6 ways to find time to draw when you are busy

finding time to draw header image

Drawing can be therapeutic, exciting, and enjoyable. Whether you are trying to improve your skills or just drawing for fun, adding some creativity into your daily life is never be a bad thing. However, with the hectic lifestyles that many of us lead, it may be hard to squeeze in some time to draw. Still, if you are really keen and are willing to try things out, you will be able to find some time to put drawing into your daily routine.

As an art student, I am grateful for the fact that drawing is something I have to do every day. However, before I was an art student and was studying computing science at University, I struggled to find time to draw as well. I’ve tried different ways to draw more and some worked while some didn’t. However, I was able to draw almost daily despite my busy schedules.

If you are reading this post, that means you’re probably struggling with finding time to draw like Iย used to. Just like you, I’ve searched the internet for ways to find more time to draw. Here are some ways you can try to find some time in your day to draw, some of which I have tried myself:

wake up earlier

1. Wake up earlier

Waking up earlier to draw seems to be a simple solution. But make sure you are not depriving your sleep because of it. Waking up just half an hour earlier will let you get some drawing done. If you usually sleep late at night, try to get into a habit of sleeping earlier so you won’t jeopardise your sleep when you get up earlier to draw.

I tried to wake up an hour earlier to draw when I was studying computing. I tried it out for a few weeks and I find myself getting really tired throughout the rest of the day. So this method didn’t really work out for me. Guess I’m just not a morning person. Still, everyone’s different, some people can handle waking up earlier in the morning and some people may need fewer hours of sleep than others, try this method out for yourself and it might just work for you.

2.Set up your environment

If you are able to set up an environment where drawing can be easily carried out, you wouldn’t think twice about starting to draw when you have some free time.

Setting up your environment where your art materials are within reach can help you start drawing quicker. If you have to search for your sketchbook and pencils every time you decide to draw, the thought of the time and effort of trying to find your art materials and settling down on a table before drawing and putting everything away at the end may put you off. So if you have everything put neatly at an easily reachable place where it’ll only take a few seconds for you to start drawing, you will feel more inclined to do so. It will be even better if you can allocate a specific area where you’ll use just for drawing, this will save you even more time setting up and putting things away.

3. Just 5 minutes is ok

When you have a busy schedule, you may feel that every minute is precious and you wouldn’t want to waste any time and deviate from your plans. You may feel like anytime you spend on drawing will be taking away time from something else you’ve planned to do. However, from my experience, most of the time that’s not the case and you may have more time than you think. You may think that just 5 minutes of drawing is not worth it, but 5 minutes is pretty easy to spare. Once you actually start drawing, you’ll realise that you’ll end up drawing way more than 5 minutes. If you are truly out of time and are really busy and worried about losing track of time when drawing then set a timer to the maximum time you can spare.

4. listen to a podcast or video when drawing

If you watch a lot of TV, you may consider trying to draw when watching the TV, however, it is easy to lose yourself in the visually stimulating TV programmes and forget about the drawing part. You can then try listening to a podcast or a video with mostly commentaries that are not mainly visually based so you won’t lose your attention from drawing. I find this method works well for me and keeps me more concentrated and focused on drawing longer compared to if I’m just drawing without listening to anything. I usually put on a podcast or commentary videos on youtube when I’m drawing, sometimes I get so engrossed in the drawing that I forget to listen to what’s happening in the podcast or the video!

This method may not work well for you if you find yourself being distracted by videos and end up binge-watching a series of something without much progress on your artwork. So just try it out and see if it works for you!

5. Bring a sketchbook with you when outside

You may not realise it, but when we are outside, at work, lectures or others, there are opportunities where we can use to draw for a bit:

  • When waiting for lecturers to arrive
  • During lunch breaks
  • When your friend’s running late for a meetup
  • On bus/ train rides (unless you get motion sickness easily )
  • Any other time you find free time on your hands

When I went to lectures at University, it is very common for the lecturers to be a bit late or for me to arrive at the lecture theatre a little early. This is a perfect time for some doodling! I also had one or two hours of break between lectures and obviously, I don’t need that much time to eat, so with my remaining time, I’d catch up on some work or draw something.

During long travels on a plane or train, I’d always bring a sketchbook with me to draw or a book to read, it’s a good way to spend your time on long journeys. However, I get motion sickness on buses easily so I don’t draw when I’m on buses.

Next time when you are outside, try to be more conscious of pockets of free time that you get, take note of them and see if you can use the time for some quick drawings.

6. Adding it to your schedules

Allocating a certain amount of time in your day for drawing is a good way to draw every day. By setting a time to draw, drawing becomes a task that you have to do and you will take the activity more seriously, just like the other things that you have to do during the day. If you usually plan your schedule for the next day the night before, you can vary the amount of time for drawing depending on how busy you are on the day. If you plan your schedule weekly, try to plan the drawing time during the part of the day where you have the least amount of things to do.

Once you’ve put drawing into your schedules, try to commit to them like any other task in your schedule.


So these are some ways you can try to add drawing into your daily life more. Not all of them may work for you but some definitely will! When you find something that works for you, keep at it and I’m sure you’ll be able to draw a lot more and enjoy yourself while doing so. If your goal is to improve your drawing skills, check out my post on ways to improve your drawing skills.

I hope you’ve found something useful from this post and are able to draw more in your life.

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16 Responses

  1. Well I have to confess the last time I tried drawing was back in school. yes I totally agree that drawing can be very relaxing but finding the time can prove difficult. Really interesting idea’s you have outlined as to how one can try and make time, I have to say the sleep method would never work for me as I’m a late sleeper but the taking a notebook out with me on my daily travels would work for me . I shall be trying this method and look forward to seeing how I get on, I might even cheat and see if there’s a drawing app on my phone.

    1. Thankyou! Hope the notebook method works for you. I think using a drawing app on your phone is also a good idea and you won’t need to carry a sketchbook with you.

  2. Hello mary, thanks so much for sharing the well detailed and informative article. Drawing is an art that is enjoyable and fun to do, and to me it is more than just a hobby it is becoming a dream that i want to live. I have been drawing since i was little but haven’t being serious about it because i felt its time consuming, but reading your article has given me an insight and would serve as guide. Its require planning, creativity and constant practice.

    thanks so much for sharing this post, am delighted to read it.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Hope you’ll try out some of the tips and be able to draw more ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Nice article, I also really love to draw because while drawing I don’t get any negative thoughts and I feel happier while drawing all of my stress will be reduced. I also stopped drawing because there is no time and I would be busy. This article really helped me by giving the tips that I could again start drawing even I am busy.

    Thank you for sharing such useful information, good job.

  4. Very useful tips Mary Li! I find myself more of a night person meaning my creativity flows better at night. 

    I studied graphic design many many years ago but my professional path deviated to another direction. 

    I want to do some drawing again but with a family and my new business now it’s a bit hard. 

    Yet, with these advice you give I’ll try to slip at least 5-10 min daily for a quick sketch or something and definitely I’ll have to put a timer on because I get too “obsessed” and focus when I draw/paint.

    Setting the mood and environment as you said definitely helps, I also would recommend having your artist materials at hand, I keep mine in boxes which are separated by “categories”. 

    I keep the watercolour paints and paper separate to paper for drawing and coloured pencils and pens. This way I know where to find them quickly and they are not on the table or anywhere where my toddler can grab (destroy) them!

    So thank you for your tips, they come very handy!


    1. HI! Nice to hear that my post has helped you. I think it’s good that you keep things organised, it’s a good habit.

  5. This was an article that I really was looking for, as it is so hard to squeeze in some time to draw. The 6 ways you have included all will work, for me some are more practical as my busy times vary from the normal 9-5 office hours many may live with. I can be working at midnight through early morning, and again from early afternoon to the evening hours…

    The three ways that will work best for me (and ones I will try) are the waking up earlier (I get up early anyway), adding it to my schedule, and setting up the environment. The other three are also good suggestions that will work for many people too. 

    The three I will try kind of all go together well and they can be implemented in one fell swoop. I am an organized person so having everything I need at the ready will be no trouble or extra work, and if I build the time early in the morning it can become routine.

    Since I do really enjoy the drawing time I allow myself, it will be a great way to start the day. I will likely do more than 5 minutes, I am thinking 20-30 minutes would not be too taxing. I can add it to my morning coffee time, and still get that in too. I need that coffee! Thanks for the suggestions, they will help!

    1. Thanks for the comment! Hope you’ll enjoy your new found drawing time ๐Ÿ˜€ 

  6. Hi Mary,

    Some good options there to open up some time to draw more where possible.

    I have never been a brilliant artist by any means, but I have tended to keep a little notepad or even post it notes handy whilst working in the office or at home, just in case I got the urge to draw or make a pattern of some kind.

    It even came in handy when I was struggling with some work, by using a post it note and drawing some shapes or other things, it often acted as a form of brainstorming exercise that helped me think more clearly.

    With a young family now, I make time to draw with my children, as they obviously love drawing, writing and coming up with stuff.

    1. Hi! Good to hear that you keep a notepad with you for drawing. Glad that it works for you. I think it’s really nice that you spend time drawing with your children, i think it’s good for family bonding as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Great ideas on how to fund time to draw. I suck at drawing. So even if I had the time I would do other things than draw. However, I admire people who are skilled at drawing. If I could learn to draw that would be very cool. Can you point me in the right direction? 

    I have talented nieces who are superb at art. One draws amazingly well. She started in the Manga genre and branched out. The other draws patterns before transferring them to glass through etching. 

    Would you say that drawing can be therapeutic and have a calming effect? Music and drama are often used as avenues to express oneself. Drawing has not been as much in the forefront. I could be wrong but that is how it seems to me.

    Anyway, if someone has a talent for drawing they should definitely make the time to draw. And you gave great tips to find that time.

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment. Every artist draws bad when they first start, I’m sure you’ll be able to improve after more practice! There are many ways to learn how to draw, you can buy books, take online courses or take actual art classes. I started out watching YouTube tutorial videos which were very helpful, I still do watch a lot of them, they are free too so it’s also the cheapest way if you’re not wanting to spend lots of money on learning how to draw. Some artist I watch on YouTube are Bobby Chiu, Lachri Fine Art and Draw Mix Paint. Hope this helps ๐Ÿ™‚

      I do believe that drawing can be therapeutic and calming. I think people can express their emotions through art and drawing. I think it’s similar to when people write things down to feel better. 

  8. No time is an excuse that I hear almost every day when the reality is that we can always find time to do things we want. It’s because many times we spend precious minutes in doing things we think are important when they really aren’t. If you want to make time and you are determined to do so find some free time for that is always possible. I like your suggestions and only if you organize your work accordingly you can achieve to fit everything. Nice read.

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