One hundred and sixty-eight hours. That’s all the time we have in a given week. Those hundred and sixty-eight hours have to include sleeping, eating, commuting, working, loving, time with family, social time. It also has to include your artistic practice, all the elements of it.
There is the craft side of your practice. That includes classes, rehearsing, auditioning, writing, editing, creating. There’s the community side of your practice, and that includes going to see other people’s work, participating in community events, reaching out to folks who understand your path. And then there’s the business side of your practice. That can include networking and pitching your work. Or it can include working on a project, using skills that aren’t part of your current Skill set so that requires learning those skills, more time.
Time feels different depending on what you’re doing. Doing your taxes, for example, can make minutes feel like hours. But rehearsing, practicing, writing, learning a new routine? Those hours fly by like minutes.
But here’s the thing. All of it fits into those hundred sixty-eight hours, or has to. Like so many others, I juggle several different things in order to make my life work. I have book deadlines, Your Ladders work to do, teaching, book promotion, and time with family and friends that all need to fit into my week. Additionally, I’ve come to realize that I need to be intentional about scheduling rest time, exercise, and make sure that I get enough sleep.
Many years ago I took “what matters most”, a Franklin Covey class that helped me reframe my priorities. But even so, there aren’t enough hours in the week. Not unless I plan.
Here’s what I do to be more intentional about making time for the things that do matter to me.
First of all, Make a list of all the things you need to do, and try to estimate the time they take. Make this a brain dump. Include grocery shopping, cleaning the house, commuting, rehearsing, performing, writing, working, getting the kids places, date nights, exercise, sleeping — everything.
Next, Take a piece of paper and make seven columns, and twenty-four rows. Those are your hundred and sixty-eight hours. Block out the timeFor each of the activities you listed. Where are there gaps on your schedule?
If you don’t have gaps, can you shift some things around to create them? Remember to include time to rest, not just to sleep. I always find that if I’m too busy all the time, the creation part of my brain stops functioning. A walk, baking, knitting, something like that often refusals me. Make sure to include refueling time for yourself.
What’s on your list that you don’t want to do, that doesn’t serve you? Here’s what I mean by that. You may not want to go grocery shopping, but you need to eat. It does serve you. But do you have a time commitment that you don’t like, that doesn’t serve you, that you dread? Do you have to do it? Can you outsource it, or do it once a month instead of once a week?
When you’re looking at your calendar, remember that no is a complete sentence. Often, too often, we try to be people pleasers and say yes to everything. You may not be able to see every show, go to every reading, go to every book event that you’re invited to. You may need to be more intentional about what you say yes to, and cut down on the yeses. You may need to make choices, and make your artistic practice a bigger priority.
Now, can you make appointments for yourself to add to your artistic practice? Two hours to take the class? An hour to work on your website? Three hours to read a new play, or to learn a new song? If you put these times on your calendar, what can you do to ensure that you’ll honor those commitments?
A friend reminded me yesterday that writing, or any artistic practice, is a muscle that needs to be worked out regularly. Often we wait until the perfect moment, or until we have enough time. But there’s never enough time. Make the time, however much you can, and honor that commitment.
Remember that no one cares as much about your artistic practice is you do, and you need to take care of yourself and your practice.
I’ve created she’d to help you get started on the hundred and sixty-eight hours. I can’t recommend making appointments on your calendar enough. It’s made a world of difference for me, though I found that I need to build in more time between stopping one activity and starting another. So I’ve been blocking longer periods of time, when possible, to stay focused and that’s made a lot of difference as well.
Go to this website to download the worksheet I just told you about. And remember, those hundred and sixty-eight hours or gift. Make them count.
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