Even if you desire to make art your primary career someday, it can be incredibly difficult to fit it into your day. This gets even harder when you factor in adult responsibilities like a day job, children, and other time consuming obligations like looking after an elderly parent. But the desire never leaves; you can’t just let it go. So how in the world can you make time for art when there are already a hundred different things demanding your attention?
Tips for fitting more art into your day
In order to make the art you want to make, you have to prioritize your art time. This seems like a simple and obvious concept, but if you don’t make the conscious decision to prioritize your art, then at the end of a busy day (and if you’re anything like me) you’re likely to putter around checking off a mental to-do list: make school lunches, throw in another load of laundry, pick up the random detritus of life lying around the house, getting distracted with every new room you enter, and before you know it it’s midnight and you’ve certainly been busy… but you’re left unsatisfied.
You have to decide what is most important to you. Until someone invents a way to create more hours in a day, art will have to take the place of something else you’re currently doing. This is a hard pill to swallow in a culture that is obsessed with “doing it all” and being relentlessly busy, but jealously guarding your art making time is a necessary step in this journey. How can you make that happen? Here are some ideas.
Ask your partner/spouse to help you set aside time.
Even if you think it’s clear to everyone else how much your art means to you, don’t expect them to “get it”. Sit down and have a talk where you lay it out plainly: your art is extremely important to you, and will they please support you in your attempt to make time? This might look like agreeing to take on some of your usual tasks once or twice a week whether that’s mowing the lawn or cooking dinner. Or it might look like taking the kids to Grandma’s on a Saturday afternoon so you have peace and quiet to work.
Budget your time and consolidate tasks.
Treat your time like the precious resource that it is, and budget it carefully. Batch your errands together so you’re not spending more time than you need to driving around town. Plan your weekly meals in advance, and only grocery shop once per week.
Delegate things that you don’t absolutely have to do yourself.
Start saying no.
This is much easier if you are time blocking and can point to a greyed-out area on your schedule.
Switch to public transport for your commute and draw or paint on the train or bus.
Set hours that you’re in your studio.
Make it understood to the people you live with that during this time you’re not to be disturbed, and make sure everyone knows those hours and respects them, even if you start with just one hour a week.
Practice conscious decision-making.
Conscious decision-making is simply the art of owning your choices. It’s okay to veg out on the couch with Netflix sometimes- just be sure that you made the conscious choice to spend your time that way, and it’s not just a habit you’re engaging in without thinking. Learn more about this concept in our interview with Jessica Abel.
Block out your time.
Setting aside blocks of time to complete important tasks will ensure that the time you DO save by consolidating errands and delegating tasks is actually used for creating art, and isn’t just frittered away. Learn more about time blocking.
Put together a travel art kit.
If the only free time you can find is 15 minutes waiting in the car for a child to get out of school or during a bus commute, make the most of it by being prepared with a travel art kit. The easier it is to pull it out and immediately start making art in whatever precious few minutes you have, the more likely you are to actually do it. There are an abundance of travel art supplies on the market. Try these:
Travel watercolor set.* With a water brush, a travel watercolor kit doesn’t have to be messy or inconvenient. Sketch in watercolor on the bus or train, waiting to pick your kids up from school or activities, etc.
Travel sketchbook.* Whatever kind of art you create, you’ll benefit from keeping a sketchbook with you at all times, even if it’s just to jot down ideas.
Travel art supply case.* It doesn’t have to be fancy, but a few elastic bands for holding pens or brushes in place are helpful. This one is meant for coloring, but makes a perfect case making any kind of art on the go.
Water brushes.* These handy brushes feature a small reservoir that you fill with water, eliminating the need for a jar of paint water. These are useful for acrylic, watercolor, and even ink washes. Great for keeping in a travel art kit.
Fitting art into your schedule when you have a thousand other demands on your time can feel impossibly hard. But it’s not impossible. It requires intention and mindfulness of your schedule, and a willingness to let some of the less important stuff slide in favor of your art and your art career.
If you’re a busy artist with a lot on your plate, how do you set aside time to make art?
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