Whether it’s a craft project or you are fortunate to secure a creative career, being able to manage time and tasks is a big deal. Most jobs require employees and managers to perform basic tasks, such as being able to stay organized, take care of their health and communicate effectively in tandem with continuing their skillset.
At first it may seem like someone with a creative career or growing hobby is less structured, more sporadic, or that they have advantages over someone working in a more common work environment.
However, creatives have a way of becoming so dedicated to seeing a project through that surface advantages may become a block to their very livelihood: their creativity.
Time management should not be ignored, especially in creative careers. Poor planning may cause bigger problems to arise such as lost communication from valuable sources, health problems, working way too many hours and causing creativity burnout.
Here are a few tips to prevent this from happening to you.
Start the week with a plan.
It’s Monday. There are pages of files not put away because of much-deserved time off after working a six-day work week. Email is overflowing, and you’re certain you’ve deleted that important message from a lead client. You feel sick because you haven’t been eating well. Who has time to cook when you could be working?
Also, your three points daily checklist goes out the window when a co-worker needs your guidance to work out details of a project at the last minute.
As soon as you’re aware you have an hour of time to think about your schedule and upcoming events for the next week, outline touch-points as a day-by-day reminder. You may even do this as you go, and keep lists with reminders and alarms on Wunderlist or another app. An hour is a small price to pay, especially when due dates and deadlines are looming.
The point is to be aware of what is ahead. After adjusting the reminders a few times, you’ll have a fail-proof routine.
Busy doesn’t always equal productivity. I like how Kory Kogon author of The Five Choices distinguishes “busy” from “productive” in this video on inc.com.
Reserve thirty minutes to file away emails and messages every week.
If you’re unable to manage that, take fifteen-minute breaks daily, to ensure your files are in backup storage files and are sorted. Gmail requires users to make use of folders, tags, and favorites to sort. If convinced your computer is on the verge of crashing while typing an important document, set up a free account on Dropbox as a backup on the cloud. Double save files. The only drawback to this system is that you have to be consistent saving files to your main saving source plus remember to back up the file on Dropbox time. Once you’re in the habit of keeping a filing backup system, you won’t have to worry about recovering files or paying someone to do it for you. Instead, you could buy your dog a year worth of treats so this doesn’t happen or buy ridiculous items like the tiny broom slipper.
Write email responses or messages ahead of time and send them at the beginning of the following work week.
Set an alarm for every couple of hours (or your preferred time increment) to remind you to get up and walk around if you have a sedentary job at a computer or sitting constantly.
Walk for 15 at least twice a day. The health benefits of walking is far better than the risk that comes with always sitting without exercise–blood clots, heart desease, and diabetes are leading health complications related to not exercising. (American Heart Association.)
Pre-prepare super simple meals ahead of time.
Quinoa can be prepared in five minutes, is gluten free, and packs protein to keep a stomach full. There is instant oatmeal, and add raisins, Splenda sweetener, or berries (unthawed in the fridge overnight) to enhance a bland breakfast into morning fuel.
Oatmeal is one of the wonder foods in whole grains and has been proven to curb high-cholestorol.
Coffee is usually good in moderation, but some side-effects like ulcers can cause discomfort. Also, caffeine is addictive. Instead try this: eat an apple. No joke. This works every time. Sure, it will take time to get used to, but it’s better than keeling over in pain from an ulcer.
How you like them apples? (quote from the movie Good Will Hunting.)
Make a brief outline of the week ahead, even if you get off track.
Daily checklists are bound to be rearranged and moved around unless your sole mission is to be a robot. The fact is, we’re humans (gasp) I know. Surprise, surprise.
Image Source, Jo Gibney
So it’s good to note to pre-write those emails even if you don’t get around to it. Set reminders to take care of the most pressing issues on the days when you know you’ll have a pocket of time to deal with them. Preferably not on lunch break. Take lunch with a friend or watch a favorite show or read a physical book. Start a creative hobby you want to excel at and take note of your progress. Maybe join a creative community in real life or a nearby city.
You’ll be surprised at how encouraging it is to do a different type of creative project and be great at it. Soon the creativity starts flowing; the creativity blocks aren’t quite as high, and the less-stressed side of you is free to deal with the issue at hand:
What the Kardashians are doing today.
Oh, no. Wait. That’s not it.
What is for dinner.
Hmm. Probably good to know, but what I mean to say is:
Don’t give up, plan for the best, and if it doesn’t turn out right, keep creating something and being proactive until it happens.
Tiny Disclaimer: I’m not a weight-loss, health, or time-management guru by any means, but the tips in this post are brought to you by things that work in my own sometimes chaotic life.
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