Our time is perhaps our most valuable commodity. How we choose to use the time we have often directly affects the quality of our lives.
Many of us spend a good amount of time at work, often longing for the hours that we get away from it. We spend time with friends and family and many times, our time is spent caring for those folks. We have chores, responsibilities, and many of us use our time to volunteer. The list goes on and on. There are plenty of activities that soak up our precious time.
With this considered, it’s no wonder why so many folks often dismiss their art for the sake of all of those other “responsibilities”. At the end of day, they simply just don’t “have enough time” for their art.
Or do they?
We each get the same 24 hours in a day. It’s how we choose to spend those hours that truly provides insight on who we are as people and our priorities in life.
The truth is, we only get one life. Each minute that passes and each day that goes by is gone. We cannot get it back.
For those of us that have the “creative itch”, not making time for your art can lead to regret if we don’t answer the calling. Those minutes add up to days, months, and years. We look back and wish that we would have just spent a little more time on our passions – our callings.
“Not making time for our art can lead to regret if we don’t answer the calling.”
It’s easy to say in the moment that we don’t “have enough time”. But this is just another way of saying “it’s just not a priority”. If becoming an artist is a priority and answering that “creative calling” is important to you, then you need to make time for it. If not, you could look back years later and wish that you had done so.
You are worth it. It’s okay to take a break from your other time commitments, if only for a few minutes a day, and concentrate on what makes you happy. And if developing a skill for drawing and painting is what makes you happy, like it does for me, then carve out those minutes each day. Not only will you reach your goals and avoid regret, but you’re also more likely to be happier with your life as well.
I know that talking about it is much easier than actually making it happen, so let’s look at a few strategies to help you find the time to devote to your art.
Start With Small Time Increments
We tend to look at developing a skill like drawing or painting as an overwhelming task. Our brains calculate how much work must go into developing the skill and as a result, we become overwhelmed.
The truth is that little bits of time really add up in the long run. We don’t have to feel that we need to finish a work in one sitting or work for large chunks of time every time we sit down to draw or paint.
If we just devote 15 minutes a day to our art, then we will see improvement. A 15 minute a day session is possible by just about anyone. Let’s look at how just 15 minutes a day can add up over time…
- After one week – 1 hour and 45 minutes spent on your art
- After one month – 7 hours spent on your art
- After six months – 42 hours spent on your art
- After one year – 84 hours spent on your art
I can guarantee you that after 84 hours of concentrated work on your art, you will be astounded at your improvement and what you produce. Just imagine what you could accomplish if you spend 30 minutes a day.
Make Drawing and Painting A Habit
I once heard a fitness instructor tell his students to start a habit of exercise by doing just one push-up each day. One push-up? How that can be helpful?
In this case, it’s not about the physical benefit of the push-up. It’s about the habit that is formed by doing a single push-up. The activity only takes a few seconds to undertake, so the “time excuse” is irrelevant. Most folks are willing to spend the time to do just one single push-up.
If the mindset is that just one is “required” and they are already on the ground and in position, why not do a couple more? So instead of doing just one push-up, they end up doing a few more. It’s getting to the “starting point” that’s the hard part, but once you’re there, it’s easy to keep going.
Before long, a habit is formed and daily exercise becomes part of a routine.
The same can be true about our art. It’s often getting to the “starting point” that is difficult. If we can commit to just 15 minutes a day, then we may find that we actually can work a little longer. It’s a simple shift in mindset, but it works.
Eliminate Set Up Time
Another related strategy for making time for our art is eliminating the “start up” time. Getting your materials in place and setting up our work space takes a bit of time, so why not try to cut back that start up time by eliminating as much of it as possible?
Devote a space for your art. Set yourself up with a mini-studio and use this space exclusively for your art. If possible, create this space in an area that is easy to access and in a location that is not “out of the way” in your home. If you walk past this space on a daily basis, it will help remind you of what’s important to you and you’re more likely to “find the time” to use it.
Have your materials set up and accessible so that all you need to do is sit down and work. Don’t waste time looking for that brush, just sit down and get started.
Our lives are busy and distractions are always popping up. Some distractions are unavoidable, but most are unnecessary. When distractions pop up, they detour our thoughts and make us lose focus.
Most of our distractions are self-imposed. Do we really need to spend 30 minutes on Facebook or watch that entire last season of “Game of Thrones”?
Staying focused can be challenging, but one thing that has helped me stay focused is to use a timer. If I know that I’m going to dedicate a set amount of time on a task, I somehow become hyper-focused on that task during that time period. I know that it has a finite end, and when the time is up, I can go do those other things.
Most smart phones are equipped with some sort of timer. Kitchen timers work well too. Since I have a computer in my studio, right next to my drafting table, I use a web-based timer at e.ggtimer.com.
I set any amount of time I wish and as it expires, I can see how much time I have left. Whenever I start to become distracted, that timer is staring right back at me, forcing me to return to a state of focus.
Set Goals For Yourself
Setting goals for yourself is important and they should be written down somewhere, like in an art journal. When we set a goal, something happens in our mind that begins the process of achieving that goal.
But if no goal is set or recorded, we often aimlessly wander.
Once a goal is set, it also should be tracked. If your goal is to spend just 15 minutes a day on your art, then track your progress. Check off every day that you meet your goal. If you miss a day, which will happen, it’s no big deal. Try not to miss two days in a row though, as this can lead to a “habit” of inactivity.
Have an Accountability Partner
We often can make excuses for letting ourselves down. However, we will mostly avoid letting others down at all costs.
If you can set yourself up with an accountability partner, you are more likely to reach your goal of making time for your art. It doesn’t have to be someone that shares your goal. It can be anyone that will simply hold you accountable for staying focused. And that “accountability” may be as simple as a daily email or text message. It’s amazing what we accomplish when we know that others will hold us accountable for it.
Summing It Up
The truth is that we make time for things that are important to us. If you are finding it impossible to make time for your art, then maybe it’s just not that important to you.
But if it is, then we it owe it to ourselves to find and make the time for it, even it’s just for a few minutes a day.
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