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How to Stay Creative When You're "Too Busy"

Work to live, don't live to work.

By Amyleigh CraigPublished 6 years ago 7 min read

I catch myself constantly saying I'm "so busy" when in reality I actually have plenty of free time, I just plan and utilise it badly. This is something I've been working on and one of the things I've been making a major conscious effort to make time for is creative outlets. Growing up I was 100 percent "that kid" who was constantly drawing, rubbing crayons over textures in the garden, or even making little movies with my camcorder and Disney Princess dolls in my bedroom. I was always bursting with creative energy but unfortunately, fast forward to adulthood when the peppering of responsibilities starts to flow thick and fast and surprise surprise, that creative bright burning flame became subdued and almost burned out time and time again.

Now that I've settled into a job that gives me more freedom with my personal life, I've been trying to ignite that creative passion again and feed the low-light ember so that it starts to burn bright once more. It's tough to have hobbies that can become time consuming as an adult as you cannot prioritise them no matter how many positivity promoters say you need to focus on what you enjoy. Sometimes it's just not plausible and your passions have to take a backseat to make way for the things that pay the bills and help you sleep at night. I used to think that there was no balance between exploring creativity and living care-freely and also being sensible and work-focused but actually? You can totally strike a balance and there's always enough time to do something a little creative, you just need to know where to look for that hidden 15 minutes of opportunity.

Use a bullet journal.

Okay okay so, when bullet journals first swept in like a crazed frenzy, I just didn't see the point. To me, it was an excuse to make pretty lists but that was it—you were making pretty daily lists that you would use for a single day then never use again so why go to that effort? I recently started one and boy oh boy was I wrong. Having a bullet journal means that even if I am super busy or if I'm super tired it doesn't matter—I can still be creative for a few minutes every evening as I track changes and things that I'm doing. Everyone creates a trial and error style that will adapt to their needs when it comes to bujos, but I'm really liking the journey so far. It gives me the opportunity to make daily lists (which I sadly love), do little daily doodles to keep my artistic juices flowing, and helps me get more organised so I can actually dedicate more time to being creative. If you haven't bought into the hype yet, I can honestly say it's worth it and I am a big ol' bujo convert.

Sketch once a day, no matter how minute.

I know not everyone enjoys drawing or thinks they're good at it, but if it is something you quite like doing, try to draw every single day to keep up momentum and that passion alive. I'm my own worst critic and constantly criticise my artistic abilities, but I do love to draw and paint so even doodling for a minute on my commute to work or in my bullet journal each day helps me feel like I'm practicing and nurturing a talent that needs a little TLC now and again.

Keep written notes on your phone.

If art is definitely not your thing but you have a penchant for words then write! I once started writing a fantasy fiction novel and tossed it by the wayside because I thought it was no good, but recently I've picked up the writing bug again but in the form of poetry. Poetry that has no rhyme but a whole lot of reason has become incredibly popular over the last couple of years and I'm all for it. I'm hoping to one day feel brave enough and confident enough with some of my poems to get up on a stage and read them out at some open mic night or slam poetry show, but for now I'm content that I'm just collecting my thoughts somewhere. Although I tend to like doing physical tangible copies of creative things, my poetry is all in the notes section of my phone. Most of my urge to write poetry comes at the least convenient times to rummage around for pen and paper, so I collate my thoughts in the notes on my phone on the go. I'm now transferring some of them to my bullet journal for extra safe keeping, but never see your phone as a distraction as it can actually be a very handy creative tool.

Set aside time to nurture your creative spark.

Obviously this will depend on what creative outlet you're enjoying or practicing, but making a conscious effort to dedicate time to it is key to not fall into the "I'm just too busy" trap. I now write in my bullet journal that I need to practice ukulele on a daily basis so I can hold myself accountable when I don't live up to my own expectations. Having a visual cue that details how often I practice has spurred me on to make sure I practice often so I don't look like a failure to myself. I've bullied myself into making time for it essentially but it's certainly worked. Even if it's just a spare 15 minutes whilst I wait for dinner to cook or those ten minutes I've got running spare in the morning rush to get ready because I got ready just that little bit quicker, spending them wisely really helps you feel accomplished.

Use your lunch break effectively.

This again is dependent on the individual and the creative process/outlet you're part of, but if you can use your lunch break at work to nurture your talent and hobbies further then that's a quick and easy fix. If you are a busy bee, sometimes your lunch break is the only opportunity you get to just take stock for five minutes and relax. If you can squeeze creativity into that time and it won't feel like a chore, I couldn't recommend it enough as I've found it can also boost my mood for the rest of my shift.

Make mundane activities more enjoyable and creative.

This isn't necessarily a creative outlet like others I've suggested, but let your creativity overflow into aspects of your life so you don't feel like it's a chore. If you usually find cooking boring or just a necessity, spice it up by trying a new (out there) recipe and see how that goes down. During your commute to work or walk/drive to do the grocery shopping, see if there's places you can stop and snap some photographs to use any which way later in life. Having a bullet journal helped make list making and organisation more interesting and creative for me, but there's many other ways you can make things more enjoyable in your day to day life. If you're planning to redecorate, why not try DIY with some furniture instead of buying it all ready done for you? Put your stamp on things. If you're staring blankly at your wardrobe in prep for getting ready for work, try a new outfit combo out of your comfort zone and play dress up to see if that sparks some inspiration. The possibilities are all there, you just have to grab at them!

Sometimes we all get stuck in a rut with ourselves and our actions and it's easy to slip into an auto-pilot lifestyle, particularly the older you get once you settle into a home, job, relationship etc. It's easy to slip into this but it's also just as simple to step a foot out of line and switch it all up too. We all have become so focused on success, making ends meet, and just generally looking after ourselves financially, but often that is not what feeds the hunger of creativity for us and makes us feel whole. If you're still feeling unmotivated to nurture that little inner creative you're housing in your soul, here's a few more things you could try to see if they stimulate you further:

  • Keep a diary. They're not just for emotional-rollercoaster teens!
  • Vegging out in front of the TV is fine, but stimulate the mind! Watch a documentary on a creative outlet that interests you or watch something about a topic you don't know a lot about. Education and feeding a thirst for knowledge can work wonders.
  • Try gardening.
  • Download apps that could make you feel creative. I like using photo editing apps for Instagram as much as the next person, but I also like listening to podcasts and Audible when I need an injection of inspiration, and less obvious apps such as Mushroom Book when I want to heighten my knowledge and look at lovely nature artwork.
  • Experiment with your wardrobe.
  • Join a new class at the gym.
  • Head to an evening class at your local college or school.
  • Try knitting or sewing.
  • Scrolling doesn't need to be seen as a negative thing. YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram can all be very influential for creativity.
  • If you're a blogger then honey, you're already doing great. Blogging is incredibly creative in many different ways.

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About the Creator

Amyleigh Craig

A pint-sized northerner living down south with a background in Archaeology. Enjoys writing about sustainable living, books & comics, gaming, astrology, simple self-care, nature, travel, & music.

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