6 Ways To Make Time For Creativity During The Work Week

Jen Brister

I like to believe that no matter what type of person you are or what kind of job you do, there's some kind of creative expression inside you that wants to get out.

Creativity can take many forms. Whether it's drawing comics, playing guitar, coding and making new apps, designing clothes or beatboxing, the opportunities are endless. My favorite outlets are writing and photography.

We all have something to express within, but what we don't have is time. Or, at least that's what we think.

I was telling one of my best friends about how happy I am that people are responding to my personal blog, one of my many side projects on pursue on the weekends and after work. She said, “I really want to do more, but my life has been too much of a f*cking mess lately and it never stops.”

We all feel or have felt like that. I used to feel like that, too. But then I realized that life is never going to stop being "crazy." Unless you make a huge career change, your job won't start being calm anytime soon. Your boss isn't randomly going to start letting you go an hour early.

It's so easy to let your obligations control you instead of you being in control.

The key is to work with the time you do have, and not waste it on bullsh*t that doesn't fulfill you, like hours spent flipping through apps on your phone. Nurturing your creativity is so important because being creative is just for you and no one else.

You're not going to suddenly get a shorter commute, a higher salary and become a morning person overnight. But you can start by exploring options for creative outlets.

Here are some options to look into right now if you seriously need a creativity refresh.

1. Instead of “unplugging,” use your smartphone to your advantage.

I do some of my best writing while I'm half-asleep on my commute to work. I use the Notes app, which came with my phone. I didn't even have to download it.

That's at least an hour a day I take to be creative. Normally what I write sucks, but I know no one is going to read it. In the long run, doing something every day will make you better at it.

We're all looking at our phones all day anyway. When you get ideas -- literally any ideas -- just jot them in your Notes. Save them for a rainy day. You never know when they might be useful.

Not into writing? Check out these other apps that will make getting creative from your phone or tablet as easy as stalking strangers on Instagram. Just today, I saw a guy drawing a cartoon of Hodor from "Game of Thrones" on his tablet while sitting on the subway next to me. Creativity can be mobile.

2. Hold yourself accountable by signing up for a class.

You know how you commit to something, like a diet, and you're good for a few days but then after one lazy day it all goes to sh*t? Yeah, it happens with creative endeavors, too.

Early this year, I told myself I wanted to draw something every day. That lasted less than a month. Although, I did work on a character I call "Lonely Bear" and at least I can always come back to him when I feel like drawing again.

Talia Koren

Sign up for a class or meet-up. Doing this will hold you accountable. Look at online classes, which are great because you can do it on your own time. I recently signed up for an online course. I hesitated about the money and time commitment, but the fact that I'm paying for it motivates me more than anything.

It pays to put yourself to work and be creative. I'm not talking about money -- I mean that you can get lots of personal value out of being creative.

Bonus: By taking a class or joining a meet-up, you'll meet like-minded people and expand your social circle, and maybe even meet new people to date.

Check out Coursera, which offers online classes for free. Meet-up is another great resource for joining fun and free events in your area based on creative passions.

3. Location is everything.

A change of scenery is proven to boost creativity. If you're relaxing on a Sunday with nothing to do, instead of idly scrolling through Facebook, go to a park or a coffee shop and get your chill on.

My favorite thing to do is write in coffee shops. I don't care if that's cliche. I make a whole afternoon out of it on a lazy Sunday. Weekends are made for downtime. Use that downtime to be creative once in a while.

Being creative doesn't mean you can't relax. I lie on my bed with my laptop on my belly while writing. It's extremely comfortable. Being creative means take a break from watching other people's lives on Snapchat to live yours.

4. Carve out a corner for yourself on the Internet.

Platforms like Tumblr are perfect for exploring your creative interests. You'll connect with people online who share your passions, while still remaining anonymous. No one has to even know who you are if you don't want them to. Start reblogging today.

Blogging is also an amazing way to hold yourself accountable for practicing creativity. If you read somewhere that blogging is dead, ignore that BS. I started a blog a couple months ago and I love it. It's challenging, but there's no pressure because I don't care how many people actually read it.

Running a Tumblr or Instagram is not just a way to ~brand~ yourself. It's a platform to put something out there in search of true connection.

5. Remember that there's creativity hiding in the mundane.

You might think that putting on clothes every day or cooking a meal isn't creative, but it totally is.

Ever hear that quote, “Fashion is art you can wear?” It's true. Even if you're someone like me who is too scared to try a pair of mules, it's yet another avenue to explore. Going shopping, which is something you probably have to do at least twice a year, is a way to be creative.

If you don't believe me that cooking and clothes are more than just necessary, think of it this way: What you wear and eat is nine times out of 10 driven by your mood.

Tomorrow I might have an urge to channel my inner foodie and throw together a smoothie bowl for breakfast. Or maybe I'll wake up feeling ambitious and make an Instagram-worthy omelet. Either way, I'll be expressing myself in at least one little way.

6. Provide value with your creative talents.

Why not use a creative talent you have to help someone? That way you're killing two birds with one stone: giving back and being creative.

If you're good at drawing or crafts, take an afternoon to volunteer at an after-school program and help kids create their own art. Or help teach computer science to the elderly. Teach a friend how to sew. The possibilities are endless.

Someone out there can benefit from your time and company. I promise you'll feel great by sharing your creative talents.

Ultimately, prioritizing creativity will make your life feel full if your work is soul-sucking. Ultimately, you'll have more of a sense of purpose than if you just plop down on your couch and watch "Keeping Up With The Kardashians."

Here's a challenge. Trade two hours a week you spend watching TV or “winding down” (looking at Instagram and Snapchat) to be creative. Play for two hours without a goal. Forget productivity. Two hours will be enough time to at least start a project, write down your thoughts, cook a meal, play dress-up with your clothes…whatever you want.

Maybe some days you'll feel too drained to be creative, but push yourself anyway. You can't fail when it comes to creativity. It's literally impossible. It's all an experiment.

And you never know where free-writing for 20 minutes might lead you. Prioritize your creativity because life isn't going to slow down and wait for you.