nurturing creativity: how do you spend your days?

I used to structure my days in such a way that I did all my "important" work in the mornings. The work I deemed "important" in this sense was business correspondence, marketing work, production work, work for others, billable hours. The time that was "left over" I spent on creative work, and on the rare occasion that there was still more time "left over," I would spend it on self-care.

This isn't surprising - it's how we are trained by our society to structure our time.

The problem is, with this structure,
my business wasn't thriving, and neither was I.

So I did the logical thing - I tried to fix myself so I could fit better into this structure.

Still my business wasn't thriving, and neither was I.

Sometime during the last six months, as I moved through many transformations,
I realized why:

1. Success depends on creativity
2. I was living on leftovers
3. I needed to re-define "important."

So I tried an experiment: I turned my workday upside-down. I started with self-care in the morning, then moved on to creative work. With whatever time was leftover, I tackled administrative and production tasks.

Guess what?

It's working.

I'm not saying this was an easy shift. I'm still working on it, and it's hard. Why is it hard? Not because I'm not getting my "work" done - in fact, I think I'm more productive. No. It's hard because of the VOICES IN MY HEAD.

I'm not talking DSM-III certifiable voices. I'm talking about the ones we all have to some degree or another - some call this the "inner critic," but I think that's way too gentle a term for this inner whatever that seems to derive pleasure from shaming and sabotaging me.

The upside? I get to come face to face with the inner patterns that have kept me from my best work and my best life, because girl they get LOUD for a while when you start to shift in the direction of your dreams.

Anyway, I've spent the last little while refining the pattern of my days:

Every work day I spend my mornings on creative work, and I allow myself to jump from one thing to the next, because for me, this is an important element of creativity. I might write a blog post, do some graphic design for my websites, work on a new tile design, research imagery for sculpture, browse jewelry materials online for inspiration, or go for a photo excursion. (Or take photos of the gorgeous bunches of peonies I brought home the other day!) All these things are FUN, and all of them move my business forward - wow, who knew?

Every afternoon, I give the inner critic some satisfaction by spending disciplined time taking care of the nuts and bolts of life and business; finances, emails, marketing, coding, or glazing 500 of the same tile. And I'll tell you this - I enjoy these aspects of my work sooo much more now that I don't feel resentful that they're pulling me away from the work I love.

So how can YOU apply this principle of putting creativity and self-care FIRST?
(And NO, this principle is NOT just for people who are self-employed, people who are artists, people with grown kids, people who live on islands, people with their own studios, other people - YES I can hear your excuses for not putting creativity and self-care FIRST in your own life.)

Maybe you can't turn your whole day upside down like I did, but I know there are baby steps you can make towards prioritizing creativity and self-care.

Did you hear that part? It's important. I said
I know there are baby steps you can make today towards prioritizing creativity and self-care.

Tell me one baby step you'll take today in the comments or on my new Facebook Page.

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