KEEPING CREATIVE THROUGH LIFE TRANSITIONS

Aug 23, 2016 · 5 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

I recently e-mailed some friends to announce my big pregnancy news. As I was typing, my thoughts were focused on that and not on my living situation.

Then I remembered that I’ll be moving into a tiny house too, and told them all about that. That’s a lot of big news for one e-mail.

It’s a time of transition in my life, and like many people going through transitions, whether you’re having your first baby or sending your last off to college, getting married or going through a divorce, moving, retiring, or any other major life change, the adjustment can be overwhelming and taxing, and it can be difficult to maintain the routines and practices that allow you to do the things you love.

I’ve been finding that’s the case with me. With the pregnancy, I’m just plain tired and uncomfortable. With the move to the tiny house, my preparations involve getting rid of most of my things, which is mentally exhausting and really time consuming. So how have I been staying creative during this time of not one but two big transitions?

Well, I haven’t.

I’ve been sleeping in, because growing another human inside of you takes a lot out of your body, but it also means I’ve had less time for writing in the mornings, which is pretty much the only time I can get that done. In the evenings, when my brain has ceased to function, I’ve been trying, with marginal success, to declutter. (Let me just mention here that making decisions about your things when you’re hormonal is way more difficult than when you’re not, and probably ill-advised.) Consequently, I’ve gotten behind on a lot of my creative goals.

My initial response is to beat myself up over that, to chastise myself: “Bad creative! Bad!” After all, I have set deadlines for myself that I was meeting and no longer am. Having spent years as a reporter, it has become ingrained in my DNA now that I MUST. MEET. DEADLINES. and anything less is a big ol’ failure on my part.

Of course, I realize that’s not helping. Beating yourself up doesn’t make you any more productive. Rather than give up on creating anything at all, I’m realizing that I need to change my mindset and my way of doing things, at least for a while.

Here are a few of the steps I’m starting to take to keep productive during this time of transition:

Sleep

You may not be growing a baby inside you, but you don’t have to be to benefit from getting enough sleep. We all need an adequate amount, and when we don’t get it, our work suffers: We can’t concentrate; what we produce is sub-par; and we’re really not giving our best to those around us.

Because I like to get up early and write, for me getting enough sleep means going to bed earlier. For you it might be staying in bed later. I’ll admit, it’s been difficult, and I’ve only been marginally successful, but I realize it’s important and so I’m trying. If I don’t succeed in getting to bed early enough, I adjust my wake-up time. That’s not ideal, so it’s more incentive for me to get to bed on time.

Decide what can wait

There are a lot of new, extra things going on that I have to do, like take childbirth classes and make decisions about the tiny house. This is where slowing down has had to come into play, as I’ve had to figure out what to do now and what can wait. For instance, I’m keeping my house clean, of course, but while the house needs it, a deep clean can wait. Trying out new recipes in the kitchen? Not so much. I’m trying to keep other stuff simple and quick so I can get back to the work I want to focus on now.

Find new times to work

I function best first thing in the morning. But with sleeping more, my mornings are disappearing to the need to get ready for work and get my daughter prepped for school. Evenings are family time, so I’ve tried seizing other times during the day - namely, my lunch (half) hour. Sure, it’s only 30 minutes, but I’m focused and find I can get more done then than I can in an hour in the evening. Plus it forces me to take a lunch instead of working straight through. If we’re given a lunch, we should take it.

Keep focused on the prize

After this time of transition will be a new phase in life. There will be a new baby in our family, and we’ll be adjusting to living in a way that gives us more freedom to pursue the things we love. Keeping that in mind helps me weather these times when I feel overwhelmed and bad about not getting to do the things I love as much as I would like. Feeling bad doesn’t help my creativity, and I’m pretty sure others find the same. So focusing on the good things to come and understanding that my time allocation will change again and I may have even less time helps keep me from beating myself up over things and keeps me productive and taking advantage of the time I do have.

Realize this will pass

It’s better to enjoy our time than to stress about it, so it helps to recognize that this is just a season in our lives, and seasons turn. It can be tempting to reorganize our lives during these times, and sometimes that’s prudent, but sometimes all you need to do is make a few tweaks, keep positive and realize that slowing down is not something you achieve, it’s a constant journey. And like any good journey, sometimes you need to manage your expectations to get the best outcome.

How do you keep up your productivity during times of transition?

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Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.