One of my lovely readers (I’m lookin’ at you, kid!) suggested that I tackle a post about how to keep momentum going on a creative project when you have, well, life happening.
It’s definitely tough when we think we have to have enough energy “left over” at the end of a long day of working, meeting with people, taking care of a home and/or kids, and running errands. There is so much in our culture that demands our attention that many of us are completely drained at the end of a normal day.
In physics, we know that the momentum of an object is unchanged unless (say it with me kids) “acted upon by an outside force.”
Ask yourself what in your life is acting as that “outside force” right now?
Is it the clutter in the place where you usually work on creative stuff? Is it that you don’t have any alone time? Is it that you are so exhausted you can’t manage to do anything but order pizza when you get home?
If so, those are the blocks to your momentum you need to address first.
* Clean up the workspace and make it an attractive place to spend a few minutes. Make sure all the tools you need are there and easily accessible. If you live with others and don’t have a designated workspace, try to find one in the house — preferably with a door.
* Plan out a little bit of time that is just for you in the day. Make it an appointment, just like any other work meeting or obligation. Even 20 minutes will be a tremendous help. For those of you who don’t think you have ANY time at all — take a good look at your schedule. Take a couple of days and keep track of what you are actually doing. You might be surprised to find that you spend 3 hours online, or 2 in front of the TV, or 1 puttering around the house worrying about stuff. Carve out some of that type of time (which is actually draining you) to just be with yourself and your creative ideas.
* If all you want is a pizza, first let me say I feel your pain. Next, I’m going to tell you something you may not have heard since elementary school: It’s ok to take a nap. No seriously, if you are utterly exhausted and can’t manage anything creative at all, your body probably actually does need a little extra power nap. Use the time you carved out above to take a quick snooze. Once your body feels better, you can work on the other stuff.
Once the daily blocks to your momentum are cleared away, you can start to adjust the way you think about your creative project. Instead of thinking of it as a leftover (something you’ll do when you get around to it or feel like it), make the project a priority.
I know how that sounds. And no, I am not telling you to quit your day job or tell your kids to walk to school (uphill! both ways!). What I am telling you is that the reason you give so much of your energy to those other items is because you feel like you have to. Those things must get done in order for the daily systems of your life to keep running. Make your creative project one of those things you must do. When it stops being a leftover, you stop making excuses for why you can’t or shouldn’t do it. Allow this to be important, and you won’t have to justify spending time on it.
In my next post, I’ll talk about ways that I get going (and keep going) on a new project.