I want to be honest with you. 100% honest. I feel guilty every day, a couple of times a day. I’ve never committed a crime and I’ve never hurt anyone. I’m even trying to not to regret my decisions even if they’re bad (I take a lesson from them and I move on).
However, I’m talking about a different kind of guilt – ”a creative guilt.” Once it gets stuck in my head, it’s hard to get rid of it.
I think we’ve all been there at some point:
- “I could be more productive.”
- “I could be designing something instead of watching another TV show.”
- “I could be writing another blog post instead of scrolling through the Facebook stream.”
- “I could be learning something new instead of having a meaningless discussion on Twitter.”
And the list goes on…
You will always think that you could be doing more and that you could be using your free time better. Even if you actually spent a couple of hours on that side project, at the end of the day you’ll still think that you could have been more productive and done more.
You’re trying to beat yourself at your own game. You’ll never win. The truth is that the more you do, the more you’ll require from yourself.
So, there is only one way to deal with it…
I was trying to fight my guilt for a long time. I thought it was wrong to feel that way. No matter how hard I tried to fix it, it always came back.
So, I have finally given up and looked at it from a different angle. I have simply accepted it. I realized that this creative guilt is what makes me better and what pushes me to try harder and step out of my comfort zone.
It’s similar to a little stress, which can actually help you better respond in certain situations. Too much stress can be detrimental and unhealthy, but you can take advantage of a mild form of stress and put it to good use.
Once you accept your creative guilt, you can start treating it like a little competition and having some fun instead. Stop blaming yourself and instead focus on every small win.
After all, you shouldn’t feel guilty at all because…
You’re probably more productive than you think.
It’s funny how it works, but some people I know who have accomplished a lot in their life usually complain most about being unproductive.
It’s because they care and that’s what makes them remarkable. If you’re completely guilt-free, you may have lost that little voice in your head that helps you to do more than you think you’re able to.
You have to push through the pain to build the muscle. It’s that one hour of work after midnight that counts most.
You can’t be too hard on yourself either. There is a thin line between wanting to push harder to be productive and beating yourself up for not doing enough – that kind of guilt can really bring you down.
I’ve been there, but someone once told me:
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
I’m not sure who originally said that, but I think about this one sentence every time when some black clouds of unhealthy creative guilt gather above my head.
Don’t feel bad that you spent time with your family or friends instead of doing your creative work. It sounds ridiculous, but I have felt that way at some points in my life.
Doing what you like and enjoying wasting your time is actually crucial to becoming more productive in your work. I wrote a post three years ago that I often refer to and helps to remind myself to always focus on managing my energy, not my time.
Doing physical activities will help you be stronger and increase your energy to perform that extra work after hours.
Having good relationships with people you love will make you more happy which can positively affect your creativity. Watching another TV show or reading a book you like can bring you some new ideas and inspire your next great project.
In summary, embrace your small amount of creative guilt and take advantage of it. Use it to push your limits. Be aware that if you care about your productivity and time, you’re probably doing better than you think.
Finally, don’t let your creative guilt take away the fun and enjoyment from your life!