Updated: Jun 19, 2020
Something that comes up a lot in my coaching sessions is time. Not having enough time, things taking up too much time. Put simply, how do we find the time to be creative or to develop ourselves?
First off, it’s hard! There’s so much that needs to be done. How can we possibly find the time to do the things that we want to do?
And here is the first big step. Find ways to turn your wants into needs.
This all comes down to what we ascribe value to. Our work emails have value because we get paid to do them. Our tax return has value because there is a deadline and we get fined if we miss it.
On the flip side, what value does our creative writing bring? Or what value does our relaxation and vocal work bring?
We live in a world that tends to equate money and value. This is entirely false. There are many other forms of value out there and we must remember this. So, yes, some things have value because we get paid to do them (or get fined for not doing them!). But other things have value because they make us feel more relaxed, because they make us more connected, because they get our brain thinking differently.
So just think for a moment about what value your creative writing brings. It gives you an outlet, it gives you some time to focus your mind on something completely different, it takes you out of the everyday world for moment, etc. etc. Take a moment to think and write these things down as a reminder.
Similarly, think of the value that spending just 10 minutes a day doing vocal exercises will bring. You feel more relaxed and confident, your voice feels stronger, you can communicate more effectively, you can think more clearly.
And, hey presto, these things are actually enabling you to do the stuff you need to do more effectively! Suddenly, writing those emails becomes that bit easier, coming up with a creative solution to a problem at work feels more straightforward, that departmental meeting you were dreading feels so much more manageable. So, now we’ve come full circle and can see that these things that you want to do, actually are necessary for you do be able to do the things you need to do to the best of your ability. In other words, you need to do them too!
This changes the way we prioritise our time. Instead of thinking, "I’ll do that writing at the end of the day if I’ve got time" - do it at the start of the day. If you wait until the end of the day, you’ll never have time for it or you’ll feel too tired to bother with it. If you put it at the start of the day, you can give it the creative space it needs and deserves. You have a designated time to focus on yourself and your creative endeavours. Then you can put it to one side and get on with the working day. I guarantee you will get as much work done!
By giving value to our creative and personal development and prioritising time for it, we will actually become more efficient and more productive.
The other trick to unlocking time is scheduling and routine.
I’ve mentioned the power of routines before and they really are exceptionally useful when used in the right way. You need to view a routine as a source of freedom rather than a constraint. By setting aside certain times for certain activities, it gives you the freedom to fully commit to each activity – one activity at a time.
One of the biggest things that stops us pursuing our creative and personal development, is the sense that “I should be doing something else”. Well, if you have a routine then you shouldn’t be doing something else because that something else is being done at 11:30am! So you don’t need to worry about it now – you’ve already set aside a part of the day specifically for that activity. If you suddenly think of something that’s not on the routine then, great, write it down, finish your current task, then look at your schedule and re-assess.
The biggest thing a routine gives you is space to focus on the present moment. It saves you so much time because you stop having to ask yourself "what am I doing now?" or "what am I doing after this?"
So there you go! Value your creative and personal development not because it’s nice to do but because it has genuine, real value. Then set aside specific time in your daily routine for yourself. Make it a habit and make it a priority. Don’t hide it at the end of the day where it might get squeezed out or forgotten about. Give it pride of place and give it value. It will more than pay you back for it.