Help! I’ve Run Out of Time!
When I teach classes on creativity and writing, the number one problem students mention is they don’t have time for the writing, painting, or designing they long to do.
Believe me, I know. I suffered for years from the twin syndromes: “I’m too busy” and “I’m too tired when I get home from work.”
Of course you’re busy. Of course I was tired. Even on vacation, our lives are hectic.
The question to ask is, how can I figure out how to allow myself to invite more happiness into my life?
I say that because people who participate in creative work, paid or unpaid, public or private, are happier, healthier and more satisfied with their lives. This is true regardless of income, education, and socio-economic status.
If you have urge to create something, even if you don’t know what, it makes sense to figure out how to get less busy.
The busyness syndrome is real and it is deadly. Modern society supports it. Busy is good, right? If you’re busily creative, sure. If you’re busy with busywork, not so much. Being overly preoccupied with details is a sure sign that your busyness might not be productive.
The busyness syndrome is manageable if your inner critic is only moderately strong.
Time management tomes advise us to declutter, set goals, re-arrange our schedules, dispose of or delegate less urgent tasks, and set up organizational systems. All are useful and important,
But what if your inner critic is heavily muscled and overbearing? It might not even let you start. It might tell you that other people’s needs are more important than your desire to create.
It might say that you’re bad, wrong, deluded or stupid to consider spending time on what you love.
It might entice you with movies, gaming, shopping, cleaning, television, even volunteering. After all, it’s more important to help others than yourself, right.
If you are blocked and unable to start, move past a certain point in your work, or allow yourself to work regularly, there are things you can do to convince your critic to back down.
- Recognize that the negative messages you are getting are not coming from you, but from the critic. Acknowledge the critic. It is part of your conscious mind. Its goal is to keep you safe, which it interprets as not taking risks.
- Form a clear intention to do your work. Write your intention in present tense and post it where you can see it every day.
- Set specific times to work. Try to choose the same time for every session. At the appointed time, be there. Beforehand, do what you need to do to get ready. Some people light a candle, say a prayer, meditate, close the door, turn off the phone.
- Gather any resources you need and have them at hand. Don’t leave your space to find anything. If the internet tempts you, find a program to block it during your work time.
- Stay in your appointed spot for the designated time. Even if you don’t work, stay there. When the time is up, leave. This will help develop a habit, and you’ll find before long, you’re becoming productive.
- Notice that your intention to do creative work is part of the universal field. You can connect to it any time. Notice that the critic is part of the ego mind. When you connect to the universal intention, it is much easier to say no to the critic.
- Find a way to reward yourself for learning a new habit that will increase your happiness. At minimum, tell yourself “I am creative. I spend time regularly on my creative work.”
- Remember to forgive yourself for any judgements you make against yourself. Forgiveness opens you to the universal intention. If you do it enough, it becomes a habit, and before long, your critic will turn into a positive ally.