Fitting Creativity into a Busy Life

By Amy K. Nichols

Amy K. Nichols

“When God made time, he made plenty of it.” ~ Irish saying

I’m a writer. I’m mom to two young children and wife to one big kid. I work as a freelance web designer. I dabble in art. I take classes. I go to workshops and conferences.

My friends ask me how I get it all done. Well, I don’t ever get it all done, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an organized person. But  I have learned some things about fitting creativity into a busy life.

1. Pay now, play later

If you want to accomplish your dreams, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. You have to constantly decide between what is important and what is imperative.

Imagine in the middle of your busy day, you suddenly have thirty minutes of free time. No other worries or responsibilities. Do you surf the web? Check email? Chat with a friend? Read? Write? You have to decide what is imperative. If it can wait, let it wait. Spend the thirty minutes taking a step toward your dream.

This means your house won’t be spotless. Your kids’ lunches won’t be perfect. You’ll stay up past your bedtime revising your work. Your friends will wonder why you’ve disappeared. But you’ll be one step closer to your dream. And the more time you put toward your dream, the more time you’re going to find to put toward your dream.

Those who love you will understand. In fact, they’ll encourage you.

2. Feed yourself

Creative in, creative out. If you want to be creative, you’re going to have to feed yourself creativity. In those between moments (driving in the car, surfing the web, reading books, chatting with others) choose to spend time with the people and the things that inspire your creativity. Then when it’s time to be creative, you’ll be overflowing.

3. Don’t tell yourself you don’t have time, if what you really mean is you’re afraid

A lot of people I talk to mention their wish to fulfill their dreams. They want to write books, pursue music, art, lose twenty pounds, run a marathon, etc. And they say, “Someday,” in that forlorn kind of way. And when I encourage them to make the time, they say, “No, no. I just can’t right now. I have (fill in the blank — kids, a job, a dirty house, bills to pay, to diet, to be perfect, etc.).” To which I say, Phooey.

If something is important to you, you make time for it. Even if it’s fifteen minutes a day. Look at your schedule. You’re honestly telling me you don’t veg in front of the computer for fifteen minutes a day? You’re honestly telling me you can’t sacrifice that time doing the thing you love and long to do? Really? I don’t buy it.

You’re afraid. Something’s holding you back. Figure out what it is. Read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, and then get busy on your dream. See numbers 1 and 2 above for further guidelines.

Finally, a quick story.

In high school, I made a list of things I wanted to do before I die. It was one of those whimsical things a self-important 17-year old does. I didn’t think about it for ten years. Then, after almost being crushed to death in a mob, I pulled that list out, added a few more items and started doing them.

That event was a wake-up call for me. I finally understood “there’s no guarantee of tomorrow”.

I know I can’t do all of those things right now. Some will have to wait for a later time. But I’m always working on those things that are most important to me right now. Because there’s no guarantee of tomorrow.

There’s only today. There’s only right now. There’s only me sitting here next to my son, writing as he finishes his lunch. Next it’s time for Play-Doh. Later it will be time for work. Time for writing. And, finally, time for rest. And when my head hits that pillow, I’ll know I made the best use of my time.

Will you?