5 Time Management Tips For Creative People

View Comments by Bianca Board on 19 December 2013

When I was 10 I started making and selling crafts at the local market. I got the bug for an entrepreneurial life as soon as I made my first sale. How easy it seemed! You make a thing and then sell a thing; then you take some profits for you and put the rest back into the business and... start over again.

Of course it gets a lot more complicated when you start a professional graphic design agency; but I bet you know that already, huh?

I was a design hamster on a wheel.

As a freelancer I had to learn to wear a lot of hats; I had to do my own admin (ergh) and pay the bills on time. I had to be business-savvy and judge every task against a time versus profits matrix (and I often got it wrong!). I was juggling client expectations and business needs and my own needs for some downtime, plus I was fighting my own disorganisation demons at the same time.

My 10 year old self would NOT have been happy with all that stress and worry.

The answer, I thought, was to run faster, but do you know what I achieved? A big, fat nothing! I wasn't getting anywhere; I was a design-hamster on a wheel.

But then...

I’ve already blogged about how I realised that my faulty mindset was the biggest reason why I wasn’t achieving the financial freedom I’d hoped for. Now I'd kicked my inner demons to the curb I had my laser beam eye set on success. But there was one more hurdle to overcome: Time management! So this is what came next....  

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I learned 5 simple tips.

1/ Get the right tools

No matter HOW ready for success I was, I wasn’t getting anywhere if I didn’t have the right time management tools to back me up. Getting the right system totally saved me; and it can save you too.

Now, before I jump in I have to warn you, I can’t tell you which time management technique is going to work best for you. My advice is to review all the best ones, try one, give it your all for a month and then review.

TIP: A window of calm in your work day it not an opportunity for rest. It’s an opportunity to get a jump on your big list of to-dos!

If you get lucky and have a lull in your day, don’t decide it’s a perfect time to go shopping, you’re here to work freelancer! get straight onto the next task because I can almost guarantee something urgent will pop up that destroys your whole week. So keep that pace cracking.

How many hours or days you work is up to you. But when you’re at work stay in work-mode, right up until you leave the office!

Since I'm a digital girl, here’s some time saving apps which may help you:

2/ Diarise tasks against set times (or don't).

There’s nothing worse than feeling like your day is cast in stone, it’s hard to be a responsive business owner that way. On the other hand, if you don’t have a mind for time you could easily float around and be unprofitable.  

I used to plan out my day in 15 minute intervals. It was effective a lot of the time, especially for reminding yourself of what I was supposed to be doing. Then again, I’d sometimes have to replot my diary several times as urgent new tasks cropped up.

The downside of being this rigid is you will feel like you've lost the battle as soon as something urgent AND important pops up... because it will!

I'm leaning towards David Allen’s idea; he authored ‘Getting Things Done’. His recommendation is that you never schedule your tasks into a calendar unless your day never changes… and if your day never changes, I want your life! ;-)

You just focus on your top priority and work down your list. You do need to be disciplined and hold yourself accountable with this method, but I assume you want to succeed or you wouldn't be reading this!

3/ Reinvent your schedule.

  • Put first things first.

  • Focus on tasks that assist your business goals

  • Don’t buy into urgent but unimportant tasks.

  • Throw out everything that is trivial from your list.

  • Prioritise the rest.

4/ Prioritise for success

All time management masters say prioritising tasks is crucial. Know what matters to you and your business. Know what you’re doing now, and what you need to do next. That’s the way to focus all your creative energy towards what really matters: your success!

Learn to say NO.

Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Say it to anything or anyone that doesn’t serve you or your business

I’m an overachiever too, but I’ve learnt the power of saying no. If you say yes to every project and every request then you’re not in control, they are. If you take too much on then you won’t do anything well. Start putting out crappy work because you’re rushing and what happens? Your reputation will suffer, your morale will suffer and you’ll start hating your business.  

5/ Learn from the best

I'd be nowhere without some sagely advice. I've devoured entire books, courses and seminars on this stuff, and it's certainly made me a better businesswoman. Here’s some advice from some of the masters of productivity.

Marie Forleo, Life & Business Coach, says:

  • Be friends with time, don’t be adversarial with it.

  • Make your morning routine non-negotiable

  • Work out and never blow yourself off

  • Do what’s important before new distractions

  • Work YOUR way.

David Allen of Getting Things Done says:

  • Don’t keep tasks in your head, get everything onto a big list

  • Break your task down into all the actions required,

  • Don’t cast your day in stone (unless your day never changes!)

  • Know what’s most important and get that done first.

  • If it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now. Otherwise delegate it or defer it.

Richard Branson, everyone’s favourite entrepreneur, says

  • Delegate everything you can

  • Exercise

  • speak instead of email

  • Work in intense bursts

  • Always have a notepad handy

Tim Ferris of The 4-Hour Workweek says:

  • Practice decision-free living. Set rules for yourself and stick to them

  • Create a support group of kindred spirits who are struggling too

  • Apply the 80/20 rule. Do tasks that contribute to the majority of your results

  • Only check your email once a day

  • Automate and outsource where possible

Marissa Myers, CEO of Yahoo!, says:

  • Embrace the long to-do list, don’t be overwhelmed by it

  • Don’t let the urgent drown out the important

  • Ruthlessly prioritize your ‘to-do’ list

  • Work as hard as you need to get it done, but

  • Know what recharges you, and never sacrifice it

Now, I may not have the fame of the guys up above, but because this is MY blog, I'm going to add my final words too.

Bianca Board, your humble blogger, says:

  • Work out, energise your mind.

  • Create processes for all your main tasks.

  • Find time saving tools for all your repetitive tasks

  • Commit to your priorities

  • Get a life coach!

So, what’s most important in your day today? 
Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. I hope this has motivated you to help yourself and get time managed. But, hey if you’re still determined to fluff around and waste time, here’s some great Ted talks to help you procrastinate. Don't say I never do anything for you! :)

What do you think? Share your comments below.


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