Procrastination. Task avoidance. Snoozebuttoning. Startitis. OOOOOH new shiny thing!
Transparency, y’all. Those five right there are kicking my ass and they’re alllll on me.
If you’re trying to have a crafty business or heck, just get through life and have time for crafting, you might be wresting with one (or more) of these, too.
I’m not going to go all planner bootcamp life coachy here because that’s SO not my thing. I’m sharing my journey because I know if I’m struggling to find time to get creative, someone else out there is, too.
Are you one of those people? This post is for you.
(No I’m not asking you to sign up for a newsletter so you can download it and then start getting a pile of marketing emails from me. I hate that. I’m just doing this because I like helping people find time to make stuff.)
Before you read on, fair warning: This is a long post. Go grab a cuppa or a cocktail and maybe a snack. 😉
I originally intended to do a quick planner review update. After taking a hard look at the past month, I realized the planner is the least important thing happening. The planner is helpful, but it’s not going to get me on track unless I kick a few bad habits.
Let’s start with the Big Happy Planner and how I’ve been using it.
I’ve been using my Big Happy Planner for about a month and a half and I LOVE it. But I gotta be honest: I’m still riding the struggle bus and my struggle bus has three flat tires.
It’s not the planner’s fault.
It’s my fault.
So first I’m going to talk about the planner situation, then I’m going to talk about the bad habits I’ve identified, and lastly I’m going to talk about the steps I’m taking to find more time in the day for crafting.
I hope it helps you start to sort things out, too! This is going to be a monthly feature here on the blog so if you want to keep learning with me, sign up for my mailing list! (I promise I’m not selling something – this is mostly a crafty crochet sort of blog!)
The Monthly Spread
The monthly spread in the beginning of each month is awesome. I’ve been using it to plan my crafty editorial calendar. It provides a look ahead at what I need to be working on now for later in the month.
HA! Great idea in theory, but poorly executed on my part.
The posts that actually got done are highlighted:
(Pardon the lousy photo, I was planning in bed and was too lazy to go make a nice picture. Transparency haha!)
So I have a ton of ideas. This is a good thing! But the problem is I can’t find time to execute them.
The monthly spread has more than enough space to jot down whatever notes I want to make about my editorial calendar. I also make notes about events/contests my favorite brands are doing so I remember to participate.
I’ve also been noting appointments for the upcoming months on these pages. I only keep six months of weekly pages in my planner at one time, so this is useful for far future planning.
The Weekly Spread
The weekly spread has been a HUGE improvement over the two-pages-per-day calendar I used for over a decade. Knowing what I’ve got going on for the whole week has been a game changer. It prevents Friday morning surprises like having to run out to buy cupcakes on the way to camp.
Being able to see our weekend plans on the weekly spread gives me something to look forward to and kind of pulls me through the week.
I still haven’t figured out how to best use the three blocks I have for each day. I’ve been putting appointments in the top box. The other two boxes end up being a hodgepodge of to-do lists and blog ideas. Not very efficient or organized.
In my old planner there was a dedicated to-do list space; a daily schedule space; and an entire page for notes. When I did my morning planning time, I would look at the items on the to-do list and then schedule “appointments” to complete them. This worked well because it’s consistent with how I manage tasks at work.
I don’t have space for that type of organization in the Big Happy Planner, so I’m finding that my to-do list is getting lost.
Extra Pages and Items
I have full sheet and half sheet note pages, as well as a few dashboard tabs. I had been using the half sheets to make notes about blog posts and project ideas. The half sheets fit behind the dashboard tabs. I had all three tabs together in the middle of my weekly spread, along with a running to-do list.
*Note – the dashboard tabs and half sheets were for the smaller Happy Planner, but they work just fine in the Big Happy Planner.
My lists got all jumbled together and I couldn’t make sense of them. I had a shopping list on the bottom of my project idea list, and a few sentences for a blog post underneath a list of unrelated blog post ideas. It got ridiculous.
I haven’t been using my note pages well at all, so I reorganized them. Now I only have my to-do list behind the dashboard that goes in the middle of my week. I re-wrote all my idea lists onto full sized note pages and moved them to the front. Those pages are separated by the two dashboards I used to have in the weekly spread.
I’ve been using my planner stickers here and there, too. I definitely don’t have a planner theme happening each week and I’m cool with that.
The folder pockets are dollar-for-dollar the best extra I bought. Loose papers in my planner drive me batty.
Learning to use a new planner is hard
Change is tough, especially when you’re moving away from a system that you’re used to or if you’re starting from scratch having never used a paper planner before.
It’s so easy to look at all of the planner blogs and see the stickers and dashboards and pens (and multiple planners, one for each aspect of your life!) and think you need all of that stuff.
You don’t. Trust me.
The fewer places you have to look for information, the better. And the less visual clutter you have in your planner, the more likely you are to actually get shit done.
Planning isn’t a hobby, it’s a tool. Unless your hobby is planning, and then it’s a hobby, but don’t mistake that hobby for something that will help you become more productive.
So I love the Big Happy Planner but I’m suffering through a little learning curve because I fell victim to the “I need all these things” trap.
Like I said, the planning system isn’t my problem.
Where does the time go?
My weekday schedule looks something like this:
- 5:30 – Alarm goes off. Being honest here, I hit the snooze button until 6:00. This is a BAD BAD BAD habit I’ve been trying to break forever.
- 6:00 – 6:30 – Coffee, shower, dress.
- 6:30 – Wake Smalls.
- 6:30 – 7:45 – Frantically run around getting Smalls ready for camp, packing lunches, doing makeup, gathering stuff for the day, etc.
- 7:45 – Leave house, drop Smalls off at camp, commute to work.
- 8:30 – Arrive at work half hour early. I build a half-hour cushion of time into our mornings because occasionally Smalls has a rough morning. I don’t like to work against the clock and get frantic about being late if things go sideways. Experience tells me that my being frustrated only feeds the chaos. (Note to self: I should probably write a separate post about managing ADHD and anxiety in the morning.)
- 9:00-1:00 – Work.
- 1:00-2:00 – Lunch.
- 2:00-5:00 – Work.
- 5:00-5:45 – Commute home.
- 5:45-7:00 – Cook dinner and eat. I try to multitask while I’m cooking by cleaning something, folding laundry, sorting mail, etc.
- 7:00-8:30 – Family time, bath time, story time, snuggles.
- 8:30 – Smalls tucked in for the night.
After I tuck Smalls in, I usually crash in bed with whatever book I’m reading and fall asleep in three pages.
There’s not a lot of extra time through the week, even though our schedule is pretty light compared to some of my sports mom friends.
I’m exhausted by the end of most weekdays. Like can barely manage the bedtime routine without nodding off exhausted. A planner can’t fix that and I have no idea why I’m so sleepy at the end of the day.
All day I tell myself that tonight is going to be the night I stay awake for an extra hour and write a blog post or work on whatever pattern I’m designing. And then when that doesn’t happen (again), I tell myself that tomorrow morning I won’t hit the snooze button.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Do you see what is happening here? I’m thinking about doing things tonight or today or tomorrow. I know what I want and need to do. But I’m not doing any of those things now.
All the planning in the world won’t make it easier for me to get things done if I don’t execute the plan.
I don’t know how to be less tired at night, so I have to work with the awake hours I have.
The no time to blog problem
It takes me about three hours to write a blog post from start to finish, including writing time, formatting, editing photos, scheduling social media, etc. And that’s just a regular blog post. Posts that require me to crochet, pattern test, and take and edit photos can take twenty to thirty hours.
I can find an easy five hours a week just by not hitting the snooze button.
An hour a day might not seem like much time, but five hours a week is enough to complete one blog post and get most of the way through another.
Blogging isn’t just writing, though.
There’s a whole social media component to it that I struggle to stay ahead of. I’ve been using CoSchedule for about a year and it makes life SO much easier. I try to spend an hour or so each week scheduling my social media posts so I have one less daily task to worry about.
I like seeing what everyone else gets up to, so I use Feedly to follow blogs. I make time each day to scroll through Instagram, Pinterest, and the fiber art Facebook groups I’m in.
To be honest, I’m scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook All. The. Time. So, there’s that. How many extra hours would I have if I just got rid of social media scrolling?
The no time to get crafty problem
I lose a LOT of time on the weekends. Like many working parents, I spend a good chunk of my precious weekend time and energy cleaning.
We have a major clutter problem. Not hoarder levels of clutter, but we definitely have STUFF and most of it belongs to me (books and craft supplies, eek) and Smalls (books and toys).
When the house is messy, the mess creeps in around the edges of my brain even when I’m in a room that has just been cleaned. I feel the cobwebs in the corner of the bathroom calling my name when I sit down with some yarn.
As a result, I never feel like I can relax enough to work on my creative stuff. If I try to get crafty, it’s always in the back of my head that I should be cleaning the bathroom or doing laundry. That’s no fun.
Then I end up not crocheting because I feel guilty. I don’t ever feel like cleaning so that doesn’t get done either. I avoid everything.
I have been putting some effort into Konmari-ing the hell out of my closets and Smalls’ toys, which has worked wonders. I just need to keep going with that.
How I’m going to (try to) solve my no time to create problem
Nobody likes to admit that they lack discipline or have bad habits. It’s uncomfortable.
I’m 100% owning my lack of discipline. I’m awesome at procrastination, task avoidance, holding onto stuff, and drifting back to sleep after I hit the snooze button.
I’m fessing up. I have some seriously bad habits and they are sucking the life out of my life.
You can’t fix a problem until you name it, right?
When I was thinking about solutions to this “lack of time” problem, I decided that would start waking up at 5:00 instead of 5:30 *cough cough 6 by the time I’m done with the snooze button*. That will give me an hour to write before I hop in the shower. Early morning hours are my most productive, so a pre-dawn hour is worth two hours later in the day.
I’m also trying a speech-to-text app during my commute. I used the app to “write” the draft of this post. When I was done I emailed the transcription to myself. It’s WAY different from how I usually write, and I’m not sure I like it. This post feels extra wordy and lord knows I’m wordy enough as it is.
(And now that I’ve edited this post, this is not going to work without a lot of practice. I’ve spent more time editing this post than I have in the entire history of editing blog posts. My stream of conscious rambling does not translate well to writing.)
I LOVE my 9-5 and wouldn’t dream of making any changes there. Work hours are work hours, so they’re not available for getting creative. I have to fit the crafty stuff around them.
I need to force myself to make time to fully write out ideas as I get them. I have a ton of ideas, but they often get lost. I don’t write them down in full, the energy and enthusiasm for what I wanted to write dribbles away. Notes aren’t enough for me. I need to capture the whole idea immediately or it gets overwritten with a to-do list.
Also, the snooze button has got to go. Staying up later…I don’t know how to do that. I have a habit there I’m not sure how to break, so I’m just going to observe my behavior pattern for now and see if I can figure something out.
As for the housecleaning, I picked up home organizer sheets for my Big Happy Planner the other day. I’m not sure how I’m going to use them yet, but I have some ideas I’ll talk about next month.
Most of my evening time during the week is spent on cooking and cleaning up dinner. I enjoy cooking and generally cook from scratch each night. Our occasional “convenience” foods are limited to frozen veggies and pre-seasoned grains most of the time – but I’m not above whipping up some Hamburger Helper or instant mashed potatoes.
I realized that as much as I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, everyone else in my family hates onions, garlic, seasoning, flavor, and pretty much anything that is not a meat or potato. My weeknight cooking efforts are lost on them.
I used to do a lot of freezer-to-crockpot cooking (I LOVE Once a Month Meals!) and it was a HUGE timesaver. This weekend I made a small pile of meals for the next couple of weeks. I hate the process of making a ton of freezer meals at once, but the effort is worth it.
Fancypants cooking can be reserved for weekends when I have more time, since I’m really the only one who appreciates it.
I know what I need to do, and I sort of know how I’m going to approach it. I recently read The 5 Second Rule and I’m going to spend a month applying it to see where it gets me. It’s less complex than 7 Habits (my holy grail), but there’s a lot of overlap in the planning and organizational theories.
My solution to problems is always “go read something.” These are the four best books I’ve read this year about habits, planning, and making life happen. I highly recommend all of them.
I know…one of these things is not like the other. I love Mark Manson though and his book keeps the other three books in check.
I guess the bottom line is sometimes you just have to hike up your drawers and do the things regardless of whether you feel like it. And I whoa haven’t been doing enough of that.
There’s something to be said for being so passionate about something that you don’t even have to think about putting effort in. I feel that way about writing. The problem comes when you have to do things around what you love doing in order to support doing that thing. Things you might not feel like doing, like cleaning or not hitting the snooze button or going to a day job.
Waiting to feel like doing something isn’t going to make it happen. Sometimes you just have to do the thing even though you hate it.
Even though I’m a morning person, I’m never going to feel like not hitting the snooze button. Waking up sucks. But once I’m out of bed and my feet hit the ground, I’m up and full of energy. Even knowing I’ll feel fine when my feet touch the floor isn’t enough to propel me out of bed when the alarm goes off.
It’s just a habit.
If you take away anything from this post, I hope it’s that a) YES, other people are struggling to find time to get things done and get crafty just like you are and b) if you take a good hard look, name the problems, and start working on them, you can and will start getting ahead of them.
So what’s getting in the way of your creativity? Pick one bad habit and start observing it. Come back next month, because I’m going to talk about what worked (or what didn’t work) for me.
It could be a big fail. It could be awesome. I’m determined to at least kick the snooze button habit and help a few people along the way. 😉
If this post was helpful, please pin and share!
I want to know: How do you make time to get crafty? Do you have a hard time finding time to pick up your crochet hooks?