Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time Management for Creative Types

By David Rodriguez
As the Internet develops and the world's economic situation changes, creative professionalism in the form of freelance work is becoming a viable option for many of us.
But while most of us creative professionals excel in our craft, many of us find it difficult to balance the business side of things. Writing, art, and other forms of composition are abstract; they challenge us and enable us to create, which we tend to enjoy. Business is all about hard numbers and time management, which couldn't be more different from the free-floating creativity that we all use every day.

Time management is important for us and it's good to realize that the old saying is true: "time is money." Many potential freelancers are turned away by the thought of having to manage the business element, but in reality time management is much easier to maintain than you might think.

Keep a whiteboard.
Get a whiteboard from your local office supply store and mount it on your wall. Every morning, write your to-do list on it. Start from the top and start crossing things off.

Outline on paper.
If you are a writer, it may be tempting to skip the outlining process and just write from scratch. Some individuals can work this way, but for most of us, it's faster and more productive to outline. Also, it may be tempting to write your outline on your computer, but do yourself a favor and get in the habit of outlining on paper. On paper, you will feel more "mobile" and not so much like you're nailed to your computer chair all day.

Maintain a clean workspace.
When your eye picks up clutter, your brain has to spend time actively ignoring it. Keep things organized and you can work smoothly.

Early and often.
When it comes to your e-mail or your voice mail, check it early in the day, and check it often. You never want to keep a client waiting, and you'll feel good about getting things done.

The general idea behind all these tips is to keep your brain from having to think by not letting thoughts "back up" in your mental pipeline. If you keep your to-do list in the back of your head all day, and you're surrounded by clutter, and there's the worry that you haven't checked your e-mail yet, you obviously cannot create effectively.
But if you are in a clean environment and everything you have to do is written on your whiteboard, your brain is free to do what you do best: create.