Dreaming comes easily to me thanks to motherhood. The job of 24 hour parenting plus the endless loads of laundry, dishes, being a transport guru, nurse (and in my case a nurse in my day job), teacher, confidant, snuggle buddy, poop wiper, cook, and potty trainer can take it’s toll on my sanity. There’s only so many times I can chip dried maple syrup off my table without creating a super highway into day dreaming territory. The dreams weave through my consistent, daily routine at a welcomed pace.
But as a creative person, I once struggled with the flip of this. I could dream freely because I was consistent with my necessarily parenting routine, but I had no routine for working towards my dreams.
When I finally found time for myself, I felt lost. What did that character say again? What was that awesome quote I wanted to turn into a tote bag and sell? The random list of cool thoughts assaulted me while I stared at the computer screen. And I didn’t know where to start.
And when I did start, it never seemed to make a difference toward achieving my end goal, whether that be launching a book, dieting, revamping my website, editing photos, or creating a new recipe.
And it was all due to a lack of consistency.
Consistency! My lifeboat as a mother and the only thing that allows me to type “the end” when I complete a novel. A book doesn’t write itself after all. You’ve got to set a schedule and stick to it if you want to write an entire novel in 4-6 weeks.
But when it comes to the stuff that doesn’t make my brain sparkle (lots of glitter bombs going off in my dream land I guess), I used to let things slip.
That is, until I got frustrated with myself. I got sick of saying “Tomorrow I’ll do it.” So I’ve adopted a few tricks to keep myself in balance while taking steps toward making my dreams a reality.
Tips to stay consistent as a creative professional.
- Set office hours. This is a huge one guys. I literally would not be where I’m at without setting these hours. The hours may change depending on the day (I have a rotating work schedule) but I do set specific time aside for writing, professional development (lots of podcast listening while doing dishes), and then specific hours for the admin side of my business.
- Use free tools. I’m all about using a brain board to help me switch from creative mode into admin mode without needing to reset and flinch. Organization does not come naturally to me (not a huge surprise) so believe me when I say I’ve tried every type of to-do app on the planet. Not to mention all the planners I’ve bought! I’ve been known to have over three different calendars, copy the same thing from one to the other to try to constantly keep myself organized. And it’s never worked for me. But then I came up with the idea of creating brain boards. For this, I use a combination of Pinterest and Trello (both free apps). Pinterest is fantastic for creating vision boards (feel free to set them to public or private depending on how close you like to hold your cards to your chest). I’ve used this for character development over the years, snagging the idea of what a character may look like or a logo I love and popping it on a board for inspiration. Recently, I found Trello, and it’s seriously been a Godsend to me! It’s like the mecca of list making but in board format, so it’s easy for me to switch from my Mom board to my business board, seeing all I need to get done on a daily basis.
- Work toward balancing the mess. Have you ever walked into an artists workspace? Seen the desk of an author on a deadline? Let’s just say the space can get out of control and the food in the fridge goes bad, fast. Guys, it sucks to wake up from whatever creative juices you’ve got flowing and realize that your entire environment crumbled while you were away. Within the office hours that you set in #1, make time for a quick clean up. Even ten minutes a day will save you in the long run!
- Take care of yourself. Consistency isn’t born from shoving cupcakes down your throat while you are on a deadline. Yes, this is the registered nurse side of me speaking right now. That cupcake may feel fantastic going down while you are having your epic moment of creative brilliance, but in the long run it’s going to drag you down with it. Far, far down. You really are what you eat, so eat well. And get outside and walk. Better yet, do high intensity interval training (burn off some of that creative anxiety!). Also take time for prayer, meditation, and yoga. My greatest creative strides have come during moments of my life where I focus on my health and wellness.
- Get Perspective. This is a painful one to put yourself through, but it’s necessary. Give yourself a performance review. (Ouch! I know!). Are you meeting your goals? Are you showing up to work on time? What are you adding toward your business? What are you struggling with? What are you enjoying? How can you improve? I do this a few times a week right now to keep myself on track (I’m in major creative mode and I really need this, especially to keep my family life stable!). It’s not a fun process, but it keeps it all in perspective so I can meet my end goals while maintaining a balanced life.
- Get Help. Do you hate doing graphic design? Find a virtual assistant who loves it (check out freelance.com). Is it impossible to accomplish anything with three kids interrupting every 12 seconds? Yes, yes it is. So guess what? I ask people to watch the kids or I have the kids watch themselves while I knock out a half an hour of work (watch themselves as in they play in the basement or backyard while I work from my office within ear shot). Do what you have to do make things work. I know there are excuses, because I’ve told them all to myself. Sometimes you can’t get perfect, but good is usually good enough. So take those good opportunities to stay consistent. When you do, you’ll start seeing movement toward making your dreams realities in ways you’ve never experienced before.
- Use the time you are given. I hate to break it to you, but being creative doesn’t mean you get to sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. It actually means the opposite. You take the time you are given and make things happen, even when you don’t feel like it. You paint the darn word art you’ve been contracted to make, even though you’d rather veg out on the couch and watch Stranger Things. To hell with the idea of waiting for your muse to strike. Guess what? It won’t happen. It’s a myth. Sure, some days creativity will be easier, but usually it’s hard work. Remembering that and respecting the time you are given will take you far!