Most of my friends are creative people. But I do have the occasional friend or acquaintance whose life is really just 9-to-5 and outside of that their time is their own.
As a creative person, my time is never really my own.
So when I was recently told that I should be able to “find time” to continue to partake in a weekly get together if I really wanted to be there, it got me thinking again about the life of a creative person.
A creative person is almost always working towards something bigger and/or better. A creative person often has a “boring” or at least non-related “day job” in addition to their real career goals.
I’m currently working towards finishing up my BA in English with a minor in Creative Writing and a focus on TV Writing. Additionally, I am Director of the university’s event planning department which often takes up most of my free time between classes. Most days are 8-10 hour days on campus jumping from one thing to another. I also manage to keep up with my doctor-ordered special diet and get to the gym at least four days a week. On top of this, I’ve managed to get straight-As in my more recent terms.
And then I come home and write scripts that may or may not ever get read by anyone.
I don’t have much of a social life. And I’m kind of okay with that.
I’m an introvert by nature and while I’ve learned to be more extroverted over the last few years, my comfort zone is still as an introvert. And with juggling all of the above elements of my life, I need my comfort zone now more than ever.
Now, for my friend who seems to think I can “find time” if I want to, I say “it’s easy when you live alone; it’s easy when your day ends at 5 pm”.
I don’t live alone. I live with SIX other people. So yeah, I get in social time nearly every day if only with my housemates (who are all awesome, by the way).
And I work with people. Awesome people who inspire and encourage me every day.
And I have classmates and other friends on campus who are right there with me in my struggle to juggle school with everything else in my life.
And so if at the end of a long day I don’t feel like spending 3-4 hours with 5-10 people in an enclosed space, then I think I have the right to abstain.
I’d rather have lunch one-on-one with each of those 5-10 people than fight for conversation time in a room full of people.
But I digress….
So how do I get all this done? Well, I’m not going to bore you (too much) with the particulars, but I’ve found a few things that work for me.
1) I wake up earlier than I need to.
Now, I’m a college student and I never take a class that starts earlier than 11am unless I absolutely have to (haven’t had to yet, though). So I don’t really wake up EARLY so much as EARLIER. I wake up at 8am most days. That gives me about 2.5 hours in the morning. If I go in for a workout before class, I wake up at 7:30am and cut short some of my morning ablutions.
What do I do with that time? I take my time getting out of bed. It’s calming. I stretch for about 10 minutes. I make a large, wholesome, filling breakfast. I finish up any last-minute homework if necessary. I read. I sit in front of my “happy lamp”. And yeah, I make myself presentable for the day, but honestly that takes about 15 minutes max. I could theoretically wake up at 10am every day and make it to school with plenty of time. But I’ve found that’s no way to start a day.
Side note: my general “bedtime” for myself is midnight, but I try to get to bed as early as possible once I’ve finished what I need to do for the day. For example, after writing this I will hopefully be in bed by 11pm. If I hadn’t decided to write this, I probably would have been in bed by 10:30pm.
2) There’s no such thing as “later”…unless there is.
Any time I find myself saying I’ll do something “later”, I force myself to actually choose a time. I think into the future, consider my schedule, and if I can’t find a more convenient time to do it, I have to do whatever it is right then. If I can find a more convenient time, then I commit myself to it. This can be as little as taking dishes to the sink to as big as writing a paper that’s due soon.
3) I’m organized.
It’s boring, I know. I have spreadsheets and systems and the “right” way of doing things. But I need these things because otherwise it’s all chaos. I triple check my homework schedule. I clean before I start any work. I prep my workspace with water, pencil, pen, anything I think I’ll need over the next hour or more.
This doesn’t mean my whole life is organized, but the things that get to me the most, the things that are the most immediate…those need to be done and in place before I can get any serious work done.
4) Sometimes I play THEN work.
There’s no point in me trying to get any work done if my favorite show is airing or I’m nearly done with a really great book or I just plain need to rest up. I don’t get quality work done and I end up miserable. There’s a line, a balance, as with everything, but for the most part I let myself do what I need to do to get into work mode.
Once I’m in work mode, I’m pretty flexible. I do what I want to do when I want to do it. I take breaks to read blogs and keep up on twitter. If I’m in a really productive mood I try to do the least fun things first, but for the most part I let my feelings take free rein.
5) I’m not afraid to live mediocre days.
I was recently having a conversation with two of my friends and they both shared that their biggest fear was living a mediocre life. Essentially, they wanted every day to mean something. I told them bluntly “I’m not afraid I’ll live a mediocre life. I know I won’t.”
Which is why some days I allow myself to just lay in bed all day watching TV and reading. I’m not afraid of “wasting” a day because I know it rejuvenates me in a way that allows for future meaningful days and moments. In that way, I probably have more meaningful days than my two friends who are so afraid that they end up not living to the fullest.
Final note: I’m a lazy person. Seriously. I could sit in the same place all day (and often have) and not get bored and not feel like I should be doing something else. I don’t usually like cooking because it’s too much effort for something that needs to be done at least 3 times a day. I am a lazy person, which is why I’ve had to implement the above (as organic or non-organic as they may have been) to ensure that I do get the most out of life.