals leading equally unique and busy lives. And, with only 24 hours in a day, most of which we devote to work, sleep and regular commitments; how can we make time for the things we want to do?
The good news is, there are things we can do to reclaim our time, without closing ourselves off from the world or hiring a full-time nanny to look after our children. Here are 10 simple things you can do, to get you closer to your goals this year.
1.Use a planner
If you feel like you are constantly juggling balls and, on the run, with no rest stop in sight, then you need to stop and take account of your time. Using a planner helps you visually see your schedule at a glance. Everyone has the same 168 hours in a week, but we each have very different time slots available to us for creative projects.
Find your personal pockets of time that you can use to work towards your creative goals. Block them out in your planner. If you are serious about making time for your craft, then you will have to be prepared to invest a regular amount of time into building a creative habit
2. Protect your creative time
You would never intentionally miss an appointment with a healthcare professional – would you? Of course not, you respect their time! So, when you set aside time to create, give yourself the same respect and show up.
Be prepared for your ‘appointment’. And, do your best to avoid unnecessary interruptions and distractions. Even small pockets of time are worth protecting, because they ultimately accumulate and have the potential to make a big impact in achieving your goals.
3. Choose projects wisely
In a world where inspiration can at times be all consuming, it is easy to find ourselves in situations where the excitement of other people is contagious.
Before you embark on any project, ask yourself, “Do I really want to spend my creative energy on this project, in this moment?”
It’s an important question, because once the initial enthusiasm wears off – which, let’s be honest, does happen more than we might like; you need to have the intrinsic motivation to push through the resistance barrier and keep working on the project. Choose projects that speak to your heart and your circumstances.
4. Learn to say ‘no’
We live in a society where we are encouraged to say ‘yes’ to new experiences and opportunities. But there is a reason the word ‘no’ exists!
We need to get comfortable with saying ‘no’ at times in order to be the best version of ourselves. Being willing to help and support others is a wonderful human trait, but at times it means we end up trading precious personal time for activities that don’t interest us, or spending our time in ways that either physically or emotionally drain us. So, don’t feel guilty about occasionally saying ‘no’ – remember, if you know a ‘yes’ is going to weigh you down, be honest with yourself, and have the courage to decline the commitment up front.
5. Let it go
Along with choosing projects wisely and learning to say ‘no’, it’s important to give ourselves permission to let things go. If a goal no longer has meaning, there is nothing to say you have to stick with it throughout the year. Change, pivot or let it go – it’s up to you.
The same goes for past projects. If something you were working on in the past no longer sparks any meaningful joy – let it go!
Letting go of the ideas and things that no longer serve our purpose, or make us happy, helps to free up mental or physical space that allows us to explore new possibilities and connect to our authentic creative selves.
6. Know thyself
Don’t compare your creative output to that of anyone else. You are unique and your talent and strengths are yours alone.
It’s important to know your body’s rhythm and energy levels in order to find the best times to create. If you are not a morning person then it might not make sense to schedule a creative session at 5.30am, but giving yourself half an hour each day in the evening might be the answer. Finding your biological creative prime time is essential to finding your creative flow.
7. Disengage from your device
Social media and the Internet are awesome – they help us connect in ways we could never have imagined not all that long ago. But with the amount of inspiration at our fingertips, we can easily find ourselves down a rabbit hole, with no bottom in sight.
Any device in your hands is a distraction – an inspiring distraction, perhaps, but a distraction nonetheless! Decide how long you are willing to allow yourself to be distracted. Remember you are the boss of your device, and set yourself limits.
It’s important to realise that distractions are stopping you from getting important stuff done. A mode of sustained concentration is the only way you will find your natural creative flow.
8. Do something
When you have a choice between doing nothing and doing something, always choose to do something. One small step towards your goals will create momentum that can snowball into many steps. Routines and habits are the building blocks to a creative life. Learn to love the process as much as the outcome and you are on your way to reaching your goals.
My only caveat to this principle is when your energy is extremely low. When this is the case remember it is important to ‘know thyself’ – occasionally the something you should do, is nothing at all ;).
In order to be a creative person, you must decide that is who you are! Stop making excuses. It’s important to believe that the universe is supporting you and wants you to succeed, and then get to work and create!
Believe what you have to contribute to the creative community is worthwhile, and share your work. Believe that you can make your little corner of the world a better place, simply by being you and expressing your joy through the projects you create.
10. Create joy
When it comes to true creativity, joy is not something you chase, but something you unlock deep within your soul. If you are feeling tired or stressed about the prospect of creative work, you may need to reframe the way you are thinking.
The ability to think and act creatively comes down to having good knowledge of yourself and the best working practices for you.
Remind yourself of why you want to create. Ignore all the noise you find in the outside creative world and reconnect with what inspires and motivates you. Knowing your ‘why’ is vital to your own path of creative self-discovery – it’s ultimately what brings you joy and fulfillment.
Wherever you are on your creative journey, and whatever goals you have set yourself this year, I hope you remember, the journey isn’t about perfection.
It’s about progress.
It’s about self-awareness, routines and habits that help us ultimately reach our creative goals. These things may seem boring, perhaps even limiting; but these are the things that will make your creative dreams a reality.
Yes, it will be some work, and will require change – but your life will be enriched, and you will have brought a piece of you and your story into the world – so, I hope you agree…
it will be worth it!
Happy New Year – I wish you all a successful journey on the road to making time for, and achieving your creative goals in 2019!
When Samantha first shared this post, I took her advice and made something just for fun, just for me. I had my eye on her Memory Lane mini quilt for a while now and decided to just go for it! I used some favorite fabrics, including prints from my 3 fabric collections to make this sentimental mini quilt. You can find more of Samantha’s patterns in her Aqua Paisley Studios shop.
It was a great project.
You can see and read all about the Memory Lane Hearts quilt I made here.