It’s hard for students to think about being creative when life seems to demand so much from them. Exams, assignments, work, extracurriculars — it’s just deadline after deadline. Everything else seems to be less important, school and work is paramount—right? Wrong!
Even in the midst of stressful times, we need to take time to explore ourselves, ease our mind and turn our attention to things that make us happy, make us wonder, make us dream. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, or whatever the ghost in The Shining said.
The truth is, even in university, we need to release our inner-child, our inner-joy, our inner-creative! This is not limited to arts and crafts but thinking and doing things outside our everyday routine, whilst also minding our deadlines and obligations. Here are four ways we can be creative in a short time:
- Remember that fun thing you’ve been putting off for months? DO IT.
Focusing on work and school has prevented many of us from accomplishing long-time goals. Most of us have that one thing we have been wanting to do but never had the time. Funny thing is, that one thing would probably take a fraction of the time you believed it would once you get it done.
Change your routine. When you have a sparing moment in your day, do not rush to complete other tasks on your agenda. Take an hour to read a chapter of that book that’s been sitting on your shelf for weeks. Take 30 minutes to assemble that IKEA desk you’ve been meaning to put in your room. Watch an episode of that show. Cook that recipe you saw on TikTok. Despite our busy lives, we will find joy and invention when we indulge in the tasks we have yearned to do for so long. After reading that book, maybe it will inspire you to explore a concept in your next essay. After making that meal, maybe you will find a new passion that turns your life in a new direction. We are not meant to do the same thing every day—conformity is the enemy. This slight shift in our daily routine can help us see the world through fresh eyes.
- Put your phone away
We often see others showing off their creative side online, wishing we could do the same. But how can you show anything if you haven’t put in the work? We spend ample amounts of time on our devices — sometimes for a good reason, sometimes not. We often lose our breaks, the miniscule window of freedom in our days, to scroll or text when that time could be put towards something meaningful.
To bolster our creative output, while keeping our marginal time limits in mind, we should avoid all digital distractions and live in the now. Avoiding online activity can prevent us from procrastinating and help us concentrate on tasks outside the digital realm. Experiencing the world around us — even if just the confines of our homes and study spaces — we can find new things to be intrigued by. As per my first point, staying off our phones for even a few minutes can help us complete a task we never thought we could.
- Make ‘yes’ part of your vocabulary
During demanding times, we may limit ourselves to our perception of our own capabilities. It is easy to say ‘no’ to anything that could derail us from our duties at hand. But have you ever noticed that the most rewarding and enjoyable times come from spontaneous moments to which we would otherwise never agree?
Opportunities present themselves all the time and we often adopt a passive attitude that can trap us in a repetitive loop. When we say ‘no’ to everything, we close ourselves off to being introduced to novel experiences that can open our lives to a new state of being. Adopting a positive attitude and willingness to learn, grow, and excel can lead us to our next creative project or opportunity.
However, the goal is not to say ‘yes’ to everything — time is money and we may not have the luxury of indulging in every prospect that comes our way. Nonetheless, it is essential to develop a balance, where we can be fulfilled while remaining on target. Your teacher asks you to join a committee that meets once a month —say yes. Your friend asks you to attend an art show after class — say yes. We never know when we will have these chances again and they might inspire you in the next phase of your life. Take risks and take these moments with stride.
- Surround yourself with creative energy
As university students, we may feel isolated and sequestered in the piles and piles of work we have to do. But the best part is, we are never doing it alone! Thousands of students are working away and getting things done on the daily, but there are also many that take the time out of their day to be creative.
I’m sure we all know that one person who always seems to be doing a hundred different things and still has time to go to class, study, and have fun. Those are the people you want to align yourself with. The people that can inspire you to find yourself. Immerse yourself in the unconventional and ingenious ways of others. See how they strive to meet their educational and creative goals, while maintaining a delicate balance. Building a rich network of creative and intriguing people can help you learn so much about yourself. Once this network has been built, it will be easy to find ways to immerse yourself in tasks that will fulfill you in a short amount of time.
The goal in all this is to understand that our time is precious. It may feel like we have all the time in the world, but sometimes life comes down to a few short moments. Give yourself a moment to breathe, to feel, to appreciate. It may be hard during this season, but finding time to develop creative outlets will ease the tension and stress you may be experiencing. If you have a single opening, a single time slot, channel the energy you have inside and turn it into something worthwhile.