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6 Ways to Be More Productive for creatives

July 7th, 2016

6 Ways to Be More Productive for creatives

I canít be organized! Iím an ARTIST!

There is a long-standing stereotype that creative people are not organized or productive; that our minds donít work that way and that if we add structure to our day it will hinder our artistic process. Schedules and calendars are for analytical types, not creatives. You canít plan to be creative it has to happenówhen inspiration strikes. Iíve hidden behind those lies a bunch of times and my to-list has always been a mile long.

ButÖ what if being organized and managing time well was actually a good thing?

If I look back on my day and feel that my time was wasted and that I accomplished nothing, or next to nothing, on my list I feel guilty. After all, time is precious and the whole point of having the freedom that I have is to do something good with it. I have goals that I am passionate about reaching and by being disorganized I was getting nowhere. As I wasted time, a day turned into a week, a week into a month, and so on, and before I knew it all this time had gone by and I hadnít accomplished much.

A friend pointed out the other day (when speaking of her own photography) that if she didnít take her work seriously how could she expect anyone else to do so? I couldnít agree more. But by nature Iím not the most organized or productive person, so Iíve come up with ways to manage my time better and now at the end of the day I can look back and see that Iíve made progress. These are the things Iíve done:

ē Remember my why. Itís easy for me to get distracted and think ďIíll finish it tomorrowĒ but if I remember why Iím doing all of this it keeps me going rather than procrastinating. Remembering my purpose is by far the most effective motivator I have found.
ē Trained myself to keep a calendar, update it, and look at it daily. I have blocks of time designated for certain things and I do my best to stick to them. It took me a while to acquire the habit, but once I did I found that I instinctively know that, for example, Tuesday mornings I work on XYZ and I just get started without hesitation.

ē Overestimate how long something will take to finish. If I add too many things to my list of to-doís, and I fool myself into thinking they wonít take long, nine times out of ten they take longer and I fall behind. To avoid that I add an extra 15 minutes/half hour in between time blocks.
ē Anything that doesnít get done one day, gets moved to the next, but I have to admit some tasks get moved to the next, and the next, and the next, before they get done.
ē Organize my work areas. Papers have a sneaky way of reproducing on every horizontal surface in my office so once a week I take time to clear stuff out. A cluttered space leads to cluttered thoughts and time wasted looking for stuff. Disclaimer: with school ending my office is a disaster at the moment but Iím going to take care of it very soon.
ē Say no. Maybe a certain project isnít really in my wheelhouse, or if I take on one more thing everything else will suffer. Many of us are afraid to say ďnoĒ because we want to make everyone happy and Iím still guilty of that to some degree. But many times when I say ďyesĒ because I feel like I have to, I end up regretting it. Even though it was a scary thing to do in the beginning, I learned that people (for the most part) donít get as upset as I feared.

This isnít fool-proof process, but it works for me. Everyone is different and what works for some wonít for others, but if I can find a way to be more productive, anyone can. Thatís not to say I donít get distracted and go down an internet rabbit hole only to come up an hour later. It happens. The point is, by paying attention to how I spend my time Iím treating my photography like itís important to me (which it is) and Iíve made growing my business a priority.