One of things I have learned during my blogging hiatus was this: You make the time for things you prioritize. Sure, I’d claim I had no time to blog a coherent update because I was busy living my “real” life (I’ve heard this said a million times and I’ve used it as well) BUT, I’d have time to watch my TV series at length, usually on a Friday night to cap off a busy work week.
You make the time.
However, when I started to accept that for me to be good at this – blogging and creating things – I needed to make time for it, there came another obstacle.
The feeling of being overwhelmed and being “not good enough.” Or the thought of “I’m never going to be good at this.” Inspiration is plenty – you see it all around, you will never be lacking from it. But as Elise Cripe puts it, you need to make sure you spend more time creating than consuming.
But the trick when you’re trying to do something different, is to pay attention to the ratio. Am I spending three hours looking at other peoples’ work and only one hour on my own? Can I flip that equation? Three hours for me, just one hour for others? – Elise Cripe
I especially like the part when Elise said that for her, creativity doesn’t strike her – she chases it down. She makes the time to be creative.
This one was what really struck me. Chase it down. For about a year I felt that my creativity has reached its limits – I haven’t done an album in more than a year, I haven’t even written down stories from our family! – and that really got me down. It was really stressful timing with my dad being sick, losing a job, starting a new one and my oldest being away for school – it was my perfect excuse not to be creative. But you know what? It could’ve been better if I made time to do one thing that calms me down – scrapbooking. How therapeutic it would’ve been for me if I made time to just dump all the stress on a paper (or keypad as I would’ve typed them all I’m sure). Or taken more pictures (I didn’t).
So when I read Elise’s post about flipping the ratio on time spent between consuming (soaking up inspiration) and creating (working on that inspiration), something clicked. Oh yeah, I’m that consumer — soaking everything in but not really creating anything. Wanting to create something but not really doing it. That’s me totally.
Decide to Make Time
When I started working as a writer, I’d encounter creative blocks. I can write for a client (and do it effectively, using the company’s voice, supplying content, etc) but somehow I’d get so burned out at the end of a workday that when I’d try to write a cohesive post about something on my mind, I’d end up writing a blank. I felt it was too much work (funny isn’t it? Writing for myself felt more like work than “real” work) and there were a lot of times when it felt like I was drawing blood.
When I decided that I would blog again, I knew I’d need to make time for it. I’d need to sit down and commit to a schedule. The same thing happened when I decided to make creative stuff for myself and my family again, I’d need to sit down and just create and not be overwhelmed with the beautiful inspiration that fueled that desire to create in the first place.
The operative word there was DECIDE.
I choose to make time. I decide to make time. I decide how to spend my time. Now, for example, instead of browsing so many inspiring and eye-candy Instagram posts, I work on things I want to create. Maybe I’ll share them here, maybe not. The key here is that I spent the time doing things I really wanted to do and not just wished I’d do.
Finding the Time
Once I have decided, the next challenge was to find the time. But this was easier because as I’ve said already, “You make the time for things you prioritize.”
So what am I doing differently? I still have crazy hours at work. We have no maid. I am the tutor to my youngest. So where do I find the time?
I plan ahead. With blogging, it helps that I have read about the efficiency of editorial calendars and planning your posts ahead of time. Sure, it would’ve been easier for me to just write one post every day, from Monday to Friday, about whatever “speaks to me” at the moment but you need to remember that 1) I’ve just come out from a blogging burnout so blogging doesn’t come as natural to me anymore as before. I need practice. And 2) my goal is to provide a specific type of content and not just whatever floats my boat moment. There is nothing wrong with that, don’t get me wrong. I still feel that my best pieces were the spontaneous things I’ve written. However, going back to number 1, it doesn’t come naturally to me anymore. So I need to chase it down.
Something’s gotta give. As with everything else, something needs to go. And for me, it was social media time. As soon as my daughter goes to school, I check e-mails. Then I scheduled in blogging time – researching content, writing it down, taking/looking for pictures, formatting – pretty much like what a content editorial team would normally do, except that I am a one-man team. After that, I’d go to work. (Notice I put my needs first than work – I find it helps me focus better at work knowing I have done what I wanted to do first thing in the morning). Social media time is done during quick lunchbreaks or bathroom breaks (Ha!).
Go easy on myself. When I was really close to relaunching this blog, I had so.many.ideas. So many things I want to do, write, accomplish, share. Name it, I’d probably thought of it. It was inspiration sensory overload that I literally froze and said – Gosh, I can’t do this. I’d fail. I can’t go all out. But I realized that I need to go easy on myself. This blog is supposed to be something that will help me, not paralyze me. A perfect example, I’d originally planned to blog for 31 days this month. As it is already the 7th of October and this is only my 3rd post, I can say that I’ve already failed (at the start of my blog launch, how lame!). I have this perfectionist side of me that tells me that if I didn’t make it right according to my standards, it really isn’t worth finishing anymore. It’s a habit I’m still trying to overcome. So I’m chugging along.
This series, Making Time, was born out of my realization that for me to make things work, I need to find the time. Time is a precious commodity, much more valuable than money and I want to make sure I am rich of it. I still don’t know how to manage my time, this is not an expert advice column. But I can always share what it working for me.