There is a problem that all artists have at some point in their career. We wake up in the morning and we think “I should really get some artwork done” but then the other side of your brain says, “ugh, I just don’t feel like it”.
We feel this way for a multitude of reasons. Maybe it’s the end of the day and our willpower is depleted. Or maybe we just haven’t developed the habit yet.
Regardless it’s not just procrastination or lack of energy. We just don’t have the mental capacity to get started. In this video I’m going to give you 4 practical tools you can use to turn “I don’t feel like it” into “I can’t wait”.
To be an artist means to create art. To me artist isn’t a title. Artist is an action. If you do gardening you’re a gardener. If you build businesses you’re an entrepreneur. If you create drawings you’re a draftsman.
If we’re not productive towards our ideal life or our understanding of who we are it contradicts our own understanding of ourselves. This is the dilemma. You identify as an artist so you feel a need to create.
Productivity towards your ideal self is what we’re going for here and the first thing that keeps us from being productive is…
Right now we have more distractions in our lives than ever before. The Internet, news, TV, social media, and video games are constantly grabbing our attention.
And that’s not including the rest of life’s necessities. To make it worse, most online content follows a format created by decades of research on how to keep the human brain interested longer. Our 1.7 million year old brain has no chance against cutting edge hyper addictive content.
In the book Make Time: How to focus on what matters every day, John Zeratsky, Jake Knapp says…
“Look, we love technology. But there is a very serious problem here. Combine the four-plus hours the average person spends on their smartphones with the four-plus hours the average person spends watching television, and distraction is a full-time job.”
You’re not the only one. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Distractions are universal to everyone, so have some compassion for yourself and consider some of these practical tools to help you.
Do Not Disturb
Almost all devices have some kind of do not disturb mode right now and most can be set for specific time frames. Get familiar with how to set do not disturb on your phone, laptop, tablet and watch. Then get ready to use it on tool number 2 in a moment.
One program I love for this is Freedom. It works on every device and it can be set for any schedule. I have a link for that in the description.
Maybe you don’t have an issue with digital distractions. Maybe you have a big family. First you want to communicate clearly to each person that your art time means a lot to you and that you’re going to need some peace and quiet time so you can get some painting in.
I love you, but I need to spend an hour or so doing this then we can be together.
This feeds in really well with the next practical tool as well.
2 Plan Your Art Time
This is so important. Take some time and think about your day. When can you fit in some painting time? At what time during the day do you feel like creating most? What time do you have the least amount of distractions?
When you find that timeframe. Schedule it! Put it on a calendar, write it on your wall, put a post it note on your desk, whatever you have to do to remind yourself that during this time every day It’s art time.
Also you want to define where you want to create. Where are you most productive? Is it alone in your room? Or is it at the coffee shop with headphones on playing your favorite music to drown out the crowd?
When you have the when and the where you can carve out some space in your day to actually start building the habit.
I would recommend the morning, or soon after you wake up because building a new habit takes willpower and as Roy Baumeister explains in his book Willpower.
Your willpower is directly connected to your energy. When your energy is depleted so is your willpower. It’s one of the main reasons why we want to break our diet late at night. No energy, no willpower. It’s going to take willpower to start your art when you don’t feel like it so plan it when your energy is highest.
Once you have that time set now you have to protect it. In the first tool we set boundaries on our devices and we communicated our boundaries to our family. Now it’s time to protect that time. Close the door, put on the headphones, put a note on the door to remind people that you’re busy, communicate to them further if they break that boundary. Get across to them that your art time is very important to you and ask them to respect that.
Emergencies are a different story though… I don’t feel I need to explain that further.
But having a plan for your art time doesn’t matter if you’re not consistently showing up and working during that time. Which brings us to the next tool…
3 Consistency and Longevity
What does consistency mean to you? For me, and my art habit, it’s daily. But consistency could mean 3 days a week for you. Whatever your schedule, make sure you stick to it for a long haul. It’s the consistency that builds the habit.
I would suggest establishing a minimum. Some small amount of work you could do everyday no matter what. For me that is 30 minutes. For more on that see my video on setting a minimum.
On those really hard days when you want to be consistent but you really don’t feel like it. Maybe you’re sick or something. Just focus on your minimum. Focus on what you can do, not what you think you should do.
You may feel like 30 minutes isn’t enough to get anything done but that’s not the point. The point is to keep the habit going. And the more times you show up and do the work when you don’t feel like it the more motivation you will build.
Also I want you to set a maximum. I know this may seem counterintuitive to the go hard or go home macho society we live in but we want to set ourselves up for success now and way in the future.
I like how Greg McKeown put it in his book Effortless.
“I define “done” as the point just before the effort invested begins to be greater than the output achieved.To avoid diminishing returns on your time and effort, establish clear conditions for what “done” looks like, get there, then stop.”
This will take some experimenting but if you find that you can sustain 2 hours a day for weeks but you get burned out after a few days if you go beyond that then make sure that you spend no more than 2 hours a day creating. It’s like compound interest, keep putting up the numbers to compound the motivation and productivity.
4 Everything Ready at Hand
Lastly I want to talk about removing obstacles by having everything ready at hand.
Imagine this. You’ve fought down the “I don’t feel like it” demon, conquered the forest of distractions, showed up in the time you set aside and all your hard fought progress comes to a screeching halt because you have no idea where your paint box or canvas is…
Don’t defeat yourself before you even get started!
Prepare the night before, or after every painting session, by putting your materials in the same place all the time. Make the transition into creativity so effortless that you could do it anytime during the day.
Not only does this utilize the precious time you’ve set more effectively but you’ve also saved a lot of brain power that needs to be used on creating your next masterpiece.
There you go, 4 practical tools you can use to turn “I don’t feel like it” into “I can’t wait”.
- Conquering Distractions
- Plan your art time
- Focus on consistent and longevity
- Have your materials ready at hand
Once again you find this video/post helpful. My purpose here is to help other artists become better versions of themselves and one day achieve their dreams.
Please ask any questions you want. I love helping and I reply personally to every email sent.