To be creative, we need to have time and space to allow our minds to wander, expand, and go off in random directions. Of course, that's a hard thing to do these days, as we have so many things constantly vying for our attention. What that means is that we have to learn to be really strict with ourselves. If creative time is indeed important to us, and something that we'd like to bring to the forefront in our lives, than we have to make time for it. Blocking it off is the first and most important thing you can do. Write it in your calendar and treat it like you would any other meeting or appointment. It is arguably the most important appointment of your day. 

Hopefully the time you have found for yourself is also your most creative time of the day--for example, many of us think most clearly and have the most energy first thing in the morning. If that's the case, then grab your cup of coffee and head straight to your work area. Do not check your email, do not scroll through Instagram. This time is blocked off for your mind to focus, for your creativity to have a chance to flow in. If you check your email, chances are you'll get distracted and think that confirming your dentist appointment is most important thing you could do. It's not. Almost all of your emails can wait until you take your lunch break. 

In the book Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, Cal Newport suggests starting with small blocks of focused creative time (an hour at first), and building those up incrementally by 15 minutes every week or two. The key is never to allow distraction. Once you give in to checking your phone, you should cancel the whole block and start over. It's a great way to build discipline. 

Another tip he suggests is having one focused task to do during that time. If you are writing an article, do all your research ahead of time so that when you sit down, all you have to do is write. Same thing goes for starting a new painting or designing a poster. Gather all your research, source material, visual inspiration, and tools ahead of time so that when you sit down you can dive right in.

Stay focused, artists. We need you.

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