This is your time machine!

Image by João Silas. Thanks to

Image by João Silas. Thanks to

This week has just about got away from me. Sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day, days in the week, (insert "I am busy" cliche here). You know the feeling. Deadlines have passed and your work is still not ready to hand over. 

It's a common story. Many of the artists I interview talk about the frustration of not being able to find a balance between doing the art and doing the admin. Too much art and you don't have time to sell it and organise it. Too much admin and you don't have any art to sell (and, let's face it, admin sucks).

Creative people have a reputation for being disorganised and having their heads in the clouds. Do you relate? 

It doesn't have to be that way.

When I launched Follow Magazine, one of the things I was hoping for was more structure to my writing, more real deadlines. Self-imposed deadlines are great but it's hard to stay accountable when your boss (you) is so forgiving. 

My hopes were fulfilled. Oh wow, were they fulfilled?! I now have daily, weekly, monthly deadlines to keep. People have paid for subscriptions in advance and I've committed to delivering this regular, valuable content. I had to quickly learn a system for squeezing the most out of every day.

This is where time management comes into its own. I now use a time management technique that can work for anyone who is self-employed. I've found that it actually gives me more time to write and do the creative stuff. You don't need to download an app or sign up to a program.

My technique goes like this...

  • I sit down and work out what tasks I want to get done in a day. I write it all out in a reasonably detailed list.  I even include each individual email I want to write and every article I need to send off to the designer. 
  • I make an estimate of how long I expect each job to take. 
  • I arrange the list in some sort of order and put times against each item. This is the actual times of the day.
  • Then I get to work.

If it gets to 11.15 and I'm still working on the emails that I expected to finish at 11 then I can reassess the day and work out where I can make up the time. When I finish a job I put a big, thick, satisfying line through that task.

If you know that you get to the studio and you potter around for an hour seeing where everything is up to and slowly easing into the day, no problem put aside an hour every morning to do that. It's not time wasted. It's crucial to your creative process.

It sounds simple doesn't it, almost prosaic. Well, it is, but it is so useful and has really helped me bump up my productivity - both art and admin. Give it a go.

Do you have tips and tricks for squeezing every second from every day? Let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear how you manage your art practice.

To artistic control