I'm a creative. One who loves to play and paint freely. To explore without constraints. To dream and try and learn and experiment without deadline.
I'm also a (mostly recovered) type-a, routine and schedule loving being.
For me, having a bit of focus and routine give my brain and heart the space to wander, freely, while still making sure I get all the things needed to run my life, home and business done throughout each week.
Seeking a balance of productivity and flow is the magical dance I do each week as I plan my days. Lately, I've started a new-ish routine that is helping me to do this dance with a bit more ease, joy and calm.
Leaning more into the making of art and design in my days, as I work to introduce new products, patterns and original art this spring - my schedule was in need of a tune-up. A fresh approach to routine to allow for freedom and play, while also allowing time for strategy and task work.
Using a bit of design thinking, I revamped my routine to blend the productivity and comfort of a schedule with the play and intuition of an art practice. This new-ish routine allows each week (and day) to look a bit different, with an intentional mix of creative time, work time, and even some rest time to recharge.
Forever a reading and research nerd at heart, I re-committed to some tips I’d learned from a few of my favorite reads on productivity, art, and life.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This favorite helps me find time, daily, to be creative in the most simple of ways.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown. This read has really helped me to get more intentional with where my time goes and what goes on my to-do list.
This article on task batching reminded me of the power of arranging my day into focused blocks by activity type to keep my squirrel brain a bit more focused.
Here’s a peek at what my new routine for March looks like:
At the start of the week - usually on Sunday, I list out tasks, projects and to-dos I want to explore and accomplish in the days ahead. Everything from work, to art, to writing, to family tasks, appointments and personal projects all work their way onto my list. From there, I take this list, super edit it, and then block my calendar in “bursts”—bursts for painting, for writing, and for phone calls, and on and on.
In each burst, I make note of what I want to accomplish as I start my work, my big goal. Whether it’s working on one large painting or roughing out a few small ideas; writing two articles or pitching three new publications. Having the time blocked allows me to mono-task, yet the freedom to choose my focus in each burst gives me the variety I need to stay engaged.
The beauty in this routine is that it’s a bit more free-form than following the same schedule each week and can work around my energy, and meeting schedule. It mostly allows me to put most of my creative bursts earlier in the day, with more mundane tasks (returning phone calls) following later in the day.
What’s currently working well in my schedule?
What could use some improvement in my schedule?
Am I feeling inspired and focused when I need to be?
How is my energy throughout the day?
Once you know where to focus your efforts, I’d invite you to start with a few small tweaks that you are drawn to, whether it’s incorporating bursts, creating a smaller to-do list, or aligning your schedule to your energy. Start small, keep what works, and keep tweaking until you find your optimal routine.
For me, this refocus on routine is helping me approach work and life with renewed passion, curiosity and focus.
By blending my love of routine with the approach of learning to intuitively follow my energy, I’m tweaking my days and weeks to match my mindset and focus on the right type of work, at the right time.
Likely, this will continue to be a work in progress as my days, life and work evolve in the coming years.