One key to success is having a routine—even if you’re creative. The hard part is sticking to it. That’s why taking the time to determine the best creative routine goes a long way on your pathway of artistic success. Both excitement and the determination to fulfill your dreams are important ingredients to make your new routine stick! So if you’re sure you want to be an artist, read on.
One reason new routines are hard to stick to is that much of your life is habitual. When you decide to change your entire life, it takes a few weeks—or even a few months—to form a new habit. And a new routine is basically a new set of habits that help you live more efficiently.
Another reason is that it’s just hard to figure out what works and doesn’t with everything that’s going on in your life. Be prepared to take time to figure out what works best for you. A personalized routine is necessary for you to stay true to yourself. In this process, be careful about setting your expectations too high since you’re still trying to figure it all out. Allow yourself to explore and grow because it takes time and effort to improve.
If self-discipline and punctuality aren’t your strongest skills, it may be helpful to approximate while you’re figuring it all out. Plan sets of activities for different periods in the day instead of at specific times. This allows you to develop a general flow to try it out so you know what works before making changes. As you progress, you can focus on more specific time frames or activities if you like.
Instead of approaching your routine as something you have to do right away, think of it as building up to how you want your life to be. I often find that I expect too much of myself when I’m trying to set my creative routine. This makes it hard to follow through and leads to frustration. No matter what, just keep trying to improve yourself and your routine so you can stick with it!
It gets easier
The good news is that as your routine becomes more familiar, your self-discipline will grow. The effects will spread to other areas of your life—including your creative side! So even if the process is slower than you’d like, it’s worth taking the extra time to see what fits your lifestyle.
It’s common to think of a routine as a fixed goal, but finding a routine is a process. Our lives are messy, and we need both structure and flexibility to succeed.
Everyone is different, and there is no best way. So these suggestions are only ideas to try. If it doesn’t work for you, then try something else. The most important thing is figuring out what works best for you and your life!
Considerations for Your Creative Routine
The most important factor in your success is having realistic expectations. Amongst other things, it’s necessary for you to take into account your current lifestyle, your physical needs, and your current state of affairs. This goes a long way in setting the best creative routine for your life.
Challenging yourself is great, but if your goal is impossible to achieve you’ll give up. When this happens, it’s easy to get the idea that setting a routine isn’t for you. That’s only because you set yourself up for failure in the first place. So realistic expectations are SUPER IMPORTANT for your success.
Before you start planning, it’s also helpful to realize that a routine is not a fixed feature in your life, it’s adaptable. The purpose of a routine is to help you, so if it’s not helping you, then you’ll need to improve it.
- Important Tasks
Start by deciding on your most important tasks. Make two lists: things you need to do and things you want to do. Things you need to do might include work, cooking dinner, and painting. Things you want to do might be starting a new hobby like learning the piano or reading more books.
In all likelihood, you’ll have more tasks than time (isn’t that how it always goes?). Put a number in front of each task for how important it is. For a creative routine, you have to prioritize your art! So don’t neglect it unless you’re content with it being a hobby.
In each list, you should decide how much time you want or need to spend on each activity. Think about how often you need to do each task, and limit yourself to daily and weekly tasks.
Anything you do less frequently than once a week should fall under times for chores, leisure, or socializing. In addition to free periods, be sure to leave enough time for short breaks between activities so you don’t burn out. If you’re too strict then it’ll be difficult to stick to your routine, especially at first.
- Personal Goals
This is by far the best reason to start a routine. While paying the bills and cleaning the dishes are things you have to do, even if you don’t want, a lot of times it takes a little extra nudging to make ourselves do the things we value the most—like creating.
Your routine should reflect your personal values. Your time is priceless, so devote yourself to advancing your goals and dreams. For your best creative routine, art should be a primary focal point!
Even if you only devote a little time to it every day, that’s better than nothing. You’ll be making a lot of progress.
Especially if you haven’t been working on art consistently for a while, you’ll be amazed at the progress even 10 minutes a day will do! This will increase your motivation and your skill until you’ll find yourself needing, or wanting, more time. Work on increasing your abilities naturally instead of forcing yourself into a routine you’re likely to fail.
Think about the habits you have. By combining your routine with existing habits, it simplifies the whole process. This is a great time to start building new habits, too, since the structure reinforces your behavior.
In fact, when you start making art every day, it actually becomes habitual. So make sure to include at least 5-25 minutes of creative time every day in your routine. Making art is something you should just do, you don’t need to think about starting or not. So don’t give yourself a choice! Include it as part of your normal day.
Even though you’re making the best creative routine, remember to take care of your entire self! This includes your body and mind. Some important habits to include are fitness, healthy eating, and sleep.
A fixed work-schedule is going to place the most restrictions on your routine. While you might have less time overall, external structure can make adopting a creative routine easier.
With fewer hours to work with, you only have limited time to make art. This will help you stay focused on progressing since you realize how valuable your time is every single day. In addition, waking up and going to bed around the same time becomes easier, so you only need to focus on planning your mornings and evenings.
If you don’t have a fixed schedule, a routine is probably even more important. Although it’s going to take a little more planning and ingenuity to make it work. You’ll also need to exert self-discipline since it’s up to you to provide all or most of the structure in your life.
In this case, I would recommend starting with times you go to bed and wake up so you know how many hours are in your day. For some professions, it may not be possible to keep a strict schedule even when it comes to sleep. Regardless, look for patterns in your life and schedule and use them as guidelines to follow.
Even with chaotic schedules, it’s still important to have target times to go to bed, wake up, and take naps. Use these times to decide the best times to create. Plan your day the night before and try to match it as close to your ideal routine as possible.
- Circadian Rhythm
A circadian rhythm is your natural body cycle—including when you go to bed and when you wake up. Everyone is different, and every BODY is different. Consider your body before starting a routine. Pick a time that’s reasonable for your body.
While waking up early is associated with productivity, it’s just a stereotype. If it’s not you, don’t force yourself into it. You can still be productive, even if you start your day at noon—just work later into the night! Circadian rhythms are influenced by genetics, and as people grow older, they tend to wake up earlier, too.
If you’ve never been able to wake up in the mornings, then it’s better to pick a time when you can wake up instead of aiming for a super early time. It’s really hard for me to wake up early unless there’s bright sunlight streaming in. Likewise, if you wake up at 1:00 a.m. every day, well, make the most of it! There’s nothing wrong with going to bed early if you’ve accomplished what you need to do.
If you can wake up and go to sleep around the same time—whatever time that happens to be—then that you’ll be able to be more productive throughout your day.
- Productive Times
We all have different times of day when we’re most alert. Make sure to use these periods to your advantage by working on high-focus tasks. Humans tend to be most alert a few hours after waking up, but that might not be true for everyone. So spend a few days noticing your mind state and try to figure out when your optimal time is.
Save your most important tasks for when you’re alert so you can produce your best work. I like to write in the mornings when I need to concentrate, and I paint in the evenings since it’s relaxing and more explorative. There’s also some evidence that grogginess increases creativity. I also like painting in the evenings since I avoid screens. If you have trouble falling asleep, screens can make this problem even worse.
Things to Remember
Starting a routine can be hard, but it’s necessary to have the structure in your life. This allows you to make more art and focus on your important goals. Develop a routine that works for you and YOUR LIFE.
You don’t need to impress someone else with it; you need to impress yourself by following it. So don’t worry about how strict or loose it is, especially at first. The most important thing is that you can stick to it so you can follow your dreams.
If one day life happens and you break your routine, don’t be too hard on yourself! Just tell yourself it’s okay and redouble your effort tomorrow. No one is perfect, so of course, you’re going to make mistakes. Putting in effort is more valuable than aiming for perfection. (Trust me, I’m a perfectionist.) Continue to tweak your routine as you find out more about what does and doesn’t work for you until you strike the right.
Starting out is difficult, but it gets easier. If you find you’re not succeeding, be sure to sit down and figure out what, if anything, needs to change. Resolve to keep trying no matter what—this your life and your dreams we’re talking about!