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.
Are you looking for some creative inspiration for the New Year? You don’t have to make big changes; even small ones can help bring out your creativity.
1. Turn off Distractions
It’s hard to focus with distractions all around us. See if you can go a week without one, or all, of these:
2. Make Creativity a Habit
Having a daily routine can help bring out your most creative self. In her book, The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp explains her habit of waking up at the same time each day, starting her day by going to the gym to exercise, and how she has done this daily for many years. Read her book for much more.
3. Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal helps quiet your mind by forcing you to put your thoughts down on paper. Try writing for at least 20 minutes a day and see what you discover. Bonus – It’s believed that putting our thoughts on paper before going to bed helps us relax and get a good night’s sleep.
4. Stop Multi-Tasking
This can be hard to do since we have so much to do and so little time. If you’re talking on the phone, just have the phone conversation and do nothing else. If you’re in a meeting or at dinner, put your smart phone away (try the app dinnermode). When you go for a walk, enjoy the walk completely and take in your surroundings. Your next creative idea may come to you without even trying.
5. Discover your Inner Child
Try doing a child-like exercise, such as coloring in a coloring book, or completing a simple craft project. Coloring can be an easy way to escape, be in the moment and be creative. The fact that coloring books for adults have recently become popular is a clue that we all probably need to take a few moments for ourselves to de-stress and find our inner creativity. For more on this read this WSJ article.
It doesn’t take much to get inspired. If you’re even the least bit motivated, just one of these ideas can help lead you to a more creative 2016. It’s time to celebrate a more creative you!
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