Time management is a skill everyone should develop and varies for each person. The notion that creatives rely on random inspiration and fly by the seat of their pants is simply not true. To be efficient and effective as a creative you need to have a time management system in place. I have outlined a few principles in time management that will help you set up your own schedule for optimal performance.
Find the best time to do your work.
Routine is your best friend when you are a creative. That being said, figure out what time of day your creative juices flow. Spend that time doing your creative work, don’t use this time for answering emails or having meetings. All of that can wait. When you are at your creative peak work, work, work.
Set aside time for distractions.
Yes, plan distractions into your day, but make sure you are carving out distraction free time.For example, I work in sprints, concentrating hard for 45 mins, break to attend to urgencies (email, texts, tweets etc) for 10-15 mins and then return for another hard 45 minutes of concentration. Having a routine allows me to be distracted throughout the day, all while remaining productive.
Work harder not longer.
Do not waste time spinning your wheels. I had a design professor who told us to never pull an all nighter; rather, get your sleep and begin again fresh. If you pull an all nighter or work hard without breaking for several hours, chances are you are spinning your wheels. This will not create added value to the work you are doing. You need to be fresh and able to think clearly to work well.
A good way to avoid spinning your wheels is rotating your work. If you are stuck, switch projects or take a break and then come back to the project you later. Always work fresh, it is easier to catch mistakes in your work and come up with new creative ideas.
Prioritize your work and your day. Every morning before work starts, make a list or spend some time thinking about what needs your attention most. Consider your deadlines are, and then think about what you should do during your first sprint.
Again, work fresh, work in sprints, schedule in distraction and distraction free time, set your attention to your priorities, and work the most in times when you know you work best.
Schedule skill development.
Keep learning and make time for it. Design is constantly in flux so to be efficient and effective you must know your medium and spend time keeping up with it. Also, know your resources and make them easy to get to. I take time to find good resources that I can go back to again and again. I have found good blogs and magazines that I know will keep me up to date and on trend. I keep these resources in the bookmarks tab in my browser so they are easily accessible. Make your go-to resources easy to find.
Time management is a necessary skill for success. My schedule may look different from the next person’s but these components of time management should exist in everyone’s schedule. Use these guidelines to figure out what works best for you.