Set aside time to create

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What did you do this morning? First thing, as soon as you started working? Was it answering email? Maybe checking in on a Facebook group you help manage? Scrolling through Instagram?

Or was it creating? That big project you’ve been trying to chip away at? The one that you’ve been planning for a few weeks at least?

Up until a few months ago, I started my mornings slipping into the magic social media time warp and somehow spent all the time answering other people.

99U calls this Reactionary Workflow.

Maybe you do this too? You’re just filling your time reacting to what other people want from you or ask of you.

So once I got my head on a little straighter and realized I was making little-to-no progress on the major creative endeavors I was in the middle of, I made myself stop. I had to force myself. I LIKE feeling like I am helping. I LIKE the feeling of productivity that comes from answering emails and clearing out the inbox.

But those little things aren’t helping my long-term goals. Instead, made the concerted effort to remove myself from that loop of responding to what everyone else was asking of me.

I turned all notifications off of my phone — including (and especially) the notifications from my company’s instant messaging profile. I don’t work ‘on call’ so there’s no need to know the exact second my boss asked me to tweak a book’s product description. I took work email off of my phone. I made sure to close the email and internet programs on my laptop, so when I open it in the morning, I’ve only got my writing project open.

Most importantly ….  over the last 6 months I’ve been doing Morning Pages (as prescribed by Julia Cameron). That’s a subject for a whole post on its own, but let me tell you …. It has been so great for my brain to have ~20 minutes first thing every morning just set aside to clear my head and write something.

So I wake up, feed the cats, start the coffee, and then sit down and write by hand for about 20 minutes. Then (usually) I get to work on my writing project of the day.

I can get away with this schedule for a lot of reasons — I work part-time, from home on my own schedule. I get up SUPER early, so no one expects me to answer email at 6:30am ET when I am beginning work.

But you can do something similar:

Give your brain a break from input — resist taking out your phone when you are just waiting in line
Close out your Facebook tab
Turn off notifications from your phone
Schedule your creating time on the calendar
Meditate
Take your lunch break outside (without your phone)
Take a nap
Go for a walk (without your phone)

There’s a ton of ideas to take yourself out of the cycle of constant media absorption. Not every single second needs to be filled with entertainment.

Set aside time to make something instead. First thing. Before anyone gets in your way.

I’m still not winning this game. I’m still working on this every day and all the books I wanted to have done this year? Yea, not even close.

But I’m working on it. And every day I get better at it.

P.S. Be sure to register for 30 Days of Lists if you want a fun and EASY creative challenge for next month. You only need to set aside 5 minutes each day to create.

You can totally manage that.

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