If you’re anything like me, you’re a creative person who enjoys making stuff.
If you’re anything like me, sometimes the world clearly enjoys fucking with you (and everyone else) through pandemics, wars, mental illness and plain old bad luck.
Because of that, creativity and momentum can sometimes be lost. We drop things. Motivation goes away. Lethargy sets in.
My very personal solution to lethargy has been twofold. Create a list of habits to do every day. Set my expectations low on my performance.
Currently, my list has 15 items. That might seem like a lot, until I tell you what they are. Do one lesson in French in Duolingo. Do one lesson in German. Do one lesson in Latin. Together, all three take no more than 10 – 20 minutes to complete.
Read ten pages in a book I “need” to read. Most of the time, the books I choose for this are exceedingly boring but usually useful to have read. In two months I have read two and two thirds of a book. All of them useful, if boring. Certainly more than I would have read if I hadn’t instated the ten pages a day habit.
Draw one drawing. We’re talking “draw my keys” or “draw my coffee mug” here. Not very complicated, but it keeps the connection between my brain and my hand alive, and slowly but surely, it improves it.
Take a walk that’s at least 10 minutes every day. Yes, walking to and from work counts.
Do one lesson in Udemy every day. I have a set of 15 courses that I haven’t touched. Since I started with my habit tracking, two are complete and I’ve learned more about UX and UI design.
You get the idea. None of these things take very long but all of them contribute to my sense of forward motion and my sense of wellbeing. For me, personally, I’ve noticed an uptick in my concentration and my motivation. I feel better about myself.
I think the trick is to have a list to fill out every day, at least for me. A checkmark in the list (I completed my German lesson, check!) is satisfying. Thirty days of checkmarks are even more satisfying. Another thing that helps is to not have too many expectations and to add habits slowly. Start with a few. I started with five. French, drawing, reading, walking and writing a paragraph every day. Add one every two or three weeks, or every month. Don’t sweat it if you miss the mark. Wait until you feel ready and pick the habit back up. There’s no shame in failing. No judgement. You only answer to yourself.
The habits I’m most consistent with are languages, reading and drawing. I’m working on the writing and blogging and coding parts, but I’m ready to keep pushing and adding things to my list or even expanding the habits I already have to more time spent daily on them.
As a parting piece of advice, don’t overdo it. Even if you want to keep reading, don’t make it a requirement. If you want to keep drawing, sure, but no “have to”s. Tiny steps makes all the difference. Tiny steps also allow you to keep your habit alive. “Urgh, I have to draw today… but it’s only a quick sketch and it’ll be done in five minutes.” “Urgh, I have to do a section of an Udemy course… But it’s only one lesson and the exercise is quickly dealt with and then I can go play Hades.”
This is what works for me. It’s a tool. Try it out if you want. It might work for you as well.