If you find it difficult to focus when working on creative projects, try establishing a routine. Many successful artists and writers, including Stephen King and Twyla Tharp, rely on their daily routines to help them do their best creative work.
Whether it’s working on your creative projects first thing in the morning, taking breaks, or getting more rest, you’ll find that the right routine can help you be more creative and productive.
Work on Creative Projects at the Beginning of the Day
Research has shown that we are most productive at the beginning of the day, especially the first two hours after waking up. So it makes sense to spend this time on the work that’s most important. Turn off your email and text notifications and carve out at least one to two hours for your creative work or other important projects first thing in the morning. Save the rest of the day for responding to emails, answering messages and meetings. See this article for more.
Establish a Routine that Works for You
Not everyone is a morning person. You may find that there are other times of the day when you’re most creative and productive. Schedule your important work during the time of day that works best for you, then schedule meetings, phone calls, bookkeeping and administrative tasks during alternate times. If you have a shared calendar at work, block time out in the calendar for your creative work, so others know that you won’t be available. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind is a wonderful book full of valuable suggestions on establishing a routine and a mindset to help you be more creative and productive.
Limit Social Media and Other Distractions
We love social media for a lot of reasons, but it can also take up a lot of time and energy. If you have important content to post, consider using a social media management tool like Hoot Suite to schedule your posts ahead of time and limit how often you need to log on. Another option is to schedule certain periods of time to spend on social media, which may also help you become more mindful and intentional with your posts. For tips on using social media mindfully, see Lori Deschene’s article.
Sometimes thoughts may pop into your mind while you’re trying to focus on your creative work – if so, just jot them down on paper so you can review them later.
Take Time For Yourself
It’s important to take time for yourself on workdays, including time to eat, relax, meditate or daydream. Taking a few minutes to daydream may actually lead to some new ideas. And studies have shown that because of our natural body rhythms, we need breaks every 90 minutes (see this article). Getting enough rest is another way to take care of yourself. This video and this article both have some helpful tips on getting a good night’s sleep.
Studies have shown that physical exercise can help you to be more productive and more creative. A recent study from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management showed that people who exercised were 23% more productive on the days they exercised than they were on days they didn't. And a study by Rhode Island College showed that our creative potential is greater after aerobic exercise.
Recommendations on the amount of daily exercise we need vary, but if you need help getting a jumpstart on your daily exercise, try going for a walk, taking the stairs, or download the easy to follow Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout. The app can be found here.
Once you find a schedule that works for you, and give yourself the time and resources you need to focus on your creativity, you’ll discover that you can be happier, more productive, and do your best creative work.
Do you have a routine that helps you produce your best work? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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