Once upon a time, in childhood and high school, my days stretched out like weeks and my weeks stretched out like months, and a summer vacation was like a year. I had endless hours to play with my art and be creative, and time moved slowly in a good way as I discovered the world and my own creativity. I had little responsibility and that left my mind free as a bird to think, dream, and create.
As an adult, things can get more complicated as you add a day job, taking care of your home, exercising, eating right, making time for friends, family and relationships, paying the bills, not to mention creating art and making time to explore and doodle creatively, which to me is what makes interesting art eventually. All of this together can be a lot–and at the end of the day, it can be intimidating to sit down and figure out your next great masterpiece. It’s a lot of pressure! Not only that, but art takes time, and if you’re already busy sustaining your life, sometimes it can feel like you don’t have the time to make the quality of art you are capable of.
Something that has helped me in particularly busy seasons is the concept of time boxing. Time boxing is the very simple but powerful idea of picking one task, and doing that task with complete focus and attention, for a certain amount of time. During this set amount of time, you are not allowed to answer the phone, look at your schedule book, do the dishes, text someone, surf the web, look at Facebook, Instagram, fix yourself a sandwich, clean up the room, or do any other interruption. Your mind is only allowed to focus on that one task. Here are some examples:
- For twenty minutes, sketch out of your imagination in your sketchbook.
- For one hour, work on a painting.
- For ten minutes, write your artistic career goals and ways to accomplish them
- For 30 minutes, take pictures of your recent artwork and upload them to your website.
- For 20 minutes, read an inspirational book about an artist or person you admire.
- For 20 minutes, take a walk around the block and notice the colors and scenery.
You will be surprised at the amount that you can get done in a short amount of time when you are extremely focused. The magic in it is that there is a defined time period for the intense focus, which gives your brain a deadline and a goal. And when it’s done, there’s relief and a sense of accomplishment. And if you’re an artist at heart, you won’t let a long time pass without having the urge to be creative in some way, even if you’re busy with other things. As Lera Auerbach says in her book Excess of Being, “True passion does not care for validation.”