Being routinely creative
It might seem like creativity would flourish best in the absence of any constraining routine. In fact, the opposite is true: Having a routine is very useful for protecting your creativity.
Most people have the outline of a routine provided for them--they get up, they go to work or school, they come home, they go to bed. This sort of rhythm provides a useful constraint on your routine--perhaps you shower before work, run errands on the way home, mow the lawn on the weekend. If you're going to do any sort of creative work, you need to carve out a chunk of time somewhere in that schedule. That isn't easy, but at least it's clear what you need to do.
If you don't have a schedule imposed by something external (such as school or a job), you might imagine that you're in a superior position to give your creativity free rein. For most people, though, it doesn't work out that way.
Everybody has certain things that they need to do--pay the bills, buy the groceries, run the errands, etc. The problem is, there's no limit to those sorts of activities--they will grow to fill all your time, if you don't put limits on them yourself.
If you don't have a work schedule to constrain them for you, it's very easy to let things that have to get done eat the time available for your creative pursuits.
The solution is a routine. Just like someone with a job, allocate chunks of time for the things that have to be done, then prioritize.
There are two keys:
First, be sure to schedule a chunk of time for your creative work. It doesn't need to be a lot--it doesn't take a lot of time to be creative. Like everything else, if you allocate more time (and put it to good use), you can get more done. But also like everything else, you pretty quickly run into diminishing returns--you won't get twice as much done in six hours as you can in three, or even twice as much in two hours as in one (although large chunks of time do have a magic all their own).
Second, be sure to restrict the "things that have to get done" to the time allotted for them. Since they "have to get done," it's easy to let them encroach on the time you've set aside for other tasks. Don't let that happen. Make sure that you've got enough time to get the truly necessary things done (such as paying your bills), prioritize the other items, and ruthlessly defer anything that would spill over.
Whether you have the outline of a routine provided for you (by something like a job, school, or family obligations), or you have to create the entire routine for yourself, having one is the only way to ensure that you can get both your creative work and the ordinary chores of daily living done.
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