By Nicole Tinkham
If your head is spinning with all the things that you want to and have to do on a daily basis, I can totally relate. It’s tough to manage a family, the bills, a job, other responsibilities, and also time for yourself (like your art time). Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like there’s enough time in the day to get it all done, right? The good news is that managing your art time with everything else that’s going on is quite simple. It will take some organizing, prioritizing, planning and dedication but it’s certainly achievable. If I can make it all work in my life, I’m confident that you can too. Read on for your how-to guide for balancing art time with everything else.
1. Have dedicated art space
The first thing you must do is separate your art space from your family or other space at home. This can be very difficult for the artist and I understand that but there’s a reason for it. As artists, we can easily get lost in our artwork. If there are art supplies throughout the house you’ll be tempted to work on your art and put other important things off. Or if you’re stressed out because you don’t have time for your art, it’s a constant reminder of what you’re not doing which can make you feel worse.
By keeping your art space separate, you won’t feel so scattered and you’ll actually be able to focus on one thing at a time. So how in the world are you supposed to keep your art stuff together and separate from everything else in your house?? I have a few suggestions..
First thing’s first, you must get organized. Gather similar supplies (all watercolor supplies, for example) and store them together. Donate anything you never use. Invest in or create the perfect storage solutions for your supplies and save space wherever you can. If you have an extra bedroom or basement area, this is perfect for your separate art room. If you do not have a separate room, you could put up a screen or room divider to create your own little space.
One thing you can’t control is the creative ideas that flow in at the most random moments. These ideas are good though! Carry a journal with you everywhere and jot down those ideas as they come. That way you’ll get the idea down on paper and out of your mind so you can move your focus onto other things.
2. Set your priorities
Once your space is organized it’s time to set your priorities. Many people skip over this step when getting started in something new and are disappointed when they still aren’t happy. Sometimes adding more art time to your life can hurt you if you aren’t allowing enough time for other things that you care about.
For example, if you put family as your main priority and art as your secondary, this means your family comes first. Always. If you chose art over a family birthday party, you may not be very happy with your decision because you’re missing out on something important.
Take a look at every area of your life (career, hobbies, family, relationships, health, faith, and finances) and rank them in order of their importance to you. If an opportunity comes up that takes you away from your main priority it may not be ideal for you to go after. Prioritizing will help you in the next step, blocking time in your schedule to actually get more accomplished.
3. Block time in your calendar
Whether you’re an organized person or not, you need to invest in a good planner! If you take a look at your calendar, you’ll discover a lot of time in your day. When you’re blocking time to do certain things, understand that this scheduled time will be focused and productive time to really get things done.
Start with your main priority and block out time for those things first. If your main priority is family, you may block time in for a family party or a planned dinner out. Move onto the next priority which may be your full time job. Block out the time you will be busy with that. Then move onto the next thing and keep going until your calendar is full (or nearly full – you’ll want to keep some time open to relax).
Tip: Color code your blocks of time to differentiate your priorities. Family events are green for example while art time is purple.
When planning your calendar, it’s a good idea to leave a little buffer room between activities and leave some down time to just relax! Block your time consistently every single week. Of course things will come up and alter your schedule but having an idea of how your week looks will really help keep your priorities in line.
4. Have a chat with your friends and family
You are now on a mission. You will get more done and you’ll start having focused time in the areas that mean the most to you. This is huge! It’s time to sit down with the people closest to you and let them know your plan. Keeping them in the dark about what’s going on could confuse them (why is she locking herself in the art room from 6-7:30 pm and not talking to anyone?). Explain your goals and what you hope to accomplish with them. Make it clear what’s important to you and share your calendar with them so they know not to distract you during your art time or whatever else you have scheduled.
I hear from artists all the time who describe their art space and life as “organized chaos”. I completely understand how that works out for you because I can be the same way. However, when prioritizing my schedule and finding time for all the things I want to do, I find it very helpful to stay at least somewhat organized. Of course you don’t have to be perfect but when it comes to your planner, have things in order to keep you on track. That’s the biggest way I’ve seen improvement in my productivity.
I would love to know, will you be using these steps to balance your art time with all the other things you do? I can’t wait to hear how it goes!