Hey, fellow art enthusiasts! Wouldn’t it be great for our sanity if we could just zone out from all the busyness of the day and indulge ourselves in some drawing every day while vibing to our favorite music? But as life would have it, we have to adult, and be ‘productive members of our society,’ and I get it – squeezing in time for drawing is hard between work commitments, studies, exercise, family, and socializing.
So, in this post, I share five strategies that I have found useful in finding a few extra hours every week to keep my passion for creating art alive over the last couple of years without sacrificing my sacred sleep time.
5. Figure out a weekly drawing theme and batch-find ideas and references in advance for a whole week.
This might not apply to everyone, but as someone who tends to be a bit choosy about what I like to draw, one of the biggest time-wasters that prevented me from drawing more often is not knowing what to draw. To give you an idea, I would literally spend upwards of 30 minutes trying to find the perfect reference on Pinterest every time I sat for a drawing session.
What helped me save at least a couple of hours each week is planning to draw around one major theme over the next week, like anatomy or value studies, and collecting a whole week’s worth of references in advance.
I think knowing exactly what you’re going to draw over the next few days and having the references ready just makes it a lot easier to initiate drawing in between other stuff because the first step to drawing something is already complete.
4. Leverage Parkison’s Law to squeeze out more time for drawing.
There’s a theory that if you give yourself 4 hours to complete a simple 30-minute task, your brain will increase the perceived complexity of the task to ensure you take at least four hours to complete it (if you’re lucky). Whereas if you assign the same task a deadline of just 30 minutes, your brain will avoid overcomplicating the task and help you finish it in a shorter time frame that reflects its natural value.
As a fellow procrastinator, I can attest to this strange phenomenon known in the time management literature as Parkinson’s Law, which states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”
One way I use Parkinson’s law to my advantage is to draw for 30 minutes first thing in the morning before I move on with the daily grind. This means I’ll have to find a way to fit in doing other tasks in the remaining time I have in my day instead of the other way around. Worth a try if, like me, you find it hard to justify drawing on top of other priorities throughout the day but never seem to have the time or energy to get to drawing once you’re done for the day.
3. Track where you spend your time for a week and time-block drawing into your dead time.
Given that everyone has only 24 hours each day, ultimately, if you want to draw more often, you’ll have to trade the time you want to sketch with something else. It may sound too obvious, but tracking where you spend your time for just a week can be so insightful and help you identify the unproductive dead time you must eliminate and opportunities for optimizing your routine to afford some extra time to create art.
When I got back to drawing last year, I tracked how I spent my time on a typical day for a week. It came as a shock to me when I found I spent upwards of 90 minutes just watching Instagram reels in a single day. I knew that cutting down time consumed on social media was going to be the single biggest change to my routine that could help me draw more regularly. But I think changing your habits can be incredibly hard, even if it’s obvious that the change benefits you.
One tip I learned from the ‘Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhig that helped me replace social media time with sketching is to sandwich it between a habit that is already well-established (e.g., taking the morning shower) and a reward (e.g., having the morning coffee). For anyone interested in how they can get into the habit of drawing, I definitely recommend you to read the Power of Habit for some insights.
2. Make drawing more portable.
Having your drawing tools easily accessible where you spend most of your time makes it super convenient to slip in some quick 15-minute drawing sessions throughout the day in between doing other activities.
I don’t particularly like carrying my drawing supplies everywhere I go, so I tend to keep a separate set of drawing supplies for home and the workplace. The basic idea is to reduce as much friction when switching to drawing from doing something else.
It also helps to keep your drawing supplies in an obvious place so you’re frequently reminded to draw.
1. Become comfortable with the idea of sketching for short durations throughout the day in between the main stuff.
Most of us don’t draw for a living, so it can be hard to prioritize creating art over work, study, and family. I like to think about fitting drawing into my life using the metaphor of the jar of life that explains how you can fit everything in an empty jar if you place the big stuff (pebbles) before filling it with fluff (sand). But if you fill the jar with the small stuff first (sand), you won’t be able to fit in the most important things.
One thing that has allowed me to draw more often is becoming comfortable switching to a looser drawing style and doing quicker sketches in between work and study. It is a lot easier to fit drawing into your busy schedule when you know you can draw even if you have only 10 or 15 minutes of free time to spare at a given time, as opposed to waiting for 1 or 2 hours of uninterrupted time for creating the perfect masterpiece.
If you know any strategies for finding more time to draw, please share your wisdom by commenting below. Happy drawing! 😊