Photography by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

            – Scott Adams

I have never lacked creativity, in fact growing up my imaginary friends were the best ones I had. I tend to be a dreamer, and following the rules isn’t something I do very well. However, to be successful, taming the crazy is a must.

 Unsupervised, creativity can inspire greatness or trouble.

Too much creativity can be a burden when you became over-committed and overloaded with projects. How many times have you heard your name being called along with the lines “Oh she’s so creative and crafty, she’d love to _____”? Suddenly you are put on the spot to come up with the best excuse to get out of teaching a herd of 4 year-olds how to decoupage. Sometimes you have the answer, and sometimes you just stand there with your mouth open as you realize are now enlisted in “guilt-driven volunteering” just because you wanted to show off how cool your latest project turned out. This is when you need to learn how to be clear and precise about what you need and what you will do. This helps others to know the limits of what they can ask of you. “I have some time to volunteer in April, and I’m available to help with _____.”

Being creative is a way of thinking and how you see the world.

It often comes easy for me to see a problem and turn it around and around in my mind. I ask a lot of questions, trying to see the whole picture in my mind. I am a visual thinker. Most of the time I can form an image in my head of what needs to be done for a particular project. However, when working with a group on a project, I find that I tend to take a few steps back. I am more of the creative mastermind in a project and not so much the scheduler or dictator. Know your strengths and weaknesses.  You know what you do well. But it’s alright to know also what you either don’t excel at. Enlist the help of others when you need it or offer to trade your skills for support.  Creatives, BE A PART OF YOUR COMMUNITY! Ask for help and offer your help in return.

Tools to keep time from running away

During the winter months, I am indoors most of the time. The lack of spatial freedom forces me to focus on deskwork. Sounds like fun? In a way, it is a perfect time to get down into the glitter and pull out something incredible. Creative ideas flutter into my head from every direction. However, for some like myself who have creative investments, like a blog or a book that needs to be written, it can also be overwhelming. I need to have a schedule to keep or else I find myself either losing time on a project, getting distracted by random other things and never getting started, or just plain forgetting what I wanted to do and turning on music and getting lost. ( Candy Crush is EVIL ) Tailwind is a great tool to be able to schedule your Pinterest and Instagram posts for months ahead of time, set it and forget it! It is one of the best tools out there for Pinterest and it has saved me so much time, because I tend to get distracted on Pinterest and lose hours.  So now I simply use the app and move things along quickly. How to get Tailwind FREE

Use your calendar!

Creating a schedule on your calendar, with reminders and updates is a great way to keep on track, and help to focus your mind. I use my digital calendar that syncs to my phone to schedule writing time, time to create graphics, time for creative projects, and social media. And when I get distracted, my calendar reminds me when the next scheduled task is coming so I can quickly get back to the schedule.
So how do you focus all of these inventive moments and keep from going imaginatively insane?
You need to set limits of what ventures you will and will not take. I have found that the most powerful word ever conceived to control the flow happens to be one of the first words babies learn and use the most. NO. At first, there is some guilt when you first try out telling a friend, co-worker, or fellow congregant that you will not take on another task. You don’t want to lose friends or seem like you aren’t a part of a group. But you also have to know when you can’t overcommit so that you can do an excellent job on the projects you want to undertake. Once you set down the guidelines for yourself about how many projects you will take on or what projects that you actually enjoy doing, you will find that people don’t mind being told that you won’t take on too many projects and you won’t be overloaded. This means you can focus on and enjoy the ones you do take on.
Back to the calendar
I find it useful to think about the year and the number of big outside projects I want to take on. Now that my children are all grown, I’m not involved in school-related projects, I do take on a few community projects. I pace those along with projects that my family is involved with and my work schedule. I don’t mind lending my creative thoughts to a project and coming up with ideas, but I limit the number of physical projects I will take on each month so that I am not overwhelmed. Helping out is rewarding and worth it.
Personal Time
Don’t forget to book in personal events that might come up. For instance, one of my dearest friends is due to give birth to her third child. Since I LOVE babies and being an Auntie, I want to make sure I am available. I also wanted time to make a few gifts to bring and not be on a tight schedule. So I blocked off time on my calendar as “Baby Time” both before and after the due date. Using my calendar, I can quickly check to see what projects I have coming up and schedule time for writing, sewing, and even lunch out with friends, from my desk or my phone. Since I know what is coming up, I can also plan to get things done ahead of time, so I can take time off.  So when my newest “Little” comes this spring, I’ve already written all of my blog posts and scheduled them ahead of time. Planning on making something? Using your calendar, you can see where you need to focus your time and where you can take breaks.

Make an outline of your month

Each month look at what you have planned and then go back and make an outline under each headline of what needs to be done, where it is going, and other essential details. Example:

May

4 Mindfulness posts
  • Research mindfulness tips
  • Write the articles
  • Do the graphics
  • Schedule
  • Do social media
  • Practice what you preach!
Personal:
  • Change the clocks
  • Put new batteries in fire alarms
  • Schedule GYN appointment.
 Hubby Out of Town
  •  Schedule time to walk the dogs
  • Make plans with friends OR finally catch up on the Walking Dead
Whatever you have on your calendar, if you know your plan of action, you won’t find yourself not ready.  Do you do art?  What do you need to finish that project?  Do you need to shop for supplies?  Ect.
Clear the Clutter!
My last tip is simple.  Clear the clutter, wherever it is that distracts you from being productive.  Clutter draws your attention away from the task at hand.  If you can’t find what you are looking for, you will lose time looking. Make time each day to clear the clutter, sort, and purge before getting started on your projects.  This goes for any type of creative work.  I even find that I do this in my garden projects.  This prepping time helps to put your mind in the right space and keep your focus. Being a creative person is wonderful.  The most successful creatives are the ones who have mastered their own mind and time. Love who you are and the uniqueness of your beautiful mind.

Thanks for taking the time to read our focus tips for creatives.  We would love your tips!  Please leave them in the comments.  And if you found this useful, please share it.

 

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