Monday, March 12, 2018

Time Management for Overly Creative Folks

I have a tendency to load my writing desks full of assignments and schedule as much as humanly possible into one week. Last week, I was asked if I find this overwhelming.

Well, no.

Because I'm a planner.

This also tends to make people erroneously think that I have no hobbies. I do.

I trail run, hike, read, love music and film and bake and cook. I also blog.

What I don't do is "hang out" or waste time. If something doesn't benefit me, I don't do it

That is one of the keys to not getting overwhelmed. I enjoy how I spend my time and I only spend my time doing things I enjoy with people I enjoy.

Some folks may not enjoy what it takes to run a business. I do. I can tell you now that those who don't enjoy it should stick to working for someone else. That's not snarky, just true.

But how about the folks who want to fit it all in, whether working for someone else or themself? You know, without being overwhelmed. The answer isn't earth shattering. You have to plan your time. I do.

You have to find the method right for you, then write it all down. There's a lot to choose from now:

Lists alone don't work for me. Neither does staid or boring. I tried a leather, ring bound Franklin Covey. I rocked a really loud Lisa Frank journal. I went through a flowery coffee table book style weekly planner phase. I made my own pages by hand for a while. I made my own pages on the computer. Ironically, in my efforts to find the perfect planner for me, I finally tried the brand my Dad had used years ago. I bought a basic black Brownline with a spiral binding and I tricked that sucker out on the inside.

At 5" x 7", it fits in my messenger bag, but leaves me plenty of writing space. It provides time slots every 30 minutes from 7 am to 7:30 pm. I turned all three call out boxes at the bottom of each page into to do areas. I draw in extra boxes - in color. Yep. I am so anal that I color code my to dos and appointments.

I scrapbook on every page. I love stickers. I have fun with my planner and planning which is why I actually use it.

I only allocate specific times to appointments and project deadlines. The to do list takes care  of the rest. As long as I make deadline, which keeps my clients happy and me paid, I don't worry about it.

I also know how long it takes me to write a specific number of words roughly, so I can ballpark time between deadlines pretty well. That isn't magic. I timed each activity one day for three different common article types. That also let me know I should charge more for an article on cryptocurrency than on fashion.

My daily to do list features the same  ten items. Some can happen any day, some have to happen every day. I break them into six categories:
  • research and development,
  • business deadlines (paid),
  • self-development,
  • must do/survival/low priority,
  • must do/survival/high priority,
  • personal creativity.
I mark all important holidays and birthdays in purple, my favorite color. I check everything off in a bright blue that shows me at a glance how much I have slayed the day.

Along with scrapbooking in a theme graphic for the day, part of my self-development is to follow the advice of author Rhonda Byrne in "The Secret" and note the thing I am most grateful for that day. I write it instead of just say it toward the end if the day. If there is time then, I write out a long form version. Sometimes, the long form version takes a few days to journal in, but it gets there eventually in orange ink. (That's the magical color that corresponds with gratitude. I did some research for my color coding. The blue used for checking items off corresponds to serenity. Green draws money, etc.)

So, my days end up far from overwhelming because I enjoy every overachiever minute. (Did y'all know I am looking for the perfect grad school for my Ph. D. right now?) My cat inserts herself whenever she desires because she's a cat.

I always give myself at least 24 hours to complete an assignment.  I make time everyday for what I LOVE. So, my ten things I choose from everyday?

spec articles
new article assignment
gratitude list
hike/aerobics (in a pinch yoga - but I hate yoga.)
blog planning

Let me explain low and high priority by explaining waters. I currently am doing embedded weather research in an extreme rural area. Almost everyone in the community has to haul water from pumps owned by the property owner's association. In my little current corner of the world, most don't have  city water. Some purchase 500 gallon tanks, some smaller tanks, and either haul it to the pumps or hire someone to fill it for them.  I simply take bottles and fill them. I use them to fill my solar shower's tank and the composting toilet tank. It is an errand I can get away with twice a week, but want to do daily. As long as I have enough to make coffee, for drinking water, and to fill the toilet tank though, I call it good.

That's a long way to get to the point that you need a system and a daily list and to schedule deadlines, but it has to be your own. No one else's system will work perfectly for you. Neither will someone else's to do list. Everyone's life and situation are different. The thing we all have in common is, you have to run your day. To run your day, you have to plan it.
Carlie Lawson writes about business - especially blockchain and cryptocurrency, finance, tech, mobile and online video, entertainment, sports and fashion. She wrote for, Keysian and Movitly for a combined seven years. A former newspaper journalist, she now mostly ghost writes for her clients via her company, Powell Lawson Creatives. Invalid Inputs is her first independent, formal blog. She earned BAs in Journalism and Film & Video Studies from the University of Oklahoma. She also earned her Master of Regional & City Planning at OU. Lawson owns Powell Lawson Consulting. She has also worked as a model since she was 17.

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