Ah, adulthood. You wait your entire childhood to get there, and suddenly you wake up and you’re in your mid-thirties with bills to pay wondering what the hell you’ve been doing for the past um-teen years…
As an artist, it’s so hard to stay motivated sometimes. I frequently find myself on the verge of “selling everything and living in a VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!” And not because I hate my job or anything, I actually enjoy my work, it’s just easy to get in the “eff this” mentality when there’s a song or a painting that I’d much rather be working on. The little obnoxious artist in me is always demanding my attention. So how do we appease the little obnoxious artist while still being a functional member of society all while maintaining a healthy level of happiness? Here are some things that worked for me.
1: Plan Your Week Out Ahead Of Time.
First things first. You HAVE to make a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Being predominantly right-brained, I know that the word “schedule” sounds like a dirty word, but it seriously helps. Now, everybody has a scheduling system that works better for them, but for me personally, buying a physical planner and writing things down worked best. For whatever reason, seeing my plans in my own handwriting reminds me of how hopeful I am to accomplish my goals and motivates me to get moving so as not to let myself down. I then sync my written Calendar with a to-do-list on my phone and my handy dandy apple watch reminds me all day to get off my butt! And I have gotten to a point where I write down everything. Personal plans & goals, work schedule, painting plans, you name it, I’m putting it in there. 6:30 yoga, 9am- finish wireframes for client, 11am production meeting, 5:30 – 7:30 painting time, etc… I even write down “WATER” just to remind myself that I need it.
Why does this help? Well, first of all, it gives me something to look forward to while I’m working. I know that if I can just finish this website or proposal, I can get down in my studio and work on my song or painting. It also prevents me from falling into a Netflix coma after work. It’s so easy to procrastinate after a long work-day, having a set schedule helps me get off my butt and do the things I want to do.
2: Make the time for friends.
As you get older, it’s easy to blow off dinner dates or drinks out with friends. As you’re building out your planner, it’s SUPER important to make room for time with your friends and actually commit to them. Spending an evening laughing and not thinking about work or bills or laundry is good for your mental health. After we hit our thirties, my husband and I became complete home bodies. While there’s nothing wrong with spending a weekend at home curled up on the couch, we made a pretty bad habit out of blowing off plans and curling up on the couch every single weekend. It was a girls weekend get-away that changed that for me. I came back from the trip rejuvenated and ready to take on the world. After that trip, we started dedicating at least one weekend night per month to our friends.
3: Stop Sleeping In.
Sleep is effing awesome. I love to sleep. Those couple snooze button hits in the morning are pure bliss. But if you’re finding yourself without enough time in the day to do the things you love – well, you’re not going to be happy with your life.
If you noticed my planner, you’ll have seen that I start my plans early in the day. Dedicating a little time for myself in the morning, whether its just for yoga or a quick hour of paint-time, makes my whole day that much more enjoyable. Not only that, but it motivates me to continue after the work day is done. I look forward to adding a chorus to my song or finishing the painting I started.
I work from home, which you would think would make it easier to squeeze these things in, but before I started doing this, I would close my laptop and plop on the couch. Painting or singing in the morning changed everything about my evenings. I couldn’t wait to close the laptop and keep working on my art!
4: Drink Water & Squeeze in a work-out.
That seems stupid, right? It’s not. Most of us don’t drink nearly the amount of water we should, and as a result, we get the brain fog that leads to the evening Netflix coma. Trade the second (or in my case 3rd) cup of coffee for a glass of water and keep filling it up throughout the day. The more you drink, the more your body will crave it, and you’ll just feel better/happier. If you can squeeze in a half-hour workout somewhere in the day (I do mine first thing in the morning and during lunch), you’ll get that little bit of extra energy to keep your creative juices flowing long after the work day is over.
5: Enjoy Your Work.
For me, I found a creative career, and even working in the creative field, there are days when I have to talk myself off a ledge. You have to enjoy your work. If you can’t find joy in it, you need to find a different job! I write down the things I’m excited to accomplish in my work day and get excited to finish them! Find joy where you can in your work day. For me, just writing down the goals and checking them off made my work day better. I also developed stronger relationships with my co-workers and actually look forward to asking them about their weekends or chit chatting about whatever we’re working on.
6: Take Time For Yourself.
Lastly, schedule me-days as frequently as you can. Once every other month or so, I schedule a PTO day just for myself. I plan a whole day at home to write music or focus on a painting. This is like a reboot for me. I can then return to work feeling accomplished and the little artist in my head shuts up for a bit.