Time Savers for Busy Artists
…or anyone who’s crunched for time really. Since going back to work full-time, I’m learning to manage my time better to make more time for art and writing. It’s not easy! I know that plenty of other artists may have children or other commitments on top of a full-time job, so learning to use our time wisely is paramount to our creative work.
I’m still figuring this out as I go, but I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far:
- Always make time for self-care: This might seem like the opposite of saving time, but if I blow off my daily walk, journaling, or sleep, my energy plummets and I end up wasting a lot more time because my body and mind are dragging. It’s worth it to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep, a daily walk, and some journaling in the morning or evening. Find out what you need to keep your batteries charge and make that your number one priority. Everything else will follow.
- Streamline food prep: My two tools for this are batch cooking and the almighty crockpot. Each weekend or whenever I have time, I boil a dozen eggs or so, roast some veggies, maybe cook up some beans, and prep anything else I’ll need to assemble quick meals and snacks throughout the week. The crockpot is my best friend lately. I use it for making bone broth, beans, soup, and most dinners during the week, which turn into leftovers for lunches. It can be as simple as a chicken breast and some salsa on low for eight hours, and I just throw it in a tortilla when I get home. Done.
- Consolidate errands: Instead of running a bunch of isolated errands throughout the week, I do them all at once on the shortest route possible. If I have library books to return, I’ll do my grocery shopping at the store across the street and run any other errands I have in that part of town, like post office runs or picking up art supplies. If I need to put my husband’s check in the bank, I’ll shop at that grocery store and buy my cousin’s wedding gift at the Shopko next door. I try to do only one errand run every week.
- Know your priorities: I have a wash and wear haircut and my makeup routine takes about ninety seconds. I don’t waste time styling my hair or doing smoky cat eyes, because it’s not on my priority list. I don’t spend much time on Facebook, I don’t watch TV, and I wash my hair every other day. Know what’s important to you and what’s not. Cut out the rest.
- Streamline housework: Keep a container of Lysol wipes in the bathroom and wipe everything down once or twice a week after your shower. This keeps things looking clean for longer between thorough cleaning. Take one morning or even every other week or so to dust, mop the kitchen floor, and run a vacuum. If you have higher housekeeping standards than this, that’s fine, but be willing to sacrifice more of your creative time.
- Use cash: This is also a handy budgeting tips. Remove set amounts of cash for groceries, entertainment, and other expenses. This way, you can see how much you have to spend, and since that money is already accounted for, that’s less time balancing the checkbook and keeping track of the budget. Maybe not much time, but when I actually do this, it saves me money and brain space.
- Learn to use little spare minutes: Eight minutes before work to read a few pages, 30 seconds lulls at work for some deep breathing, ten minutes to collage something onto a painting. You don’t have to fill every second with activity, but rather learn to appreciate the spare minutes.
Time is a gift. This isn’t the busiest I’ve ever been, not by a long shot, but being busy teaches me how to appreciate my time really learn to take care of myself, to discipline myself to think clearly and understand what’s important to me. I don’t have children. I only have one job that takes 40 hours of my time every week. I don’t go to school. I could have a lot less time on my hands, and sometimes I feel weak for struggling with what I do have. True, winter is a rough season for me and things seem a lot harder right now, and I’m still adjusting, I’m trying to start my art career, and it’s a lot for me.
Do what you can do, and feel good about it. Time is precious, no matter how much or how little you have.