Last month on Instagram I asked “How can I help you this year?” and some of you responded that you needed help finding time to create more.
When my kids were younger, I tended to work on creative projects at night, after they were fed and bathed and in bed - it’s where the name Midnight Creative came from - I could only make the time to make in the midnight hours. My husband would tell me I needed to sleep more, but having this time to create and express myself was more important to me at the time.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to stay up late. My point is that the hours in the day are finite. You can’t make more.
I’m also not going to tell you that you need to prioritize yourself more (even though you do). And I’m certainly not going to talk about “self-care” (also valuable). Because I know you know that you should do those things, and it’s not helpful listening to things people tell you to “just” do.
What I am going to share today are three tips that will help you get a bit more organized and approach time differently, in hopes of helping you make the most of those little windows of time, those between hours, so when you have a moment to create you can dive right in.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I am a voracious reader, and I’m often asked, “But how do you find the time?”
What avid readers will tell you is it’s not about sitting down for long stretches and reading. If you’re a big reader, you likely read in the between times - waiting at the bus stop, the 10 minutes before the game starts, on your coffee break, during commercials, while cooking.
You get the idea.
I know you’re thinking, “Commercials? You watch live television?” No, I know you’re thinking, Katie, we’re talking about paints, we’re talking about rug making, we’re talking about sewing or something that isn’t always easily portable.
But the point I’m slowly getting to is, instead of thinking you need to carve out a whole hour, or a whole Saturday morning to work on your projects this year, what if you thought smaller.
What if you thought about creating for 15-20 minutes every morning, or during your lunch hour if you work from home. Because I think you can block out some smaller amounts of time. Maybe even two blocks in one day.
Of course, making the most out of those smaller chunks of time takes a little planning beforehand. This brings me to tip number two.
If you’re going to make the most of those 20 minutes you blocked off, for instance, by not putting away your kids’ laundry and accepting that they will do a lousy job, but a job you don’t have to do, or by declaring that tonight’s dinner is cereal, it’s best to go in with a plan.
Without a plan, you may spend all that time just deciding what project to start and then not start, or realize you don’t have a supply you need, and not order it and then forget about it until the next time you want to work on it. So, I like to spend some of my time blocks just in preparation.
When I punch a rug, that may look something like this:
These are the steps I take before I can begin actually punching my rug. But with most projects, I’ve found there are some key categories in the planning stage:
Planning and creativity might not always seem to go hand in hand, but some of us do enjoy a good list. So, get out your Washi tape and favourite pens and make it a fun exercise!
Once you’ve made it through the planning and preparation stages, you’re ready to make the actual thing! You’ve prioritized some smaller blocks of time to work on your project, but if you’re constantly having to haul your supplies out and pack them back away, it can be a total time suck.
Ideally, we all want a designated space for ourselves other than the kitchen table. Personally, I claimed a corner of our basement beside a pile of lego a couple years ago. Often I’m working on a rug while a lively game of mini sticks is going on beside me.
While the dream is to have a beautiful, bright, artfully arranged studio one day, I currently have an affordable large folding table, a repurposed bookshelf, and have hung pieces of my work and this Ikea pegboard system to make this one wall my own. You don’t need to claim a huge area or spend a ton of money to make space for yourself.
Not a possibility? Think of ways to corral your supplies, so you can keep them nearby where you would like to work - whether that’s the living or dining room.
Carts like this one, are handy for rolling materials out of the way. I also really like baskets, which I used to keep on extra dining chairs, so I could quickly put away supplies before dinner and pull them out again afterward.
I also often keep a basket with yarn and punches in the living room, so I can bring out a rug to work on while watching a family movie or series (Mighty Ducks, Game Changers only needs half my attention).
So, will doing “just” these three things help you create more this year? I think it's worth a shot. I do know that these strategies have helped me create more over the years and they might just help you too.