On a day in the late 1990s, Michael Nobbs was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
It’s this debilitating illness where he suffers from “severe fatigue, pain in his muscles and joins, disordered sleep, and more.” Despite his passion for art and drawing, the illness makes it hard for Michael to find much time for anything.
Time is short for a lot of us, energy as well, but no matter how little time or energy we have, it’s nothing compared to what Michael has to go through on a daily basis. If he’s not resting with a cup of tea, he’s either working or, well, resting.
Yet, Michael is a successful creative.
Michael’s even published a number of books about drawing and about doing creative work despite a lack of energy or time. His most recent book is a must have for any artist, illustrator, or pursuer of a creative life. It’s called: Drawing Your Life, and was made one page at a time.
Michael is doing the creative work he loves (and he’s succeeding at it), even with a debilitating illness that saps him of both time and energy, more so than many of us.
If he can live his creative dream with so little energy, what’s your excuse?
I reached out to Michael to get his tips on staying productive despite having little time and energy. Here’s his three ways to stay productive without a lot of time or energy:
1. Work little, but often
Achievements happen one small step at time.
It may seem boring, but it’s by turning up every day and doing just a little work that we finish projects and build a career out of our creative abilities. I made Drawing Your Life a page a time and mostly in twenty minute chunks of time.
If you haven’t got the energy for a twenty minute chunk of creative work, try ten minutes or even five. Repeat regularly (those minutes add up).
2. Keep your tools simple and always at hand
By keeping the tools you need to work on your current creative project as simple as possible – and always at hand – you’ll easily be able to pick up and put down your work at a moments notice.
This means you won’t be wasting your precious time or energy in getting ready to work!
3. Focus on just one thing at a time
Focus on just one creative project at a time and work on it until you’ve finished.
There’s nothing worse for low creative morale than being surrounded by unfinished projects. By focusing on one thing until you’ve completed it you’ll learn to trust in you abilities and build momentum.