I thought for a long time that living a wild and creative life was about being unpredictable. Somewhere along the way, I came up with the idea that if you had a routine or any sort of schedule in your life that you eliminated the ability to feel free. For most of my 20’s I fought this idea. I tried my best to never implement too much of a routine. I didn’t want to wake up to an alarm clock or look at my day in blocks of time. It felt that by doing that I eliminated the opportunity to be spontaneous and to jump in on any adventure I felt like I could take. This feeling is part of the reason I felt trapped by working for someone else.
This feeling is part of the reason I felt trapped by working for someone else. I went to work for myself out of fear that the routine of showing up at a specific time every day with numbered vacation days would kill my creative self and suppress my nature. What I didn’t realize was that by choosing to work for myself and forge my own way I was pushing myself into even more routine than if I worked for someone else. There is a large misconception that people who work for themselves whether on a freelance basis or running their own small business have chosen a life of complete control and freedom. It isn’t a bad misconception, but the truth is when you work for yourself you have to set your own schedule, you have to write your own road map, you have to find a way to get things done. The even harder piece is learning to find a way to get them done while staying true to the creativity that set you out on your own.
Since starting out on my own after college I have struggled to find something that works for me. I did the whole fight against routine and then one day I realized I was working way too much and exhausting myself not having a routine. Then I began the search for the right balance of it all. Throw a kid in the mix and I have felt many times like it all isn’t possible at times. I have big dreams and I have a lot I desire to do in my life all while desiring to find time to be present, healthy, and experiencing the things that inspire my work.
Daily I still struggle to find a balance and find room to feel a sense of freedom I hoped to have when I decided to pursue a creative career. I have found though that a few things have made all the difference before and after becoming a mother. Now, as a mother even with limited time (working 20-30 hours a week) that there is freedom within a routine and in fact the routine is what gives me freedom.
ONE: Blocks of Time Serve as Deadlines:
I have always worked well with deadlines. I always need to know when something is due whether it be a personal project or a paid project. More than ever in the last couple years I have learned I feel a lot of freedom defining my on and off times. For instance, I know I work creatively and clearer in the morning so though I hate waking up I know that I can work from 6-9 AM and get creative work out of the way that then allows me to be a good mom. I know that in that time I can accomplish a blog post and some creative dreaming on a great day. Knowing I have a block of 3 hours is a wonderful way to keep me energized to complete a task on my list. Then the rest of the afternoon that task is off the list and I can spend time reading or exploring and getting reenergized for the next work period in the afternoon.
TWO: Lists are Powerful Tools:
There are always 100 different things swirling in my head when it comes to my to-do list or ideas for a personal project I am working on. From a social post that needs to go up to a blog post idea to a bigger picture idea all of it can tend to get pretty jumbled up when just left to toss around in my head. Ultimately I found this kills my creativity because I am not unloading it somewhere. I felt as a mom, my time was limited so why would I want to spend time dumping my ideas or to-do lists somewhere and putting them in a calendar and so on? In turn, I would find myself sitting down trying to write and I had all those things just running rampant uncontrolled, thus affecting my creativity when I needed it most. So now, I use tools such as Evernote, Todoist, and my Google Cal every day to get rid of those ideas and store them away. I organize things once a day and check in on everything. When this gets off so does everything else. Another lesson learned that organization breeds creativity.
THREE: Plan Time for the Things that Bring Creativity:
One thing that brings me clarity is working out. Before we had Hayes I went to the gym once a day or went for a run. It would be the time I would work through a creative idea or just let my mind rest. I have worked out all my life since I was a soccer player all through college. After having Hayes finding the time was hard. So I started learning the importance of making things that bring my creativity more life a priority. So I started small because I know I could always find 15 minutes in my day for some strength training and then I would take Hayes on a long walk at some point he was awake. The difference it makes is crazy. I also make sure we plan an adventure of some kind at least once a week if not more often. Getting outside inspires me so setting times that we can do this is important for life as both a mom and a creative.
FOUR: A Routine Takes Away the Guess Work:
There is a reason people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg wear the same thing every day. Routine gives rhythm to life and takes away the guesswork from your day. When you know what lies ahead you are able to use your brain less to plan those details and instead come up with big ideas, solve creative problems, and more. I also find when we know our routine, which a child gives you whether you want it or not, we know that there are specific times we can go for a bike ride or try a new restaurant. It allows me to feel calm in my life. Having a routine is a lot like having a clean house. When everything is in its place you can think clearly, find room to relax enough to dream.
Routine has never come easy to me and as I said I am constantly struggling with it. I am continually fighting my right brained free spirit knowing routine is actually the best thing for me to feel my best creatively. When I feel good creatively everything else is good. Just because you have a routine whether it is being a mom, running a hectic business, or working a corporate job it doesn’t matter, those routines offer freedom we just have to look for the spaces in between that allow us it. I am speaking to myself here as well. HA.
So tell me, how have you found wildness within routine in your life? What has helped you? Are you struggling with this as well? I am always interested in how people find room for creativity and wildness in their daily lives.