How to Make Time, Even When You’re Busy

Welcome to Good Enough Creative, a podcast for Creative People.

How to Make Time When You’re Really Busy

Hello again, and happy Wednesday (or whatever day you might be listening to this). I’m your host, author and knitwear designer, Marie Greene, and today we’re talking about that elusive subject: time. There’s never enough of it, and somehow we’re meant to fit in all the things we have to do and need to do, and then… if we’re lucky… maybe we’ll have a few hours or minutes for the things we WANT to do.

But like it or not, life will pass a lot faster than we think it will.

So how do we make time for things that feel luxuries when so much else in life feels a lot more important?

I love efficiency. I love books about it. I love planners. I love timers. I love calendars. I love checklists. I love to figure out how to manage my time better, fit more into my schedule and accomplish more in 24 hours than is humanly possible. In fact, I’ve sort of taken pride in this over the years.

But at some point, trying to make it all fit starts to take its toll.

Instead of freeing up my schedule so that I have more time for the things I want to do, I find myself filling every spare minute with … more work. Instead of finally being so efficient that I can give myself the gift of creative time every day, I find that those sessions for unscheduled art or creative brainstorming are fewer and further between than ever before.

So if trying to do more in less time isn’t the answer, what is? How can we make time for the things that really fill us up when there just aren’t enough hours in the day?

I’m glad you asked.

Today I’m sharing 5 changes you can make in your daily routine to MAKE the time for creativity. Because guess what? No one will gift you the time you need – you have to give it to yourself.

  1. I think we have to start by talking about why creativity is important. Our days will be filled with endless tasks – things that just have to be done, and that may or may not be joyful. There’s work. There are chores in our homes. There are responsibilities. And all of those things add up, so it can be hard to make time for something frivolous like art or knitting or flower arranging or whatever it is that makes your heart happy, because it’s not a have-to. No one will care if you don’t make time for art today, but someone will notice if you don’t show up to work. So yes, different aspects of our day carry different weight. But it’s wrong to believe that creativity is frivolous. How else can we show up as our best selves in all the other areas and relationships in our lives if we’re constantly running on empty?

Being everything to everyone else around you is exhausting. If you want to show up for others, you have to show up for yourself. And doing things that fill your own reservoir of joy will make an impact. We need opportunities to express the things that are bouncing around in our heads. We need space to process the things that happen throughout the day. ART GIVES YOU A CHANCE TO DO THAT. It helps you show up as the best, and most complete version of yourself. If you feel frustrated, make art. If you feel hopeless, make art. If you feel burned out, make art. Any time you need some support and you aren’t finding it in other areas of your life, support yourself by making time for creativity. THAT is how you can keep up the good fight. Art isn’t just play time, and if it were – good for you! But really, art is expression. It’s how we process what’s going on. I am convinced that keeping your hands busy is the absolute best way to deal with stress, worry, and frustration. It’s worth a half hour or an hour of your day to get creative, because the other side of that is the better version of yourself for everything and everyone else that comes after.

  • The next change you can make is to say no to something that isn’t a have-to. If you’re anything like me, it’s probably kind of hard to say no to things. In fact, it’s been a lifelong struggle for me – and I end up putting my own goals and priorities on the back burner so that I can make space for all the ways I *should* be doing things for other people. And I am all about acts of service – they’re important. I like to show up for my friends and family when they need me, and I love to be involved in my community. BUT. There is a point where I say yes too often, and I bet you do, too. And when we do, it means saying no to ourselves. I’m not talking about saying no to something important or something that really matters, but I bet there are a lot of things you say YES to that aren’t really a big deal. They could be done by anyone, and they just happened to ask you because they know you’ll say yes. But they ARE time-consuming, and they may just eat away at the one hour you had saved for yourself to work on something creative. Something that fills you up, and puts a spring in your step. When you say no to one thing, you’re saying yes to something else. If you can say no to just one new thing today, you may free-up the space you need to sit down at your laptop and work on your poetry. Setting boundaries is important, and your creativity deserves it.
  • Anything is better than nothing. Now there are some scenarios where this is not true – relationships, for example. The wrong relationship is not better than no relationship. But when we’re talking about creativity, ANY effort is better than no effort. And so often we will put the brakes on our own project because it’s not measuring up. Or because we don’t have enough time, so we feel like there’s no point. It’s not enough time to do what needs to be done, so we’ll hold off until we do have time. Guess what? You will never have more time. You just won’t. I’ve tested this theory, myself, unscientifically, but still – and I have found that the time I think is “out there” waiting for me doesn’t exist. That 20 minutes I have today to sit down and paint watercolor might be the only 20 minutes I’m going to get this whole week. And you know what? 20 minutes is better than zero. If you’re waiting for more time, I hate to break to it to you – it’s not gonna happen. Grab that few minutes and do the thing. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Keep the promises you make to yourself. Now, this one is probably the thing I’m the worst at, so I’m including this as a reminder to myself as much as a reminder to you. If you promise yourself that you’ll spend an hour playing the guitar this week, keep that promise. If you promise yourself that you’re going break out the new clay and play with it, keep that promise. I am someone who is so worried and obsessed about keeping my promises to other people, and yet somehow I am the absolute WORST at keeping promises to myself. Because I know that if I don’t go on a walk today, no one else will know or care. I know that if I don’t get out my watercolors today, no one else will know. No one else will care. And here’s what I have to say about this – to you, and to myself: No one else will make this happen if you don’t. If you want to write a novel, you are going to have to keep the promises to yourself to take time for writing. And there’s just no other option. When we keep the promises we make to ourselves, we get happier. We get to enjoy what it feels like to be “on purpose” – and to show up better for everyone else and for the promises we make to them. Better still, we get to do it with less resentment. There’s nothing worse than always showing up for everyone else and never showing up for yourself. Show – up – for – yourself. You matter. Your joy matters. Your peace matters. Show up for you.
  • Last but not least, put something on the calendar (and – Part B, invite a friend). My Google calendar is my BFF. Not really, but kind of. I tell my team that I live and die by that calendar, and in many ways I kind of do. If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist. So, if I don’t put creative time on my calendar, guess what? Not gonna happen. It just won’t. Look at your calendar, find a spot – and put it on there. I’ve been trying to make time for watercolor for the last few weeks. In fact, I had this great idea that I was going to paint a little something every single day in January. Did I do that? No. But was it on my calendar? Also no.

I recently reconnected with an old friend who is an artist. Like, a trained artist. Someone who has sold her art and had it displayed in public and that kind of thing. We’d lost touch a bit during the pandemic, and when we reconnected I told her, somewhat jokingly, that I had taken up watercolor. We talked about making space for art and how hard it is to make time for it, and how fast the time gets away from us. I suggested we should get together for a painting day (but obviously one where she’s blindfolded and doesn’t look at what I’m doing, because it would be super embarrassing). We both agreed it would be great, but we left our coffee date without putting anything on the calendar. That was about 2 weeks ago and I still haven’t painted a single thing since then. So we were chatting last night and I told her, I’d still like to do a painting day. And she agreed, and guess what we did? WE PUT SOMETHING ON THE CALENDAR. So now I know that on at least this one day, I’m going to get my paints out and embarrass myself in front of a friend. And you know? Who cares? She doesn’t care that I have the painting skills of a kindergartner. Because she’s also struggling to make time, so by bringing in a buddy, we’re creating some accountability and we’re both going to make some art.

Put it on your calendar and invite a friend if that would help.

Hey – guess what? In February (2024) I’m doing a podcast-athon. I’ll be releasing a new episode every single day throughout the month of February. There will be five episodes a week for free, plus two bonus episodes for premium subscribers. Even if you’re hearing this later, those bonus episodes will still be there for you if you want to binge 29 days of Good Enough Creative back to back. I’ll be covering so many inspiring and motivating topics related to living your best creative life. I hope you’ll join me, tell your friends, and if you’d love to have all 29 episodes in February, plus bonus content throughout the year, become a premium subscriber like Lea, Johanna, Dana and Caroline. Thank you so much for your support.

Until next time, my friend – you’ve got this.

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