Why You Can Never Find Time To Create (And How To Claim It Back)

image: danjames

Regardless of any other barriers that stop us creating what matters, there’s one that’s arguably the most debilitating of all.

If we don’t ever get to the canvas, the lens, the screen, the stage, then there’s no way we can begin to create anything there.

We’re talking about finding time to create. If we don’t commit specific chunks of time to showing up, sitting down, and focusing on creating, we never create anything.

Overcoming this problem begins with a simple yet profound shift – first in our language, then in our thinking, and finally our behaviour.

Let’s ask a question –

When you feel you don’t have enough time to create, what do you say? How do you express that lack of time?

I’m guessing it something like –

“I’d love to create more, but I just don’t have time.”

Or –

“If only I had more time, I’d be creating every day, but there’s too many other things that need to be done.”

Most of us say the same.

By phrasing our perceived problem in this way though, we’re rendering ourselves helpless, and stuck.

We’re talking about time as if it is something we have been given too little of by someone or something else, and we just have to accept our lot.

We’re also by definition implying that other artists who do get down to creating and exploring the work they were born to do have somehow been given extra time.

Maybe they get 26 or 30 or 40 hours a day, and you get a measly 24?

Of course this isn’t true. We all have the same 24 hours a day to make use of how we choose.

And it’s those last three little words in that last sentence that’s the crux of this shift we talked about just now. How we choose.

If you’re not spending as much time creating as you’d like, there’s only one reason why – and this applies to every single one of us.

It’s because you’re spending your time doing other things.

Yes that sounds like a statement of the obvious, but it’s where we need to begin to help you shift your thinking and start finding the time to create you crave.

We all have an internal scale of priorities. How we spend our time ties in with this priority scale.

If you’re not spending a single minute of a 24 hour day creating, it’s because there are 24 hours’ worth of other activities that you have decided are of greater priority.

You have chosen which activities and commitments you want to fill that time with. Yes, chosen.

And creative time isn’t one of them. It simply isn’t a high enough priority for you to make it into the top tier.

Now we’ve reframed the situation, the solution becomes more clear.

For you to have more time on your creative work, one simple thing needs to happen. You need to make it a higher priority on your scale.

You can approach this in two ways – attack it from either end. Or even better, both ends at once.

1. You can remind yourself how important it is for you to create.

A great way of doing this is taking yourself back to a time when you were completely lost in creating. When it was flowing like a waterfall after a seven day storm and your whole world for that period of time  (whether five minutes or five hours) was about you and what you were bringing to life right there in your hands.

Whether it was five days ago, or five years ago, spend some time (yes you have to choose to put time aside to do this) letting those happy memories come back to you. Focus on every detail – how you felt, how the world looked around you, what you were hearing and saying to yourself in your head.

When we lose touch with how fundamentally vital it is for us to create (and personally I rank it in the top four essentials of living – eating, sleeping, breathing, creating), it’s no wonder it slides right down our scale of priorities (and often right off the end!)

Even a few minutes starting to recollect what the experience of creating gives you – that nothing else in the world can give you – will start you on the way back to choosing to spend more time creating again.

2. You can take a long hard look at all the other things on your list that do get done, and ask if they’re really as important as you’ve been making them.

An hour in front of the TV every night? 30 minutes twice a day browsing articles on creativity, or window shopping for new materials and equipment? Laying in bed each morning feeling frustrated that you don’t have more time to create, rather than actually getting up a bit earlier and doing it?

A powerful question to ask is – What can you let go of?

What is truly less important than you have been giving it credit for? What can be put aside to make time for something more important – your creative work?

Let’s recap –

Finding more time to create – the time you say you long for – begins with a simple shift in language. “I don’t have time to create” is actually “I’m choosing not to make creative time a priority”.

You are in charge of how you spend your time. You can choose how much time you spend creating.

Everything has a priority rating in your mind. To give yourself more time creating, it has to be given a higher priority.

To do this, remind yourself how important creating is to you – how it feeds you and nourishes you like nothing else.

Then, take a look at all the other things you’re currently giving higher priority than creating. What can you let slide down the scale (or let go of entirely) to make space and time for more creating?

This is all you need.

Let me know how this changes things for you.


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