Time Management for Creatives
Melissa Ricker from Engineered Motherhood is our guest blogger today.
Read below as she gives us some great tips in time management.
I’ll be honest…I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination. I am an engineer. I don’t even know if I have a right hemisphere in my brain. I’m analytical, logical…and sometimes a little boring. I like numbers, and I like rules. Time management is easy for me. I set rules, and then I follow them.
One of my best friends is artistic. She is totally right brained, and I am jealous! She is creative and can make something beautiful out of two empty beer cans. She has more imagination in her pinky finger than I have in my entire body, but she can’t be on time to save her life. She misses deadlines and ends up pulling all-nighters to finish projects for work.
We are two very different people with very different strengths. So we try to help each other. She pushes me to think outside my little engineering box, and I help her manage her time more effectively.
Here are a few of the tips that I’ve given to my best friend that have worked for her. She can now make important meetings on time, and she is learning to prioritize her workload efficiently so that she can finish her tasks quickly and spend her energy on the things she loves. Perhaps these tips can help other creative spirits out there as well!
Write it Down
To-do lists are important for everyone, but creative personalities really benefit from having something concrete right in front of their eyes at all times. Write down your important tasks on a single sheet of paper each day. Prioritize the tasks so that the ones that MUST get done that day get done first. Save the ones that can slip if required to work on later in the day.
Put each of the tasks into one of the following four categories:
1) Tasks you DON’T want to do but HAVE to do. (i.e. writing a report that is due tomorrow)
2) Tasks you WANT to do and HAVE to Do (i.e. design a cover for the report that is due tomorrow)
3) Tasks you DON’T want to do but DON’T need to do (i.e. dropping the car off for an oil change)
4) Tasks you WANT to do but DON’T need to do (i.e. finish your personal painting)
Eat the Frog First
Mark Twain is famous for saying that if the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, you can finish out your day knowing that the worst part of your day is over.
When you start your day, you want to do the tasks that you don’t want to do but absolutely have to be completed
(category 1)…you need to eat your frog first thing in the morning. You aren’t motivated to do these tasks, and your willpower only gets weaker as the day goes on. These are the tasks that quickly become victim to procrastination. After you finish all of your frogs, you can move on to the tasks that you both want to do and need to do (category 2).
After you finish all of the things that need to be complete, you can move on to the things that don’t absolutely need to be complete that day. Move on to category #3. It is a smaller frog. You don’t want to drop your car off to get the oil changed, and it doesn’t absolutely need to be done today. But if it doesn’t get done today, it will just push to tomorrow. So do that task before moving on to category #4.
Even if your category 4 tasks don’t get started until late in the evening, you will still have the motivation to work on them because you want to work on it.
Learn to Say No
I don’t have as hard a time saying “no” as my friend does. She doesn’t like telling anyone “no.” She tells me it is because she wants people to like her, and she is afraid they will get mad if she tells them “no.”
Guess what happens to my poor friend? She gets taken advantage of. People now expect her to drop what she is doing and help them. She falls behind on her own work because she is always helping everyone else. She is a hard worker, but other people take the credit for her dedication.
It is great to help people. We all need to help others when we can. Sometimes though, we have to prioritize ourselves. It doesn’t mean that we can’t help, but it might mean we can’t help RIGHT NOW. By saying “no” to someone else, you say “yes” to yourself.
Repeat after me: “No, thank you!” See – you can still be polite when saying “no.”
Artistic and creative people work so hard. Sometimes in order to get more done, you just need to slow down. Be still. Take a break. Take an entire day off. The irony is that if you are well rested and refreshed, you will get a lot more done. That creative brain on your shoulders needs a time out. Don’t work so hard that you get burnt out or stressed. Recharge your batteries. You deserve it.
Creatives are often easily distracted. When they are working and notice something new, they tend to start thinking about it. My friend tells me that she will be in the middle of a task at work and suddenly something will give her an idea. She will abandon the task and start doodling on a napkin…without really even noticing it.
Try working in an area that is boring. Try to eliminate as many distractions as you can. Leave your phone in your desk. Work in uninterruptable chunks of time. Set a timer, and don’t stop working on your current task until either you finish it or your timer goes off.
Artists and creative thinkers are often spontaneous and fun. These are the qualities I love about my best friend (and am jealous of). I don’t ever want her to change. In fact, I wish she would rub off a little on me! With a little bit of planning and willpower, she is able to manage her time more effectively which means that she can fit more into her life. We all need a little efficiency built into our routines, no matter which side of the brain we use more often!
Melissa Ricker is a nuclear engineer and professional writer. She is also a mother to a beautiful baby boy. She owns a blog, Engineered Motherhood, where she writes for working mothers and career minded women. She offers productivity tips, time management hacks, and career advice to women that are trying to balance motherhood and a successful career.
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Special Thanks to Melissa Ricker for participating as a Guest Blogger!
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