There should be more lessons on time management for artists. I think we creative types especially struggle with it, from struggling to make time to start a project all the way to getting so in the creative zone we loose time and are confused when our stomach gets angry because we haven’t eaten for 6 hours.
Time management is something I’ve been working really hard on for myself for the last year. And now I’m slowly trying to impart what I’ve learned on to those around me. Trust me, your life will be better for focusing on it!
In the interest of keeping the theme of time management and using my own time effectively, this post is only partially going to be my thoughts and what works for me, and otherwise it is made up of links to some great articles and videos that cover all the key points I would have wanted to. Why take the time to reinvent the wheel?
Time is your most valuable asset. You can’t buy more, build more, or get it back once it’s gone (unless you have a Time-Turner, Phone Booth, TARDIS, DeLorean, or HG Well’s original time machine). It’s tempting to just go, go, go to the point of exhaustion – trust me, I fully understand and I’ve done it.
But it’s actually counter-productive to work the way many of us creatives work…science has shown that the longer hours you work, the less productivity you have. And on top of that, more hours equals more stress and more health problems.
That’s all fine and good, but for those of us who don’t punch a clock, and whose success depends on our output, how do we manage our time effectively?
What works for me
Block big projects and tasks into smaller chunks. Focus on one piece at a time, and set timers for work. Ideally, set timers for 50 minutes per task. Focus for those 50 minutes, then when time is up, stop, stretch, walk around, have a snack, check Facebook. After a 10 minute break, set your timer for another 50 minutes.
Plan out your week. Pre-planning, especially at first, feels like it takes forever – time you could be doing something else. But in the long run it will help, because you’ll know everything on your plate and will be able to plan your time accordingly. List all your tasks and commissions and contracts – anything you’re committed to doing for your creative biz. Once everything is listed, start prioritizing. Set deadlines for yourself on open-ended projects. Take the top couple priorities, and put them into your schedule for this week. If you finish all of them? Go back to your master list for the next highest priority, and so on.
Track your time. We all have a tendency to underestimate the time it takes us to complete projects. Oh, it’s just a basic sketch, I can do that in an hour….and 4 hours of nitpicking, erasing, re-drawing later… Basically, for a while, you want to document how long it actually takes you to do tasks. Then you can look back at this record and get a better idea of what amount of time things normally take, and you can adjust your planning (and commission rates) accordingly.
Articles, Videos, and Resources, oh my!
Hopefully, something in here helps you master at least one little bit of your time!