You’ve heard it before. You are in a class and the instructor says, “All you need in ten minutes to do X. Do it right when you get up and it will be done.” The instructor means this, because the instructor has a routine and the routine feels about 10 minutes long. In reality, nothing takes 10 minutes, least of all right after you get up. If you lined up all those10 minutes you want to dedicate to exercise, writing, spiritual practice, organizing or pet walking, you’d have to start at 5 a.m. and stay up till midnight. And never go to work.
So how are you ever going to get a daily practice of writing, art, music, dance, meditation, anything—in and stay alive?
I have an alternative suggestion. All of us have the same amount of time in a day—24 hours. They aren’t making any more. So getting up earlier or staying up later is not the issue. You are booked. Your day is full. If you want to a daily practice, you have to choose.
Choose one thing over another. For most artists, everything else comes first. We got into that habit with the day job. Work came first, then kids, housecleaning, pets and art came dragging along late at night. No wonder it didn’t earn a living. You treated your art as if it were an afterthought, not the creative force in your life. It seems fair to take care of everything else first, but when you put your creative work last, meaning-making takes a back seat to laundry.
Move art making as a daily practice to the top of the list. Fit in a day job, eating, and sleeping. Everything else drops down the list.
You not only don’t have to do all the housework yourself, sometimes it doesn’t get a priority at all. My house is hardly ever company ready. Cat hair swirls in the corners of the staircase. I don’t have dust bunnies, I have dust buffaloes. But I write, meditate and read every day. Because I changed priorities.
I used to do all my chores on time–vacuum, dust, clean bathrooms, empty dishwasher, do laundry. . .the list is impressive. At the end of the day, I was too tired to be creative. Then I gave myself permission to let the housekeeping slide. Not forever, but some cleaning doesn’t get done until it needs to. Ask others in the house to pitch in. Don’t do it for them when they don’t. Laundry that isn’t perfectly folded can still be worn. If the sink backsplash has water spots on it, the sink is still clean enough to use.
Use the newly-found time to focus on your art, or reading or daydreaming, but don’t use it to check up on Facebook, watch TV or read blogs. Try daydreaming instead—it can be an important part of your creative practice.
Or, make yourself a permission slip? Don’t have time? OK, I’ll send you the one above–but only if you give me a compelling reason why you can’t make your own! (I have three to give away)
—Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach. She never has enough time to do everything she would like, but she has learned to choose a mix of things that keep life interesting. Ironing isn’t one of them.