My second year studying Biology at my town’s University wasn’t easy for me. I had just realized my true passion was art. Still, my mother wouldn’t let me drop out so I could learn to paint at the local art school.
When I found out I truly wanted to be an artist, it felt like fate when I found out the art school I wanted to spend my life in was a relaxing 5-minute walk away from my University.
But, when my mother closed that door for me, it seemed as though fate was mocking me instead. Having what I longed for so close to me, yet as out of reach as though it were 5,000 miles away.
If I wanted to make that dream come true, I had to finish my Biology degree first. I worked very hard to make it so. To reach my goal of attending art school.
My notes are covered in doodles. Some of my books have sketches in them. Though I’d never admit this in public, my desk was no stranger to my creativity. But I always thoroughly erased everything after snapping a pic of my short-lived masterpiece.
I had so little time left after attending classes, practice sessions and studying for tests, that I just had to doodle in class. I couldn’t help it.
Can you relate to that? I bet you do. I’ve got a name for us.
We’re time thieves.
We steal a few minutes here and there because it’s the only time we ever have for our art.
It’s ridiculous how little time we have for the thing that truly lights us up. Let’s change that now.
7 ways to help you make time for your art
1. Use time blocking to organize your day
The time it takes to complete a task expands to the time you’ve allotted for it. If you’ve scheduled 1 hour for a task, it’ll take one hour. If you’ve scheduled 15 minutes for it, it’ll take you 15 minutes.
When we give ourselves more time than we really need, we tend to lose focus and procrastinate.
So don’t schedule more time than strictly necessary for each task and stay focused on it until you complete it.
If you use your time wisely and you avoid unnecessary distractions, you’ll complete the tasks you need to do sooner. Then you’ll have more time to do what you want to do.
Learn more about time-blocking here.
2. Schedule time to draw regularly and honor it
This may sound counterintuitive and your mom may give you the sideeye (especially if you do it wrong).
However, it can be really effective if you do it well. Schedule time to draw and actually honor it. It’ll let you finally have time to draw.
Furthermore, knowing you’ve got that time scheduled for art will push you to complete your other tasks in time.
When you know you don’t have more time for a task, your brain stays focused on the task at hand to complete it asap.
Plus, if you fail to complete your other tasks, you’ll be more diligent about finishing them in time the following day.
3. Use a planner to stay on track
Ground-breaking discovery, am I right?
But, hear me out. One of the reasons why you don’t have time to draw is because you’re not making time for it.
Use your planner wisely to keep track of everything you need to do so that you’re never caught off-guard by tasks and plans you forgot about.
It’ll also let you plan ahead and schedule time to draw. That way, if someone wants you to do something at those times, you know you’re not available and you’ll be able to prioritize your art over other events.
This isn’t to say that you should spend all of your time drawing. But you need to ensure you have time to draw as well. If art is going to be a part of your life, it deserves to have your time and full focus.
4. Decide in advance what you’re going to draw
You know how frustrating it is to finally have time to draw and not come up with any ideas?
How can you avoid this? One way is to decide in advance what you’re going to draw once your time to draw starts.
That way you won’t waste it trying to come up with what to draw. Use an idea vault to store all of your brilliant drawing ideas.
If you need help, I’ve created a list of creative drawing ideas that you can use when you’re low on inspiration.
5. Honor the time you have to draw
Seriously. Turn off the internet, tell your family not to disturb you while you’re drawing, take your cats away from your room so that they won’t sleep on your laptop while you’re trying to draw.
You don’t have much time to draw so you have to make it count.
Spend your drawing time, well, drawing.
Don’t browse social media, don’t look up your horoscope, and even if it’d make your mom happy -- Don’t procrastinate on drawing by cleaning your room.
There’ll be time for that later. Now, draw.
6. A good ol' bribe to save the day
If you've got too much on your plate, consider delegating some of your tasks to someone else.
This may not always be possible but if it is, delegating your tasks will free up time to spend drawing. Score!
If you can't just dump your tasks on someone else, consider trading tasks or bribing them.
Is there any task you could trade with your siblings/parents/partner that would free up time for you to draw? And in exchange you could do another task for them that would take you less time or effort in comparison?
If it's your turn to cook but don't have time for that, ask them and in exchange you may be able to run some errands for them some other day while you're on your way to school or work.
Alternatively, bribe them with something they really want in exchange for doing that task for you.
You can offer them some moolah or to let them have something they really want (borrow your games, clothes, incredibly expensive camera, eat the last piece of birthday cake...).
7. Master the skill of becoming a time thief
Take time from other tasks that don’t need it or that you get to do more often than art.
For example, if you almost always spend one hour playing video games, consider spending some of that time drawing instead.
Come home slightly early after hanging out with friends to spend some time drawing.
Maybe skip that re-run of your favourite show on TV or Netflix.
Draw while you're waiting for an appointment at the doctor's, or dentist's. Or during recess at school. Or lunch break if you're working.
Take a notebook with you so that you can draw during any spare time you have available like on the bus or car ride, assuming you’re not the one driving, haha! Don’t draw and drive.
Over to you! What are your favourite ways to make time for your art?
There are a lot of tips in this article but the most important takeaway I want to leave you with is this:
Don’t wait. Don’t fall for the trap of believing that “I’ll have time to draw when…”. That won’t happen.
Life will always get in the way. Make the time now or you’ll never be able to enjoy art to the fullest. Give yourself permission to dedicate enough time to it and do it.
Let me know in the comments which of these methods you’re going to use to make more time for your art!
I’m kinda in the same situation. I studied biology but I can’t say that I’m very passionate about it. But my parents wanted me to choose something that’s more secure and reliable and living as an artist is anything but that! But I like art more.
What does your mom think now that you’ve become a successful artist? Does she regret that she forced you to study something you didn’t like?
Hey Maria! Thank you for sharing your experience with me! Hardly any job is secure or reliable anymore, especially where I live where you can get fired any day and receive little to no severance paycheck. So at least I know I’m in control of finding my own clients and living on my terms. As Tony Gaskins’ said: “If you don’t build your dream someone else will hire you to help build theirs.”. My mom doesn’t regret making the hard choice and neither do I. I think it was for the best in many ways (namely, I met the love of my life at the Faculty as we were both on the same class) and I always have that degree to fall back on if I ever decide to change careers again.
After I finished Biology, my mom fulfilled her end of the deal and told me I could attend art school, but I chose to do a Master’s degree in Conservation Biology instead. After that, I couldn’t continue down that road as I wasn’t accepted for a Ph.D so I decided to take a “sabbatical” from Biology to turn art into my career. I think this worried my parents but I had done what they asked for so long and I struggled to find a job as a biologist, so they accepted and allowed me to take one year to make it work. It wasn’t easy but it fills me with pride to witness the transformation they went through haha. Where they’d ask “When are you getting a day job??” they now ask “How much did you say you made last month??”. They still feel it’s an unpredictable career and deep down they probably think I’d be better off being a waitress or something (as if that were a lifetime position where you can’t get fired from), but they are proud I made it and support me a lot 🙂