I was hosting a creative women's event recently, and one of the guests asked me how I balance my time volunteering with this organization and my paid work as a freelance writer.
Her question led to a conversation about how to make time for "passion projects": the work that we actually enjoy, and that will help us get to our next role or career transition. I spewed out advice like it's easy, but it hasn't always been that way. Creating time is a tough undertaking when most of us work at least 40 hours a week.
Here are three approaches to make time for your passion projects and unleash your creative potential:
1. Create Timelines That Hold You Accountable. I run a weekly e-mail newsletter that is delivered to my subscribers' inboxes every Thursday.
Each week I know that I will dedicate two to three hours between Wednesday and Thursday to curate stories, write, and send my newsletter. I'm accountable to a group of people who signed up for a weekly digest. It's a weekly routine that only takes a few hours out of my workweek; it's a project that's helping me grow my portfolio, and make new connections.
Platforms that offer free user options like Exposure for photography, or Tiny Letter and Mail Chimp for e-mail newsletter programs, are a good starting point to launch passion projects. Set a timeline for yourself that is attainable within your schedule like a bi-weekly photo project. It'll encourage you to practice your skills or share your photographs that have been sitting on your camera.
2. Establish Routines and Get Organized. It's my goal every week to contribute a blog to Huffington Post Canada. It's an important platform for me to hone my writing and writing focus of creative women and sustainable fashion. But, it's a goal, which means if I don't publish a post one week, then I'll work extra hard to get a post up the following week.
I encourage you to use organizational tools like e-mail calendars or free software like Trello to detail your work goal of the week, plan ahead, and get started. Both tools also allow you to set reminders, if you need encouragement.
I've been enjoying New York film maker Casey Neistat's video blogs. Casey's goal is to create one video blog a day about six minutes in length. While it's ambitious for someone with such a busy schedule, he's always filming throughout the day, and knows that each evening he'll be editing. This project has become a routine for him every day.
3. Take the First Step. Start Small, and Just Do One Thing. Make that your focus, and continue your progress one week at a time. Your project doesn't need to be perfect before launch, especially if it's something that you're sharing with other people. You'll find that the direction of your focus could change over time, and all the work you could have put up front, would be wasted.
When I was starting my newsletter, I thought it would take me months to get the look and feel together. Then, I looked at my favourite newsletters and realized how simple they are: no fancy design or logos, rather really good content. I started with Tiny Letter, an intuitive and simple e-mail newsletter program, and just focused on one step: writing. Overtime I might design the newsletter or find that I need a new program with more analytics, but it's not necessary right now. My focus is where it needs to be: on my writing.
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