Are you living your best artistic life? Chances are if you have to ask yourself, you probably aren’t. A lot of creatives aren’t sure how to optimize their time and their productivity, and that’s okay — it’s a learning process that takes a lot of experimentation. What you need to ask yourself is this: When are you most productive? How do you generate ideas? And, perhaps most importantly, what does your life look like outside of your creative work?
Here’s our 10-step guide to living your best artistic life.
1. Set up an organized workspace
As a young creative, I always made the mistake of working in the wrong places — namely, my own bed. Mixing your leisure spaces with your creative spaces can actually hinder your productivity and make it harder to relax in your downtime. Instead, create a workspace solely meant for you to work on your create pursuits and fill it with things that inspire you, whether that be books, wall art, or even just plants. Just be sure to keep it organized — nothing clutters the mind more than a cluttered workspace!
2. Create a daily routine
Maybe you’re used to working on your projects whenever you have time. Maybe you go days without working on them at all. It’s harder to meet deadlines — personal or professional ones — if you don’t have a set routine. Figure out a time of the day where you usually have downtime and start scheduling that as the time you work on your projects. Some people find they work best in the morning, before others wake up; some prefer working later at night. It doesn’t particularly matter when you decide to schedule your work time as long as you keep it consistent. Treat that time as an obligation to work on your creative craft, not just free time when you might work on your stuff.
3. …With plenty of breaks
Make sure to schedule short, intermittent breaks throughout your work time to give yourself the opportunity to step back from your projects for a moment. This will help keep you from growing overwhelmed or frustrated with your work and will allow you to come back to the project with a fresh perspective. Take a walk, color in a coloring book, walk away from what you’re doing completely — and then come back to it, ready to buckle down and get things done.
4. Go offline
One of my biggest distractors is my computer and my phone. When I’m getting nonstop texts and Instagram notifications, it’s hard to stay focused; when I start feeling uninspired, it’s difficult to keep myself from logging on Twitter and outstaying my welcome. When you’re working on your creative projects, turn your phone onto airplane mode or leave it in another room completely — the social world can wait. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll get done without the distractions.
5. Keep a creative journal
While we tend to lean on technology to store information, I’ve always loved writing my thoughts down in pen. Creative journals are a great place to store ideas or write down inspirational quotes that might motivate you later. Carry it with you throughout the day to use whenever creativity strikes, whether that’s on your commute or in the middle of the work day. That way, when you’re stuck in a creative slump, you can go back and see all your great ideas and hopefully inspire yourself to move forward.
6. Surround yourself with creative people
They say creativity breeds creativity, and for good reason. Seeing someone thrive artistically — and seeing how much work they put in for that success — will inspire you to throw yourself into your creative pursuits. Creative people are the best people to bounce your ideas off of or to turn to when you’re experiencing a particularly awful creative block. They’re also the best people to talk about your goals with, because they know exactly where you’re coming from and will be the best hype man of all. Building a community of like-minded individuals will motivate you to live your best artistic life, because everyone around you is doing the same.
7. Channel your creativity into different parts of your life
Creativity doesn’t have to end with your work. Implement it into all parts of your life — in the way your decorate your home, in the recipes you cook, in how you choose to spend your free time. Take up a dance class. Learn how to knit. Even try channeling it into the way you problem solve professionally and in traditionally non-creative environments. The more creative you are in your everyday life, the more inspired you’ll be in your artistic life.
8. Implement balance into your life
One of the most important parts of an artistic life is balance. While it may be easy to get swept away in your projects and spend all your free time working on them, it’s important to know when to step back and immerse yourself back into the real world. It’s unhealthy to spend all your time working, and when you’re actually passionate about the work, it’s easy to get swept up in it. If someone invites you out, go out. Make sure to keep up with your chores. Schedule doctors appointments when necessary, exercise often, and meet up with friends every now and then. When you’re in a physically and mentally healthy place, you’re more likely to thrive artistically.
9. Don’t just talk about your ideas — put them into action
As an artist, you probably have a lot of great ideas that you want to express to your friends, your family, or your peers. It’s easy to talk the talk, but a lot harder to actually walk the walk. Instead of just building up your ideas in your head, jump into your project. Do the work. Fully-fleshed ideas are important, but they don’t mean much if you aren’t going to move forward and actually turn them into a reality. You may not know exactly where to start, but just start somewhere — fill in the gaps as you go.
10. Put your work out into the world
As a creative, it’s honestly pretty scary to show others your work. Art is often something incredibly personal and intimate — after all, it’s a creation all of your own. But don’t let your fear of criticism or rejection stop you from sharing your art with the world. People won’t always like what you make, and that’s fine. Either use their opinions as constructive criticism or recognize that not everyone will like your work and move on. You’ll never grow as an artist if you keep your work under lock and key. Let the world revel in the beautiful things you create.