On one hand… you’ve got creativity running through your bloodstream. You think outside the box and see the world as one big art project waiting to happen. Whether you’re the kind of creative who writes, draws, sings, sews, photographs, or simply has a right-brained mind that just won’t quit, you have a unique way of looking at life that serves you in any situation.
On the other hand… a girl’s gotta eat. Five (or more) days a week, you do the work to pay the bills, and have a job you’re plugging away at – maybe even a full-blown career you’re carving out for yourself. You’re no stranger to the so-called daily grind: the traffic-jammed commute, the stressors of your job, the responsibilities that loom over your head as you hustle at work. Whether you are in love with your job or are just trying to get by, there’s one question most creative types have in common when it comes to the daily grind: do I have to give up my identity as an artist just to fit in?
Just because you’re a working girl doesn’t mean that you have to squash your creative impulses. If you’re not used to singing your own praises, this is a really good time to start: you have a special, visionary way of viewing the world that not only serves you, but serves all those around you.
Whether your daily grind is in an artistic field or not, here are four ways to honor your creative work, your 9-5 work…and still end the day feeling like you can do it all, just as you are:
• FIND THE LESSONS. If you’re the creative type, you probably love the process of learning and exploring new ideas or situations. Think back on when you were in school: each class was about learning something new, applying your knowledge, and then proving you’ve got it on lockdown. You might have had to play by the teacher’s rules in the classroom, but when it came to how you finished your homework or the way you studied for a test, that was all up to you. School, even though it’s usually about textbooks and facts, is actually the place a creative can shine.
Your daily work grind is exactly like going to school every day. Start to view each little project, meeting, task, or segment of your day as a lesson and ask yourself: what can I learn from this? If you’re always looking for the lessons, you’re always taking away something new, building your tool chest of skills and knowledge for whatever life throws at you, in or out of the office.
• BE ALL THERE. This is one of my biggest tips when people ask me about staying focused while tackling multiple workloads. Oftentimes as creatives we spend time trying to do everything at once – we like to think that our creativity means we can and should be multitasking mavens. But have you ever noticed that when you’re focusing on all the things, you end up getting none of the things to the place you’d like them to be?
You might have a side creative project, another outlet outside of work where your artistry lives, or maybe your 9-5 involves a mix of creativity and strategy. Whatever your situation may be, make the lines between each project or pursuit crystal-clear for yourself. And be all there. Whatever job you are doing or task you are working on, give your 100% focus to that activity and that activity alone. You can’t be in two places at once, literally or figuratively. And by trying, you’re not only producing a fraction of your highest-quality work – you’re constantly reminding yourself that you’re not doing something you “should” be doing. Give that laser-like creative focus you’ve been blessed with to everything you do, one task at a time…even if what you’ve got in front of you seems tedious or out of your happiness-zone. You’ll gain immense satisfaction from knowing you gave it your all – and you’ll have a full tank of creative juices just waiting to be used on your next adventure once the first one’s done.
• REMEBER YOUR THROUGH LINE. Your through line is the common theme in everything you love and the common goal in everything you do. For those of us creatives who have both a “typical” job and a creative endeavour (see cautionary note here about using the terms Day Job and Side Hustle), it can sometimes feel like only the latter is allowed to speak to who we are and why we’re here. Determine your through line here, then ask yourself how you can implement it in whatever work you’re doing. Once you find your through line, it’s easier to see that being a creative isn’t so much about what you do but why and how you do it.
• SEE YOUR VALUE. You, Little Ms. Creative, are an out-of-the-box, solutions-oriented person. But it can be tough to remember that when the daily grind takes over. Whether you’re stuck in traffic, returning phone calls, filling out spreadsheets, or following rules to a T, sometimes it can seem like the working world is not set up to be all that kind to creative types like you.
What you’re forgetting is what an asset you are to your peers and colleagues. While facts and procedures are important, there is nothing more valuable that someone who can look at the big picture and offer up creative, innovative solutions or alternatives that transcend the day-to-day. Make it a goal to look at the day not as an obstacle you need to overcome, but an experience you get to shape simply by being you.
Liked this? Listen to it – along with more personal stories about being a daily grindin’ creative – here.
Do you consider yourself a creative? How do you make your daily grind work for you, no matter what your daily grind looks like? I’d love to hear in the comments below.