Catch Up on Creative Projects with a Creative Staycation

I’m on day 7 of my third creative staycation. Instead of taking a traditional vacation or even a traditional staycation, I took time off work and stayed home to catch up on artistic projects. (I have more vacation time than my partner, so I would have taken time off without him regardless; I chose to take advantage of the time for my own projects.)

I recommend a creative staycation for pushing through creative blocks or making progress on creative projects that require a lot of energy or a long period of concentrated time.

Planning for a Creative Staycation

Set yourself up for success by planning ahead:

  • Take enough time off that you can really get some work done; a three-day weekend isn’t long enough. Twice I took a full week off work, the third time I took three days off attached to a weekend.
  • List tasks that you’d like to accomplish. Estimate how long each task will take so you can plan out your days. Allot eight hours of project time each day, just like a typical workday.
  • Pick one or a couple bigger projects rather than lots of little projects. Little projects are doable after work; larger projects that take a big block of concentration or effort are better for this extended time period.
  • But! Pick at least one project that you can complete a ‘deliverable’ by the end of your time off. On my current staycation, I designed some business cards that I’d been putting off for months, as well as the final draft of an essay I’d been working on for over a month.

Get in the Right Mindset for Your Creative Staycation

  • Accept that you probably won’t get as much done as you hope or plan. I’ve discovered I’m bad at estimating how long tasks will take to finish,
  • Have confidence in the value of your creative work, and your right to work on it. Your coworkers might not take a creative staycation as seriously as a traditional vacation. Make it clear that you’re not available to work. Likewise, make it clear to your family members who are still working that you’re not spending the week catching up on ‘honey-do’ lists.

Tips for a Successful Creative Staycation

Accomplish a lot

  • Treat the time like a workday. Don’t get sucked into cleaning the house, wandering wikipedia, running errands, or rewatching all of Battlestar Galactica.
  • Try the Pomodoro Technique to keep you on task.
  • If possible, leave the house and its distractions and go work somewhere else for a few hours. (The library, a coffee shop, a local park — I like to walk down to Lake Washington, half a mile from my house, and sit on a bench overlooking a natural area.)

Don’t get burned out

  • Get out of the house at least once a day. This has the added benefit of forcing you to get dressed ;D
  • Don’t forget to exercise! Walk around the neighborhood, take a hike, go to lap swim, run somewhere new.

and have some fun!

  • This is also your vacation — build in some time for relaxation. Read a book, watch a movie, get a massage, take a bath, sleep in.
  • Leave yourself time to work on an unplanned creative project. Your creative juices will be flowing and you may get inspired to start a new project. If you’re scheduled to write but you feel like drawing, go for it. During one creative staycation, I gave myself a whole day for a photographic excursion, and reveled in having as much time to photograph as I wanted.
  • Pick one new place to visit, whether it’s attending an art exhibit in another city or hiking somewhere new a couple hour drive away. Or try a new activity that you’ve never had time to fit in. On my current staycation, I took an Indian cooking class.

At the end of your creative staycation, write up everything you accomplished, as well as any new ideas you thought of. Make note of anything to do differently next time.

Have you ever taken a creative staycation? Share your tips below!

About Tracy Durnell

Seattle-area graphic designer and SFF writer inspired by the Pacific Northwest, crafting a sustainable and intentional life.

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