How To Stay Creative In Busy Times

No matter if you are working as a freelancer or writing a blog, while in a full time job, attending university or being in school. For most of us, it’s super hard to do creative work, with an already full schedule.

It’s hard to stay creative, when work is busy and emails lining up in your inbox, clients waiting for feedback or you are busy studying for your exams. So creative projects are put on hold, which way too often results in not finishing them at all.

So what can we do about it? How can we keep doing our creative work and guarantee we are making our creative ideas come true, even if we are already busy with work? I have collected some tips that help me a lot and I hope that the advice is useful to you, too.

1. Focus

Too often I catch myself drifting away from my actual work, not working one hundred percent concentrated. Especially if the work I have to do is not one of my favorite tasks, but instead should just be finished as soon as possible.

If I’m working focused instead without letting my mind wander off, I can do my work so much faster and save lots of time during my work day. I can spend this time doing creative work instead, work that I would probably never gotten around to otherwise.

2. Meditation

I know it might sound a little bit silly at first, but meditation is so helpful. You can concentrate and organize your (work)day better by being more aware and focused.

And it’s super easy to do short meditations during your work day right at your desk or in your office. There are some great meditation apps out there (for desktop and mobile) like Calm, which make it easy even for complete meditation newbies like myself to
do short meditation sessions of 2-10 minutes. At the moment I’m doing at least one meditation session a day and I feel so much more relaxed and calmer and don’t tend to be so unfocused while working.

3. Make Time For Your Creative Work

It seems obvious, but it happens to me all the time. I plan to work on something creative without having a fixed schedule. Then things get more hectic at work and I need to finish this or do that, while my creative work sits untouched on my desk, sometimes even with the result that I don’t finish the creative project at all.

To avoid this, probably far too well known phenomenon, it’s so helpful to see your creative work as important as your client work, your day job or your studies at university or school.

If you do that you will schedule time for your creative work in your daily or weekly to-do lists as well. Of course you always have to be strict with your schedule, even if your are very busy. The problem most people have now, is that it never gets less busy anyways, so in order to get creative work done, you need to see your creative work as very important to you and be very consistent with your schedule.

4. Set Deadlines For Your Creative Projects

You should not only schedule time to work on your creative projects, you should also set yourself a fixed deadline to finish your work. This might sound very strict, but I have experienced so often, that I don’t finish a project, if I don’t set myself a deadline.

If I have this set date as a reminder while working on the project, I also tend to work on it faster and more concentrated. Since I personally work better with a little bit of pressure anyways I can trick myself this way.

5. Work Offline

From my experience it’s so much easier to work concentrated, if I’m not connected to the internet. You don’t get distracted by incoming emails, can’t check your Twitter or Facebook messages or loose track of time while reading something on the web. Working offline you are forced to focus on your work and it’s a lot easier to get things done quicker.

Of course the internet is an important resource tool, which we all need for our work. But you could also create a list of things to check later on. Some people can even do their emails offline, which is easy with apps like Gmail Offline. Leo Babauta, writer of the Zenhabits blog has published the interesting post “My Month of (Almost) No Internet” about his experiences trying to work offline for a month.

6. Just Start

I often have this romantic images of myself getting up extra early to start working on a creative blog post, while drinking a hop cup of tea in the sun rise. These perfect moments do happen, but not as often as I wish and in reality I have learned to just get started without waiting for the perfect moment.

As soon as you start doing creative work, you start feel better as well and the moment then somehow becomes perfect in an improvised kind of way. I often write the best blog posts in totally improvised situations, sitting in a crowed, hectic cafΓ© or on a crowded train.

Working on new WordPress theme ideas also works best for us, if we improvise and start brainstorming new ideas while out hiking on a weekend trip or sitting in a relaxed cafΓ© just scribbling some new ideas. Of course it’s important to have a good, quiet work place as well to get the project finished, but often it’s these little creative outbursts that are most important for a project.

What’s Your Opinion

How do you manage to stay creative in busy work times? Do you have any tips and tricks to share that help you get creative projects finished even with a busy work schedule? I would love to hear your thoughts and your experiences, just write me a comment below!

1 comment on “How To Stay Creative In Busy Times

  1. Hi Ellen,

    Very incisive piece and you highlighted most of the pitfalls to staying focused creatively. It has been the bane of my life. I have however been fighting back. Albeit, with mixed results.
    I do not have internet at home, but I now work so late at the studio that I am worn out by the time I get home. I do however have a 1GB mobile wifi connection for any emergencies. So I am able to completely switch off and catch up on some reading and actual writing on paper. I find I get a lot of creative ideas away from the studio now.

    Also follow new creative paths, especially where you can interact with people and use your hands; I will be adding a small shop and gallery to my studio later this month to sell craft, objet d’art, prints and photography. I can’t wait. The thought has filled me with a new lease of life.

    I also walk a lot more often in London using the back to roads to visit galleries and exhibitions. Being a photographer is also a great way to be mindful and be observant of our surroundings and its ethereal beauty. Listen out for birdsongs too early in the mornings. There is so much noise in urban life now that the art of mindfulness is a healthy habit to have.

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