Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time Management for Creative Types

       First I think I must note three things: 1. This post is going to be LONG (you've been warned) 2. It also may contain a list of very mundane and sometimes dangerous things in my every day life (again with the warning) 3. I will reward your reading of this epic post with a variety of pretty photos :) Now, let's proceed.

      At least once a week someone says something like this to me, "Cool paintings. It must be nice to have so much free time." Or this, "If I just had the time I could paint too, but I'm soooo busy."

      Typically I think I'm pretty tolerant of people, but when I hear comments like this I get a little irritated. Because (prepare yourself for a shocking revelation about me) I don't have much free time. Can you relate? I thought so.

       My life is busy. I have a husband and three small kids, a house, a yard, and two dogs.

     There's volunteer work for church, volunteer work at my kids school, laundry, soccer games, homework, cub scouts, play groups, dishes, making dinner, grocery shopping, finding lost toys, swimming lessons, yard work, laundry, giving the dogs a bath, mopping the floor, kissing ow-ies, reading stories, changing diapers, getting play doh out of the carpet and marker off the walls, laundry, camping trips, in laws, scrubbing toilets, making snacks, teaching Sunday school, giving hugs, always cleaning something but never actually feeling like the house is clean, playing board games, playing tag, playing secret agents, laundry, tying shoes, teaching the alphabet, helping my kids get along, cleaning up after the dogs, watching my two year old like a hawk to keep him safe, cleaning up after the two year old, making cookies, defusing temper tantrums, laundry. . . You get the idea.

     I need a nap.

     *insert first pretty photo here*

     I've worked full time in the past, and I've gone to college while working and I've never once felt such a demand on my time as when I became a mother. But I wouldn't change where I am in my life for anything, my husband and kids are my life. And so, I gladly accept the fact that I will never have enough time to do all the things that I want to do. I live a busy life, but it's a very full and happy one.

       Now with that being said, I must also say this: There is always time. You just need to know how to find it.

       But, you say, there is no time. I'm afraid, my friends, that I must disagree. If you want to do something badly enough you make the time. But how do you find it?

      First I think you need to know where your priorities are. For me it's family and church and then art and writing. Second you need to make a schedule.

      You know how people say that if you want to start a budget you begin with keeping track of how you're spending your money? I think that it's a great idea to do the same thing with your time. Start out by writing down everything you have to do in a day, like go to work, or make dinner, then look at whatever time you have left over and figure out what you're doing then.

      Be honest with yourself. No one likes to realize that they're wasting time, but until you know how you're really spending your time, you can't do anything to change it. I'm betting that somewhere in your day you can get rid of something that's sucking your time away.

      Okay, so you've made a schedule and you've figured out where your time is going. What next? You have to decide if you would rather pursue your dreams in that little chunk of time you found or keep doing what you've been doing (like watching TV, or polishing every surface in your kitchen before you go to bed).

      You'll probably have to give something up. But as long as it's not your family time, then I think you should go for it. Because really, will it matter to you, five years from now, that you watched the latest CSI? That you held the record for cleanest microwave in the neighborhood? Um, no, it won't. What will matter to you is that you spent that time doing what you loved and making your dream a reality.

      Maybe you could wake up a little earlier or stay up later, maybe you bring a sketchbook with you to work and use it on your lunch break, maybe you keep a notebook in the car so you can write down your ideas, or make a quick sketch when you're waiting to pick your kids up from school, maybe you keep a painting out where you can sneak a few minutes here and there to work on it when your kids are occupied for a little while without you, maybe you have a friend who lives close by that you could swap babysitting with once a week. You watch her kids for an hour or two while she does whatever, and she watches yours for an hour or two so you can paint.

     Or maybe you just pencil the time in on your calendar and do it. I've done all of those things before and I know that when you use the little bit of time that you have, it's easier to see where you can find a little bit more.

*brief intermission for another pretty photo*

      It's like exercise, when you first start out, you hate it. But if you give it ten minutes or so, you're so glad you started and you don't want to quit. It's all about momentum. That's why I think it's so important to keep painting even when you don't feel like it, you've got to keep that momentum going. You know, the more you sit around, the more that you want to just sit around. The more that you paint, the more you want to, and the more you let yourself make time for it.

       I know it's hard. Trust me, I know. But you won't be sorry that you did it.

      Now, there's one last thing before I go.

      Let the people in your life, who love you, know how important this is to you. Let them know that you'd like their help and support. They probably already know this and are very supportive of you and your dreams. But maybe they don't, so let them know. When you love someone don't you want to help them do what they want to do more than anything? That's how they feel about you too.

      I wouldn't be painting or writing if it weren't for my husband. He knew from the very beginning (probably even before I did) how important this is to me, and he actively looks for ways to help me with my dreams. I couldn't do any of it without him.

      His words of encouragement and praise mean more to me than anyone else's ever could. He believes in me, he loves me and he wants me to be happy, and he knows that painting and writing make me happy. I still wonder sometimes how I got so lucky to have him, but I'm amazingly glad that I do.

my family, photo by Jenny Maritnez photography

     I'm sure you have someone in your life that feels the same way about you. Let them know how you feel, they'll help you, I'm sure of it.

      Questions? Comments? Suggestions? I'm all ears :)



  1. Love your post, it is so true that we can make time if we really want to. I have started making lists of things I need to get done each day and crossing them out/prioritizing what really needs to get done...that has really helped me "waste" less time throughout the day and be able to fit everything in that not only needs to get done, but also that I want to get done. Love the pretty pictures too!

  2. Beautiful post, Crystal. I mostly follow L. Ron Hubbard's model of efficiency which is when you see something that needs tending to....just do it, don't put it off until later because that's wasting time looking at it twice. He states this is how he "buys loafing time." This is how I buy "time for art." I also have a unique set up with my husband Mike. He left work as a bus driver because of carpal tunnel but we decided against surgery thinking he would be ok after a couple of years and could return to work. Well, that didn't happen. He could never find a job so we kept going along the way we are. We've managed to live nicely on one income and don't lack for anything. I work (a registered nurse) three 12 hr. night shifts per week and he takes care of the home. I earn a wonderful living and love what I do as a Hospice RN. Yes, working nights helps with buying me time to paint too. Mike manages our home beautifully and I help with the laundry, cooking, cleaning (mostly my studio or the bathroom) when I feel like it. I always try to do something so he doesn't feel like it's all on his shoulders and I always praise him and thank him for everything he does. Hugs go a long way, ladies! God has blessed us abundantly with a deep love and respect for each other like none other I've ever known. If you'd like to meet Mike you can stop by my other blog "Carmichael Chronicles" and look for my post "Plain Brown Wrappers" dedicated to him.

  3. Crystal,...I love your post as well...Each time you post, there are good tips within it always...About time, I would be luck to have a father who is punctual and do whatever according to scheduled time all along...I give him credit about this thing because he instructed me and my sisters and brothers...In that time, I was bored about whatever he instructed me but for now, I have to thank to him, my dad...
    I have no problem about time, I can manage it...but but sometimes when my customers want to get her dresses ahead of time; my schedule seems jumble all the day:(

  4. You're paintings are great, if I just had as much time as you I could paint more too. He He He, just kidding!!!

    I love your post this week. I too am blessed with a wonderful husband, who is very helpful and knows how to push my buttons, um, I mean push me in the right direction so that I can realize my fullest potential. I'm a night owl and that is when I am most productive. I've faced some people that don't think you can be productive if you aren't an early bird. That is my pet peeve, everyone is different and you have to do what works for you. I totally agree that you have to decide you are going to do it and be committed. It's amazing what you can get done in a day!! Thanks for sharing your post, wonderful to read as always:)

  5. Wonderful post! And I relate! When I was younger I worked full time, was a wife and mother, kept the house together, and was working on a master's degree - all at the same time - and had to do paintings along the way as part of the university program, plus the occasional commission. Now that I am a lot older I do have more free time - in a way - but I am remarried and we have a very large property to take care of and four dogs, so endless (did I say ENDLESS?) housecleaning!! I cook more from scratch as we are vegetarian and try to eat only organic stuff...take part in community stuff and have a grandson. There is NEVER enough time, but you are right, you make the time if you really want to!

  6. I'm so glad to read your post Crystal. What great tips you have shared! Part of my problem lies with the fact that my little hut where I do most of my art is right the way down the bottom of the garden, so I can feel a little isolated and as though I have deserted everyone. As well as some of your other suggestions, maybe I should bring some of my things up to the house so I get more opportunity to grab what ever momnents I can too. By the way, thank you so much for your lovely e-mail. You really made my day :0D

  7. WOW.
    Very true and serves as a reminder for all of us. And the thing about momentum is so true. The example of exercise is so fitting. As you truly said if something is of priority to you then you'll take time out for it.

    Your family picture looks great.


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment they really do mean so much to me! Because not all bloggers have their email enabled so I can reply directly through email I will try to reply here in the comments. If I don't please forgive me, life must have been hectic that day! :)) Huzzah!!

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