Creating something: how hard can it be?
Some people make it sound like the easiest thing in the world. “Well, just make something! You have plenty of ideas, right? Why don’t you act on one of these?”
And I thought exactly the same. I have so many ideas, why don’t I just execute one?
Yet, despite all those amazing (and not-so-amazing) plans, most of the days I still end up making nothing.
Instead, it feels like I’m running around the entire day without accomplishing anything meaningful.
What’s going on??
When trivial decisions start taking over the day…
As I started looking at it more closely, I realized I was spending a lót of time and energy on trivial decisions.
Like what to have for lunch. Whether to get some chicken out of the freezer for tomorrow. And what the heck to work on. Marketing? Administration? Practicing my writing? The choices are endless!
And that’s because I lack routine. My mornings are pretty set-in-stone. But from lunch onwards it’s absolute mayhem, and indecision starts taking over my day.
Routine: the way to save brainpower
Sounds familiar? The pandemic surely hasn’t made keeping up a routine much easier.
However, it’s vital if you want to do well at those things that matter. And that’s because they help you cut back on decisions. By operating on autopilot for most of the day, you can save your energy for the important stuff.
Like being creative! Which requires brainpower. You need to:
- Use your imagination
- Think of different possibilities
- Make choices…
And especially at some moments it can get incredibly frustrating. That’s when you need all that energy to pull through and continue finishing that shitty thing you started on.
Next to that, the creative process itself can benefit a lot from a routine. The array of choices at your disposal can seem never ending and overwhelming. The risk? Getting stuck in contemplating different options rather than acting on one. Which is where most of my ideas get stuck.
That’s why routine is so essential and useful. It takes away many of those small choices that can sap our energy, both in our lives and the creative process itself. And that enables us to give our full energy and focus to those things we truly want to excel at
But how to create a routine when there’s so little structure to our days?
A routine can be pretty hard to come by right now.
Out-of-house activities have fallen away, we do our work in our PJs (except for when that Zoom call comes on).
Natural “boundaries” are gone, and instead, we’re left with this big wash of time… Needing to make decisions in it, somehow, on what we’re going to do next.
My days have been wildly unstructured for sure!
After lunch, it’s complete chaos. And I spend most of my time wondering what to make for lunch, eating it, what to work on next, and what to have for second lunch.
And starting as a freelancer hasn’t made it much easier for me. It’s a constant figuring out what to do next.
So how to apply some routine when our days seem so unstructured?
Why I decided to focus on building habits
I’ve tried a couple of things to apply some structure to my days.
Like time blocking my calendar:
- From 9 to 10: blogging!
- From 10 to 11: copywriting!
- From 11 to 12: marketing!
- 12: LUNCH.
But, as soon as one activity took longer, my whole schedule came tumbling down, and my day fell back into chaos. (Plus, lunch places don’t open before 1pm here.)
I’ve also tried setting up reminders on my phone: “8pm drawing time!” But usually I was too caught up in something else to pay much attention, and swiping away the notification all too quickly became a habit.
That’s why I started with the Tiny Habits method by BJ Fogg. Building routines by attaching small habits onto existing ones. And from there on, building a *sorta* structure, so I can at least get something done each day.
Now, there’s a lót more to the Tiny Habits framework that makes it so brilliant, but that warrants its own blog post. (Or just read the book!)
So, what decisions can you automate?
For now, my advice is: take a good look at your routine if you’ve found yourself “running around while getting nothing done”.
What small choices are you making each day that you can automate? How can you “build” creative habits into your routine, so you won’t even have to think about practicing them?
What small habits do you already have in your life that you could “paste” these new habits onto? And make them small enough that nothing has to stop you from executing them?
Because routine is important, also for being creative! Creativity does not thrive in chaos. (At least not for me.)
If you have any experiences or tips to share on how you went about bringing more routine into your pandemic days, let me know!
And if you want to know more about the Tiny Habits approach just shoot me a message. Have become a bit of an evangelist, so will gladly tell you more!