Heart & Soul Apothecary Blog — how to use things to do lists

How To Stay Focused When You're A Creative

How To Stay Focused When You're A Creative 0

How to regroup and stay focused…when you’re a creative. 

I don’t know about all of you, but as a creative I can easily be distracted.

We by nature are visualizers, we interpret all that we see with our art in its many mediums and styles. Being a creative also means we come up with ideas, loads of them in fact. But how do we deal with the input our brain sometimes gives us to handle from swirling in our heads on repeat mode?

Now add in those ‘asking for attention’ and interruptive notifications you receive about your FB post being liked or someone commenting on your IG post while you’re trying to work on your computer.

What about when family members request your attention or life’s mundane tasks that must always be done? How do we not unravel at some point?

Then add other factors, like your mind swirling with those ideas of things you need to do and in trying to make many decisions at any one point. It can get rather busy inside our heads, and when creating art - it can get extra busy.

It’s because we are in that zone, that creative zone, that allows our minds to wonder about things - all things.

Here are some ways I stay focused:

I use Peppermint and Rosemary Essential Oils in my diffusers. I also used an essential blend I created called Intelligence. Yes - a funny name (I do like to have fun when naming my products) - but it's for when you need to really get focused and concentrating on school work per se or anything else that requires memory tasks.

I am a big believer in lists. I have lists for everything, hence my love of journals. I have lists for my ongoing inventory of things to make, lists of products for my shop, lists of projects and their action steps to get from point a to point z, etc. 

Each list is always dated, has handwritten squares to check off once the task has been completed. I use certain characters and notations with my lists to keep them organized from one another. It’s job within itself.

Then of course what about those other kind of lists - those lists that are forgotten about, left on the kitchen counter, so that when you arrive at the grocery store, you buy everything but that one thing that was most important, say the toilet paper or toothpaste. We’ve all been there at some point or time.

Personally I always look and read other people’s left lists in their now empty grocery carts - I find them so fascinating, but I am going off on a tangent here…

Sometimes, I have laughed literally out loud at myself when reviewing the list of things to do from the day before (or even perhaps a few days before). I have uttered these very words to myself, “Ummm Leah? - Why don’t you just change the date on the top of this page!? You silly!”

It’s because I didn’t even reach one goal that was on that list. It can be bewildering to wonder what did you actually do the day before, that you couldn’t even notch off even one of the items on your to do list. In fact in can be outright frustrating making you think you are not getting anywhere closer to your goals. Stop fretting over your things to do list. Really!

I have some solutions in how to handle your lists, and projects and in keeping your energy up & focused besides copies amounts of caffeine created in your favorite format.

You wan’t to know what it is?

One of my solutions is to just stop…. stop everything for just one moment.

In fact take two moments.

Turn off the electronic sounds, and simply see if you can sit outside for a few minutes to hear the wind coming through the trees, or the sounds of the cars bustling down the streets. Grab a sweater if you have to. You don’t need permission to do this.

Don’t concentrate on anything but the sounds and sights you are experiencing.

My mother Gertrude who raised me since I was five, used to have me count how many things I could identify by hearing them. I would sit and listen. Not speak, but tilt my head to hear best…. and say things like I hear a bluejay squawking, the buzzing of a bee, the wind rushing through those trees over there, the cat purring, oh and the neighbor’s dog barking. I can hear the sound of the tall grass bustling in the breeze and the chimes in my backyard.

Sometimes to get grounded and refocused is to take that respite. It’s a necessary thing to take a break.

I say this, since I haven’t been on a vacation in 8 years. But what I do everyday is my love and life. Some day’s I’ll be very productive while other’s not as much. But I don’t let it weigh me down. (Ok well, I try and not let it get me down -let’s be honest here).

One way I stay focused, is that I pay attention to nature. I watch for signs when I should ‘move’’ or take action. It’s the inner Native American shaman in me per se, but I am very aware of when the Canadian geese arrive in the field behind me, it’s my sign to start ‘real’ work for the day, and when I see them fly home for the night, it’s my sign to stop what I am doing and to switch gears.

Another trick and this is a good one! When you are feeling overwhelmed by your things to do list, don’t write a list of things to do, but write a list of things you have done for the day - and number them. That’s right, I’m telling you to stop writing down a things to do list.

Instead, write down and number for each and anything you did for the day onto your piece of paper.

List them no mater how trite they may appear, such as emptying the dishwasher (which by the way was finally done yesterday after the dishes had been cleaned 5 days ago) - yup!

Add things such as you changed the sheets, you walked the dog, you picked up your child at soccer, you threw in a load of laundry, you scanned in art, you worked even a little on a piece you’re in the middle of. You cleaned the dishes in the sink, or even just picked up the clothes off the floor.

List every single thing - make it be like a game. See what else you can add to your list of things you have done for the day. And make sure to number them!

By the end of the day, you will be surprised that you actually did more than you thought you did. You will no longer feel that you didn’t get anything accomplished that day - and will no longer see your lists as unsurmountable goals, but as guiding steps to move you forward with your goals.

I bring this trick and ‘alternative’ way of creating your things to do list for when you may be feeling overwhelmed.

It’s so very easy for us to be over-consumed by all the things we need to do on any given day - and by changing our focus for even one day and in listing those things we have accomplished, will in turn, give you a natural self pat on the back and vote of confidence wth a refocused mindset.

So Lets Let The Creativity Begin!

xo Leah


So how do you handle the stress of your life and art and family time? How do you stay focused and reground yourself? Please share with us in the comments below. Creative Artists Want To Know.


All images and article copyright 2017 Leah Quinn.