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How to Find Time to Make Art When You Have a Day Job

As artists, we often lead a double life. We seek refuge in the steady source of income a day job provides to fuel our art careers. But although a “regular” job takes some stress out of having to support ourselves, it comes with challenges.

For starters, studies show we spend a third of our lives at work and another third asleep, leaving little time for other pursuits, including our art.

Key to squeezing in the best hours for our art is a plan that needs practice. Before we overwhelm you, let’s get down to the details.

Dedicate Your Peak Creative Hours

Pick a window of time when your distractions are minimal, and your energy tends to be high. Some of us work best before dawn, others at night. Finding what works for you and sticking to it is a great way to build a creative routine.

Remember, more hours doesn’t mean better art. Instead, dedicate the hours that blend high energy with your best focus.

A single hour alone may often produce more than several hours with distractions. Sacrificing that late-night talk show to get to sleep earlier can allow you to get up an hour earlier to make art while others snooze. Or just skip the show and make late-night art. Maybe experiment and see which works better for you—perhaps mornings in summer, nights in winter.

Practice the Art of Saying “No”

In a world plagued by FOMO, practice the art of turning down a dinner date or a party night to stay back and make art. The goal shouldn’t be to shun other activities altogether. Rather, to find the discipline that allows you to be selective with such pursuits.

Great artists have discipline at the forefront of their careers. Speaking to Artnet News, American visual artist George Condo admits to faking out-of-town notices. He says, “I just put an out-of-office reply on my email address. Usually, I just pick random dates for when I supposedly will be back.”

Create an Enticing Environment

It may seem like creativity appears out of thin air, but your environment plays a substantial role in getting your creative gears in full swing.

Start by dedicating a place to make art. When you walk into this space, it should help set the mood right off the bat.

For tried-and-tested ideas on desk, furniture and equipment arrangements, consider visiting other artists’ spaces.

Build Your Creative Muscle

Building body muscles takes dedicated and frequent practice. So does strengthening creative muscles.

Don’t wait for inspiration to strike! Instead, work on your art daily (without beating yourself up for missing a day) and pick up pace. This can significantly improve the quality of your art, and also reduce the time it takes to get it done.

Shafeeka Hafeez

Shafeeka Hafeez grew up escaping into a world of books where she discovered a love for writing and a fascination with trees. When she’s not taking up a new marketing skill, or typing out a blog post, you can find her Googling the best therapy for abandoned cats.

June 4, 2021

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