Every day we do battle against obstacles when it comes to being creative. At the end of a long day of juggling work, friends and family, the creative warrior sits down to think and can barely even come up with an idea for dinner tonight. Perhaps you are choosing the wrong time of day to focus! Not all of us can wake up at the crack of dawn to create, so how do we know we aren’t sleeping through the time of day when our creative juices are really flowing? These are a few tips and tricks that will help you find the time to be your peak creative self, while still finding time to catch some Zzz’s!
1. Do the opposite of the expected
Research shows that the time we are most creative may not be the time when we are most awake. When studying people at their optimal (all systems go!) and non-optimal (sleep central) times, researchers found that people were better at insight problem solving (the type of problem that requires a leap into unknown territory) at non-optimal times. This meant that morning larks were better at coming up with ideas at night, whereas night owls found their eureka moments during the early hours. The reason for this was that the participants benefitted from the distraction of their tired brains, which couldn’t filter out new ideas in their inactive states. So perhaps rethink that java while working in your local coffee shop!
2. Listen to your body
Do you find yourself crashing at 4:30pm, looking for whatever chocolate/caffeine/Facebook fix to keep you going? It’s possible that your circadian rhythms are working against you. Circadian rhythms are triggered by our internal clocks to regulate the timing of wakefulness within our bodies. Since analytical problems (problems that have steps to a conclusion, like planning a party) are best solved when you are most awake, determine what needs to get done with your project based on your natural clock.
3. Keep a journal
In the book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends doing three pages of stream-of-conscious writing early in the morning to unlock your creativity. “What they do is clear your mind as though you have taken a dust buster and you go poking it into all the corners of your consciousness and you come up with what you put on the page,” she says on her website. This brain dump allows you to free up your mind from your everyday life to tap into the ideas that have taken a backseat to your responsibilities. Whether you write in the morning or not, a journal can provide the best way to see when ideas are flowing and when they are stunted. Perhaps you noticed that there are times when your mind is overwhelmed with the trivial chores of the day. Focus your creative times when you feel most free to daydream.
4. Notice when you are busiest
Have you ever sat down to finish a project when all of a sudden you remember that you forgot to walk the dog? You get up to do a chore, and the next thing you know, you are on your knees scrubbing the spot you just noticed on your bathroom floor. When you are trying to be creative, it is best to find a time when you can really focus on your work. Don’t pick a time where you will be worried about an errand you have to run later or a patch of dust in your apartment. If you get an idea on paper, you won’t care what your kitchen looks like anyway (unless you have company coming over).
5. Schedule “Creative Appointments”
Just as you would schedule a doctor’s appointment or a brunch date in your calendar, you should schedule times during the week when you will sit down and create. If creativity is important to you, then make it a priority just like those appointments! Change up what times these are and make a note of how much you accomplished and how you felt. Did you come up with new ideas or were you sluggish and slow? Did you make a dent in a project or did you barely accomplish anything? Reschedule your office hours as needed. Your creativity’s calendar should be very full and in demand!
Go ahead and leave a comment about how you found what time of day works for you!