7 timewasting activities that artists suffer from

Sheila Chandra - Friday, June 22, 2018

We’re all so busy. But are you using your time constructively, or merely passing time? I’ve made a list of creative people’s favourite ways to waste time (how many do you recognise in yourself?) Here’s how to spot them and deal with them.

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Some of the things we have to do as artists are difficult, like juggling creative work with the admin and business sides of things or running other aspects of our life.  Self-sabotage often shows up as timewasting, which we can pretend to ourselves – and others – is time being used constructively.

So here are some of our favourite timewasting tricks favoured by artists:

Artist timewasting activity #1

‘Busy work’ that feels comforting because you know how to do it, but is not actually getting you anywhere. Laundry…shuffling paper…what’s your poison? You need a system of tasks to work through so that you can give yourself the tick of accomplishment. See point #3.

Artist timewasting activity #2

Social media. Yes. Facebook and Twitter are, essentially, business tools. You can use them to promote yourself in a constructive and productive way. Or you can waste hours – days – years sharing memes, ‘liking’ things that are meaningless, hoping to win the approval of your friends and family. You are worth more than that! Try keeping a note of the time you actually spend on social media – you will be amazed.

Artist timewasting activity #3

Dithering between tasks because you don’t have a ‘to do’ list for that day, or doing several types of task at once (brain doesn’t like the ‘re-boot’ time as it switches).  Follow the master list instructions in Organising for Creative People and you will find it much easier to prioritise and move through your list of tasks.

Artist timewasting activity #4

Consumption. This is a funny one because many artists pride themselves on ‘not needing to do consumerism’. But, do you have a thing about skip shopping? Snapping up bargains on Ebay? How much of this stuff do you actually need? Is it helping you progress your work and career? Just asking.

Artist timewasting activity #5

Wallowing in the past (you don’t really do this, do you?) This is probably a normal part of human nature, but how much of your present is it taking up? What is past is gone and how we use the present moment determines our future experiences. If memories are muddying up your subconscious, get it down on the page. If this is a persistent problem, consider seeing a coach or therapist.

Artist timewasting activity #6

TV, magazines and surfing the web. You need to get strict with yourself and be really selective here. There’s endless information available, most of it irrelevant to you and your process. There’s a fine line between keeping informed and flooding your brain with junk info. It also eats up your strength for gently pondering new creative projects.

Artist timewasting activity #7

Several creative directions/projects in totally unrelated fields…. Doubling up on time for materials/manpower/resources/contacts/support/fanbase. It’s normal for creative people to have many        interests and also several talents, but you need to find a way of harnessing these that serves your career rather than tripping you up.

We all tune out at times for a number of reasons. A little is necessary downtime, but too much can be fatal. Would Michelangelo have finished the Sistine Chapel if he was chatting on Facebook? How many symphonies would Beethoven have knocked out between making posts on Twitter? Time for a time audit…

Are you struggling to manage your time constructively?  Try some creative coaching with me help you to focus and take the necessary steps into action. Contact me at for a free 30 minute consultation.

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