Finding the time to create (a 30-Day Creator Challenge Excerpt)

December 1, 2018

This is an excerpt from the 30-Day Creator Challenge. 

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Dear reader,

When, where, and how have you created your content in the past three days?

Did you create at home, in the evening, in a quiet room? Or did you do the work in the middle of your open office when your boss wasn't looking? 😉

I suppose the latter would be tricky if you're shooting videos or recording podcast episodes.

Regardless, it can be tough to find the time and energy to create. And if we do find the time and have the energy, it can be difficult to focus. So let's talk about those things.

To begin with, realize that the circumstances aren't always perfect

Ideally, you'd have lots of alone time without distractions to get your creative juices flowing. For example, here's how the famous psychologist Carl Jung used to give himself the time and space to do his work:

In the 1920s ... [Jung] began regular retreats to a rustic stone house he built in the woods outside the small town of Bollingen. When there, Jung would lock himself every morning into a minimally appointed room to write without interruption. He would then meditate and walk in the woods to clarify his thinking in preparation for the next day's writing. — Cal Newport, Deep Work

I'm sure that that setting would help you and me create beautiful things as well. But I'm also pretty sure that you, like me, don't have a self-made stone house in Switzerland at your disposal.

Fortunately, we don't need to take such extreme measures to find the space to work, especially now that we are just building the habit of creating. Remember, we're not creating novels, movies, or award-winning podcasts right now. We're just trying to get something creative out every day.

If you can find a stretch of uninterrupted time to create your thing during the day, that's great. Half an hour without interruptions can result in a lovely video. But even if you don't regularly have distraction-free time like that, you might find opportunities when you look more carefully.

For example, I sometimes find myself writing on the train, on my way home. When that happens, I usually have 20 to 25 minutes, and I challenge myself to finish that day's article in that time. It's almost always enough time. And if it isn't, I'll have most of an article written, and I can finish it easily at home.

Of course, if you're shooting a video or recording a podcast, doing so on the train isn't ideal. But you could find the time on your lunch break, or by getting off a bus stop or two earlier on your way to work. You can record while you walk.

That said, please do not make this a stress-inducing habit. We don't need to fill every seemingly available minute of our down to do something productive. Looking out the window on the train is nice too.

When you can, plan to create when you can be by yourself for a little while. But when your day is a bit busier, look for that small space somewhere in which you can get something out. 

On a side note, giving yourself a limited amount of time (such as when I write on the train) can help you get started. The pressure of having a time limit makes it easier to put those first words on the page, or to start talking. And trust me, you'll get a better sense of what you have to say after you start talking (or writing).

So, in short:

When you can make it easier for yourself, do so; when you have to write, shoot, or record in less-than-ideal circumstances, accept that.


— Peter

P.S. When you're writing, shooting a video, or recording a podcast, turn on the "do not disturb" mode on your phone and on your computer. Just to help yourself focus.

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