Balancing life and creative time.

Sometimes I don’t allow myself to paint because I feel like the rest of my life is too much of a mess

If I could only get on top of things I’d be ok and have all this calm, peaceful time to create in.

When I don’t get to paint I feel sluggish, less patient with everyone and it affects all areas of my life. I think most people need some time for themselves, To do something that nourishes, recharges and wakes up part of the brain

Last year wasn’t good, and I felt like I was failing in every area. I was behind with paperwork for my teaching, behind with laundry and housework, putting off a grocery shop  and just topping up at the local , more expensive shop - every day and not being focussed on my daughter when we had time together. My lack of organisation meant that I’d be dashing out to buy bread in the morning, when i could have picked some up at the shop when I was there the night before. I wasted time on the wrong things and then rushed to do other things , doing them so them badly that I’d have to redo.

I needed to streamline the everyday things and clear my mind so I have the time to be creative, without feeling guilty.

So , in 2019 I’m trying a few new things.

Here are some tools that I’ve discovered over the summer that look like they’ll help .

(I’ve put links at the bottom of the post)


1 The bullet journal.

I tend to write on little scraps of paper, sometimes enter events or things to do in the calendar on my phone, stick things on my fridge or the worst one, just trust that I’ll remember things. This means I always have this feeling that I might have missed something.

I saw this video of a the bullet journal that pulls together all these things we need to remember and I felt like this was the solution for me. I’m doing a very simple version.  I bought a basic A6 notebook and now, every morning I can sit with my morning coffee and in a couple of minutes can check what I need to do that day so that it clears my mind. There’s also future planning and random lists in there so no need for random bits of paper.

2 TOMM ( The organised mum method.)

I can’t believe I’m writing about housework, It’s just not me. I’m one of those people that tries to ignore housework, I have better things to do . But really, knowing that one of these days we’re going to have to do a big clean, which is going to take hours on a weekend takes up space in my mind. My mum told me about this method, and I’ve never heard mum talk with enthusiasm about housework - (we both tend to do it in a resentful way.)

To me the the TOMM method seems to be for people who just want to get it out of the way, without having to think about it. What I’ve taken from it is that I now set a timer and do as much cleaning in that time and then just stop. This idea suits me as I hate to think of my precious time being spent on cleaning. So far it’s helping because I’m more likely to start when I know it’s only for a fixed time.

3 Toggl

Using a timer with my housework made me realise I can do this for other tasks.

Over the holidays my phone has started showing me my screen time hours - I was ashamed at how much time I spent on social media  - 18 hours in the last 7 days ? I really need to get on top of this. I heard some advice on a podcast that said it’s good to set limits and before you go on Instagram you work out what you’re going on to do - eg to answer comments on your post and set a limit of 15 mins - Then get off your phone.

It’s made me wonder how other I spend on other areas related to making and selling art and I want to know accurately how long I spend on actually creating, and how much on related admin like website updating, newsletter writing, packaging, researching exhibiting opportunities.

Then I got recommended an app Toggl by another artist - and it’s just what I was looking for ! It’s the same as using my phone’s timer but I can click on a category like “ blog writing” . As I write now, the timer is running and I’ll know how much time a blog post might take next time so will be able to plan better.

I’ve only been doing this for a week but I’m becoming more conscious of how I’m spending my time and am looking forward to seeing the results.

Blocking time.

Another thing I’m experimenting with is to block time for painting. If I know Tuesday evenings and Sunday mornings are my painting times then I won’t say yes to other tasks.  I also won’t find myself thinking I wish I was painting when I’m doing something else bacause I’ll know I’ll be painting that evening, and I can enjoy the moment I’m in.

So these are what I’m trying. I’m not going to beat myself up if I drop them all by March but it was definitely time for some kind of reset.