Alyssa Mees


How I Make Time for Art With a Full-Time Job

One of the main questions I get when I mention that I have a full-time job is, “How do you make time for art?!” In the past, my answer has generally been that I plan for it. Earlier this year, I realized I wasn’t utilizing my free time wisely, so I asked myself, "How AM I making time for my art?"

Over the last four months, I’ve focused on exploring and observing my time-management. What do I do to make time for my hobby? What changes do I make in my day? What sacrifices do I make? Do I follow through with my plans?

Finding the balance in a busy work, home, and art life has been a constant struggle for me. I'm fortunate that I’m a busy person, but I’d like to feel more in control, ya know?

Late last year, I started a new job that had earlier hours, so I had more time at night to create. This has definitely helped a lot in regards to having extra time. But there are a lot of other things in my life that are important and require my attention. Such as:

  • Helping maintain a (semi-) clean household
  • Following through on plans with friends
  • Keeping up with social media and managing an online store
  • Cooking (semi-) healthy meals
  • Relaxing and taking care of my body
  • Spending wonderful quality time with my husband
  • Getting good sleep

Somehow, between all of this, I have found a few ways to carve in some art time. Every chance I found myself working on art, I asked “How did I get here? What did I do today that led me to this point?" Here are the ways I make time for my artwork or improved my process:

Stay up late on work nights
I try to be reasonable and responsible with this. My weekday bedtime is 10PM, but I’ll stay up till 11 or 12 every so often to catch up on a painting or manage social media. I work better at night as it is, so I like staying up. This hasn’t been too hard on me, although an extra cup of coffee in the morning is a necessity.

Wake up early on the weekends
Saturdays are normally my grocery shopping, cleaning, and post office days. On top of that, there’s usually a family or friend function. On weekdays, I wake up at 5:40AM, and on weekends, I casually wake up around 8-9ish. I am not a morning person whatsoever, but on a few occasions I made it a point to wake up earlier to get all the errands done earlier. This made for more time dedicated to artwork. If there is a lot to take care of in a weekend, I try to do it all on Saturday so I'll have Sunday to create. As a bonus, in addition to getting more done, I also feel like my weekends aren't quite so short.

Sacrifice a movie night
We watch a lot of movies and shows as it is, so it hasn’t been a big deal to take a rain check every so often.

Guilt tri- I mean, motivate myself
There have been a couple of times that I've told myself, “If you don’t get up off this couch and make some art, you’re gonna feel shitty about it later.” At the end of the day, I feel accomplished and happy that I've painted. When it comes down to it, I feel better about myself when I know I’ve done something with my day. 

Eliminate bad habits
Have you ever been surprised at how you somehow wasted a couple hours on Instagram or Youtube? Yeah, I have a bad habit of wasting my time doing nothing on my phone. When brainstorming how to make more time, this was a habit that obviously had to go. Every time I feel myself falling down an internet rabbit hole, I stop and remind myself there are better things to do with my time. This helps me get up and get to work.

Plan ahead, and stick to those plans
I started thinking of tasks as if they were appointments or meeting up with friends. I don’t flake out on those, so I tried not to flake out on myself. This trickery works most the time. Sometimes if the task seems too big and it's getting late at night, I'll save it for another day.

Planning smaller tasks of bigger projects
Instead of writing a vague entry (“Start/finish painting”) in my planner, I try planning more manageable tasks like blocking in colors and linework. This way, my tasks aren't so overwhelming and feel easier to work on. Plus, there's the satisfaction of crossing items off my list!

By implementing these techniques, I've gotten better (but not perfect) at making more time for art. There's still room for improvement, but I feel like this is a good start. I hope to get even better at managing my time, and I hope this can help you with your planning, too! And remember, you're not sacrificing time for nothing. You're making the effort to pursue your passions. Make sure not to overdo it and have fun with your art!

Thank you for reading my first blog post!

Alyssa Mees