How to Stay Creative Even When You’re Busy

creative woman at an easel in a red apron, painting

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” — Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I stumbled upon this quote while in the midst of a lighthearted debate with a friend who is a data analyst. We both agreed that creativity is something we are born with, and something that humans need to do to live a fulfilling life.

As someone who has a creative career as a writer and actress, I often get bogged down by the mundane parts of business. For example, a few months ago I was in Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting with the various companies I work for. Trying to balance my creative and administrative work was overwhelming. I found myself working from the minute I woke up to minutes before I fell asleep. I was constantly in a bad mood because there was so much pressure on my creativity (writing deadlines, production meetings, etc.). The second I realized I was starting to resent my creative gifts, I took a mental health day to reflect. 

I had to start embracing my creativity in a way that was fun and free, because my busy schedule was dampening my spirits. Here are five tips for how I incorporate no-pressure creativity into my daily life, even when I am really busy.

Create for five minutes

Set a timer for five minutes and work on your art without distraction. You don’t have to start and complete something in one day. Just do something creative for five minutes in between meetings — have a solo dance party to your favorite song, scroll through your favorite Instagram artist’s feed, or pick up one of those coloring books for adults and color. Even working for a small amount of time can recharge my spirit! 

Create for fun, not to complete a project 

Take the pressure off by telling yourself that no one will ever see what you are making. There is so much value in creating just for fun. When I prioritize the fun of creating, I’ve found that I don’t censor myself, and it helps me switch my focus from the final product to the process, and that’s really where the magic happens. 

Last year, I started working on a poetry book and decided to look for an illustrator, even though I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for. After a frustrating search, I decided to watercolor just for fun. I am not a visual artist, so I had no intention of creating something that was “good.” Turns out, I made something that I really liked and the painting gave me an idea for my poetry book illustrations. You never know what can happen when you take the pressure off the end product!

Experience art on your lunch break 

What do you do on your lunch break? Do you let yourself fully disconnect from work, or does your mind wander back to unanswered emails, meetings, and to-do lists? I recommend taking your lunch break as a time to experience art and separate yourself from tasks that bog you down.

Reading a book of poetry, listening to a podcast, or even perusing paintings on Pinterest are all ways to experience art on your lunch break. One thing that I do during a busy day of meetings is throw on some music and take a walk in the park. Being in nature always gets me out of my own head and frees me up to think creatively, which lifts my spirits. 

Creating will look different daily 

Creativity will look different each day. Some days it might be daydreaming on a walk or redecorating your living room. Find the moments in your daily life that lend themselves to tapping into your creative side. 

Some days, I honor my creative side by working on an outline for a new screenplay at my desk, creating fun content for social media in a coffee shop, or writing a poem on the notes app on my phone while on the train to run some errands. Other days, all I have time for is singing to my dog! Each one of these creative acts, no matter how small, helps me stay grounded and inspired even during the hectic parts of my day. 

Create a junk drawer for your ideas

One of my creative projects is a podcast that’s aimed towards people who are developing their own creative passion projects. 

Something that I talk about a lot is “honoring your inklings.” I often find myself having little bouts of inspiration —  maybe I think of something funny, or I hear a small bit of a conversation on the train that moves me and I want to remember it. Instead of letting myself forget or putting pressure on myself to turn my small idea into a large project, I open up my google doc titled “anecdotes/ideas” and I write it down. 

I use a Google doc, but you can use a journal, notebook, notes app, etc. As long as all the ideas are in one place, it will be easy to come back to if you ever want to revisit one of your ideas when you have more time. You can listen to the episode here where I talk about this further.

These tips are useful for everyone, even if a career in the arts is not your chosen path. (That friend of mine who is a data analyst says that she uses a fair amount of creativity in her career as well!) 

Staying creative even when you are busy is a great way to stay connected to your humanity and keep your day inspiring.

Originally published on September 9, 2021.

Content Survey (Inline)

We want to know what you think!