How to Live a Creative Life on a 9-5 Schedule
As a creative-with-a-capital-C person, the need to make things is embedded deep into my personality. It’s fairly easy to find time to work on a DIY project or write blog posts or take photographs or paint something when you’re in college, and your schedule consists of four classes every week and that’s about it. But ever since I’ve started working full time, I’ve realized how difficult it is to balance my time. I’m lucky to work in a job that allows (and basically hinges on) me flexing my creative muscles, but still, creating things for yourself is a whole different animal. I figured the old cardinal rule is true – if I’m feeling it, other people must be feeling it also. So I figured I’d share my tip and tricks for being a creative free-spirit even when you’re working 40+ hours a week.
I know it can be difficult to “schedule” time to be creative, because sometimes the inspiration isn’t flowing and it’s impossible to channel it at a certain time every day. But what I mean is, set aside some time every evening or weekend or whenever works for you to give yourself the space to be creative. Set your phone to silent and push away work and life stressors if you’re able to, and just take the time to create something.
It doesn’t have to be “good” and you don’t have to finish something – it’s not about being productive. It’s about allowing yourself to get into a creative mindset instead of just languishing away on the couch in front of Netflix.
Change your surroundings
If you’re able to do so, try working from home once in a while, or take your laptop to a park or coffee shop. Just try to give yourself new surroundings, because sitting in the same office or cubicle day in and day out can be stifling after a while.
Of course, many people don’t have jobs that would allow them to do this, so if that’s the case, maybe use your lunch hour to explore a new area of your city or try a new restaurant for lunch. Use some of that scheduled time we talked about to explore and broaden your horizons. Being in a new place will do wonders for your creativity.
Take advantage of your time
Lately, instead of grabbing lunch somewhere and wasting time scrolling through various social media outlets on my lunch hour, I've been trying to read a bit of a book over lunch. Sure, that’s not directly creating something, but it gets me in that creative mindset much more so than if I were just playing mindless games on my phone.
Basically, take advantage of the pockets of time you have during the week, whether it’s your lunch hours, evenings or weekends. Often when I get home from work, I give myself permission to sit in front of the tv all night with some takeout under the guise of “I worked all day so I deserve this!” Which yes, is true, and is also sometimes necessary, but can eventually lead to feeling burnt out, depressed, crabby and unorganized because I find myself doing it every night then wonder why I never have or make time to read or write or craft.
See things through a new lens
A concept I’ve been obsessed with for a while is being a tourist in your own city. Basically, it’s all about perspective – we see these landmarks and buildings and businesses every day, so it’s not wonderful to us. But to someone from out of town – even if you don’t exactly live in a tourist destination – it’s all completely new and incredible.
You can take that concept and apply it to almost anything, really. Try looking at your job, your office, your apartment, your city, or your favorite coffee shop with new eyes. Imagine you’ve never been there before and try to see it for what it is, instead of brushing it off or ignoring it as commonplace. Really look at the scenery on your commute instead of burying your face in your phone, or grab lunch with a coworker you don’t talk to often. Seeing things in a new way can make you feel more inspired and creative in your everyday life.
Create something new every day
It doesn’t have to be a huge project, it doesn’t even have to be good – just flex those creative muscles every day, ESPECIALLY if you don’t have a creative outlet at your job. Even if it’s just a doodle on a sticky note, you’ve created something. Write a chapter of your book (or even a paragraph), complete a small DIY project, work on a puzzle, read a book, write a blog post, paint a still life – just make sure you never stop creating.