How often have you said to yourself “I am going to finish producing that record!”
“Tomorrow, I’ll start writing again and get some content together for my blog!”
“I’ll swing by the art supply store and grab some paint!”
We have all been there… the intentions are really strong and our heart desires and yearns to create, but the work grind seems to always win over the day. It took me a long time to get to a point where I was really able to start building consistent habits that enabled me to spend time creating. My habits lead me to writing for three days straight, and than not returning to my journal for a week. I was never able to finish a project, never able to see my creativity come to life.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” – John Maxwell
When it boils down to starting healthy habits such as creating, we start pointing fingers at the clock. Our main excuse, time. The next excuse in line, we are too tired from work and just don’t have the energy! My personal excuse for over twenty years was that I was too stressed. All of these were just excuses that I used to make myself feel better about avoiding my true passion of creating. If you really desire to create something of meaningful value, than you have to be willing to sacrifice something.
Do you know what percentage of the clock is wasted? Slipping into eternity, never to return? In order to take control of your day, you have to know where your time is disappearing to. The easiest way to do this is by grabbing a small note pad and jotting down all of your daily activities for a week. Warning…. this is going to be scary! When I first began tweaking my habits and mentally digesting where my time had escaped to, I was in utter shock! Social media had killed the clock in so many unproductive ways, it turned me into a zombie! It had consumed most of my clock, dominated my day. Why did I feel that I was missing something if I didn’t log onto a social media platform? The addiction is real, don’t let anyone tell you differently. Smartphone users look at Facebook an average of 14 times a day and check their overall phone 157 times a day. Looking at your phone that much in one day is counterproductive.
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but we waste a lot of it.” – Lucius Seneca
Here is how I got started:
Mental tracking came through journaling my daily activities. How do you start your day? My days were started off completely wrong. Instead of beginning my day off productive I would awake and the first thing I did was grab my smart phone. This habit ruined the entire day and set me up for failure. In “Make Your Bed” by Admiral William H. McRaven, his first chapter is titled “Start Your Day With A Task Completed.” He speaks of simplicity, “ search for something that can give you solace.” By accomplishing a simple task such as making your bed, you will set yourself up to complete other responsibilities throughout the day.
Sleeping and waking with your phone sets you up to be constantly engaged with your phone for the remainder of the day. Try keeping your phone in a separate room. Stop with the excuses of having to use your phone for everything that you do. If you are worried about oversleeping then go old school and buy an alarm clock. Having your phone with you twenty four hours a day will only enable you to constantly be connected and by doing so you will hinder your chance of achieving your goals. I previously stated that the average person checks their phone 157 times daily. This number is simply mind bending! This is just one part of capturing your time back. Imagine if you took a look at all areas of your life. Let’s take just half of the amount of time spent on your phone and apply that number to creating.
Another thing I began implementing into my daily equation, I installed an app called Rescue Time on my laptop. Each week, Rescue Time sends an email detailing where your time was allocated to on the web. The first couple of weeks were just painful to look at. Even though I deleted all of my social apps off my smart phone, I was still looking at social media and scrolling through online garbage. With Rescue Time I was able to start slowly curving the amount of time I put towards productive work and creative research.This meant that I had to tone down the amount of YouTube I consumed along with other social media sites. I am in the process of adding the app on to my phone to start monitoring my time away from the computer better. If you don’t know the numbers you will never improve.
My next step was to find a way to build consistent daily habits. I looked online and came across an article from one of my favorite bloggers ( James Clear, if you know me personally than you have probably heard me speak about his articles) I have even presented two of his blogs into a presentation for my toastmasters club. The two that really stood out and helped me grow and move forward are the 1% theory and the Seinfeld Strategy. Both are excellent reads, the one I recommend you use to getting more consistent with daily habits is the Seinfield strategy, its really simple to implement and the premise is based on developing daily routines, the end goal will be accomplished once the habit is consistent. I have turned a couple of musicians on to this strategy and it has helped them finish multiple projects.
Once you have tweaked your daily schedule to allow you time for creative projects where do you start? This will be subjective as some of you may want to finish that album you started years ago while others will want to finally start a blog. How do we come up with creative ideas? Here is a list of resources that I have implemented into my weekly schedule to help me create new things:
With anything you set out to do, you have to have the two P’s; Passion and Purpose. If you can determine what your two P’s are, you can tweak your habits and start producing meaningful projects that complete you. Remember, in order to create a masterpiece you have to be willing to create a little junk along the way.