Monthly review – how do you establish a creativity habit?

Monthly review – how do you establish a creativity habit?

July was by far the best month for me in terms of trying to establish my creativity habit. I would have reached my target of three hours creativity per week, three out of the four weeks.  Unfortunately allowing time for creativity doesn’t feel anything close to becoming a habit just yet.

As I wrote about in my post How to change a habit I have changed many habits over the years, and I have read about the psychology of habits, but even with this knowledge I am really struggling to establish creativity as a habit.

I loved the book The Power of Habit – Why we do what we do and how to change by Charles Duhigg and this is how the book defines habits:

the choices that all of us deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day. At one point, we all consciously decided how much to eat and what to focus on when we got to the office, how often to have a drink or when to go for a jog. Then we stopped making a choice, and the behavior became automatic. It’s a natural consequence of neurology. And by understanding how it happens,  you can rebuild those patterns in whichever way you choose.

Being creative outside of my work is something that I have to consciously think about each time I do it. Could it be that this is just a hard habit for me to form like stopping complaining was? Unfortunately I don’t think the answer is that simple.

If I am truly honest with myself, I think there are a few things preventing me from establishing this habit:

  • In a hang over from my addiction to being busy and being productive all the time, I allow other activities to crowd out time for creativity.
  • I have been working on a project for my work which requires me to use my creativity. After a day working a lot on this project, I just don’t feel like “being creative”. I would rather do something more passive like read a book or listen to a podcast.
  • It feels a little forced – now is time I need to be creative!

It shouldn’t be like this, the aim of my goal was to create space for creativity and calm. I think I have had the wrong focus. Instead of focusing on forcing creativity at certain times, I think I need to change my focus to cutting some more out of my life – focus on creating the space to allow for the creativity to come naturally.

I know many of the readers of this blog are creative and I would love some help with this. How do you find time in your life for creativity? Do you plan it? Is it a habit? Or does it just need space? I would love it if you left your thoughts in the comments section on the blog below this post – any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Here is how I am traveling overall with my goal for 2016:

HabitConnection to goalMonthly progress
37 pieces of clothing per season
Decision fatigue is a real thing - less clothes to choose from will free up mental energy! I am going to simplify my wardrobe to make choosing what to wear easier and having less items in my wardrobe will give me back needed physical space. One of the best things I have done this year to free up time and mental energy for decision making. I can highly recommend trying this process. It doesn't have to be 37 pieces of course, setting any number gives you a boundary to work with.

You can read my full write up about this habit here - How to simplify your wardrobe.
33 consecutive complaint free daysComplaining spreads negativity and I have so much to be grateful for. It is hard to be calm or creative when your mind is full of negativity. I have half heartedly worked on complaining less before, but to become a habit I need to track and measure it.Achieved on May 16. It took much longer than I thought, mainly because I didn't have a solid plan on how to approach it.

Learning to not complain is a great way to increase positivity in your life and that of your family.

You can read how I finally achieved it in this post -
Monthly review – planning and persevering
33 consecutive days of meditationI have dabbled a little with meditation and it makes a huge difference to the noise in my head. It makes me feel calmer, but I am yet to do this regularly. Doing so will help create an inner calm in my life regardless of the chaos around me.Meditation was one of those things I thought was all a bit "woo woo" and I thought I didn't have time for. I am very happy to admit I was so very very wrong on this.

I love meditation and it is certainly helping me achieve my goal of creating calm in my life. Not only do I feel calm during and after I meditate, but I use the practice of meditation in my daily life when I feel myself getting anxious, angry or upset.

You can read how I built my meditation habit here -
Monthly review – building a meditation habit
33 items decluttered from the house each weekOn the surface our house looks relatively clutter free, but there are over flowing cupboards and drawers. Decluttering will give me a greater feeling of space and calm.I have come to a bit of a grinding halt on this one. Over the month I think I would have been lucky to declutter the house of 50 items for the month. I am wondering if this a realistic goal or if I have just decluttered the easy stuff and now have hit the hard part?? Will work on resolving this in August.
3 hours a week for creativityTime for creativity never made it to the top of my to do list as I didn't give it the value it deserved. If you want something to happen you have to schedule it. I would have made this for 3 out of 4 weeks. The issue for me still is it isn't a habit. More work required.

How are you going with your goal for 2016?


  1. says

    Hi Nicole,
    I love your monthly review posts, they’re a big inspiration for me with my own goal setting endeavours!
    This is really interesting, I am a creative person, and being creative is something that is just part of my daily life, I have schedule time during the day and evening where I knit, crochet etc and I run an etsy shop. It’s something that I make sure I schedule because it’s really part of my self care, it keeps me sane running after 5 kids! I seem to have a lot of creative energy and lots of ideas and have no problem making time for my creative pursuits, but I struggle with other areas where I’m trying to establish habits, usually things I don’t enjoy so much. In saying that, sometimes I exhaust my creative energy and have to take time out to allow it to come back.
    I’m curious about what kinds of creative things you are trying to make time for? Maybe the key is in how you define creativity?

    • says

      I think you are right about the definition of creativity and it is something I have been thinking quite a lot about. I think I have had lofty ideas about creativity, but miss so many of the little things I do that I enjoy and are creative.

  2. Eliza says

    I have a mathematics/science background but that doesn’t mean I’m not creative. I think everyone is, but it does depend on how you define it. I find I am doing a lot of creative things within my work (which is in financial consulting). Eg creating easy to use and pretty templates for inputting financial information.

    Also, my 8 year old daughter is creative in the sense most people think of it. I struggle to do craft, but we have a few sets eg sand drawing cards etc that we take out every morning and work on in the mornings before my 4 year old son wakes up. I am thinking of adding sewing to that time (as I love to sew, but can’t do it when my 4 year old is around). That way I can fit it in as a family thing rather than making separate “me” time for it.

  3. Miki says

    I just finished a “Not a Bookclub” course which was a monthly 2 hour session on different things such as screen printing and drawing. I found the life drawing session very relaxing. It was quite meditative. You could maybe do 20-30 minutes of drawing as a mindfullness activity? You do not need much equipment or time. I think I might try and work it into my week. I’m not very good at it but I try and think of the benefits of the process and not worry about the outcome/result so much.

    • says

      I have found everyone’s feedback so helpful, thank you for giving me some ideas Miki. I think I am potentially to “outcome” oriented when it comes to creativity and need to really think through why I want to do it and what it can look like.

  4. Barbara Fyvie says

    There are many ways to be creative and not in the traditional form of making or drawing. I believe that being creative should bring you joy. Using this definition you can call gardening (creating flowers or food), cooking (creating a meal or cake) or your homemade Christmas presents as being creative.
    I also believe you shouldn’t limit yourself to what the outcome should look like or be, enjoy the process and make the end product something that you have had joy in making. Have a ‘just go with it’ mindset.

    Lastly some tips, have different sized projects on the go or have one larger project that can be divided into smaller tasks. This way depending on time available you can do something small (eg 15 mins) or larger (eg 2 hours). When you do not have the mental energy at the end of the day, I find colouring in, drawing mandalas or zentangles can nurture the creativity within and can be stopped at any time and returned to later.

    Good luck in finding your creativity.

  5. Magdalena says

    Hi Nix
    Great post and tips!! You are already doing creative things (blogging, Christmas stuff, cooking, home stuff, reading) and so I like the thoughts of re defining what creativity means to you. Also, checking in re what were your original thoughts about this area at the beginning of the year, when you first had the idea (goal?) and what you hoped you’d get into or implement through out the year and why etc.

    There is a lot of inspiration or food for thought reading books on creativity and process too – The Maker, How to Be an Artist, Big Magic, How to Make Art, Artist’s Way, and kids’ books on art and making too… etc there are tonnes!!

    I agree too, just do it and enjoy the process mindset, no matter what outcome is, no pressure, we don’t know where its all going to lead!

    Thanks again for your blog and reflections!