It’s certainly not the sexiest topic for the creative professional, but getting a grip on how you spend your day (aka time management) makes you a better designer. When fortunate enough to be very busy, you can avoid the ugly cycle of feeling rushed at every stage. Burnout is sure to follow, which drains your creative spirit. But it’s really more than just having more time.
For me the best ideas, the things that can take a design to the next level, often come a few days after I thought I was done. Before sending proofs, I like to let a design ‘rest’, returning later to get a fresh impression and declare the work ‘ready to show’. But while the files are resting, the design mind is still working in the background – picking up sensory cues and signals from the world around – making little connections from everything it takes in that’s related to the concept or theme. Then suddenly something breaks the subconscious threshold and another “Aha!” moment is born.
When creative inspiration has time to occur naturally, it builds confidence and improves the work. It’s a healthy environment for stretching one’s current capabilities or trying out a new technique. That rarely happens when you feel as if you’re constantly playing catch-up.
So if the following scenario sounds familiar:
“So you start the day full of enthusiasm. You’re excited about a new piece of creative work and itching to put your ideas into action. Firing up your computer, the familiar stream of e-mails pours into your inbox, burying the ones you didn’t get round to replying to yesterday. Scanning through the list, your heart sinks – two of them look as though they require urgent action. You hit ‘reply’ and start typing a response to one of them… 20 minutes later you ‘come round’ and realise you’ve got sucked into the e-mail zone and have been sidetracked by interesting links sent by friends, as well as writing replies…”
A little prioritizing might be just the thing to break the cycle. A colleague told me about a free ebook Time Management for Creative People from Mark McGuinness, a poet and business coach specializing in the creative industries. The quote above is from his free publication. In the ebook, Mark provides strategies for making the time for greatness. He recounts his personal experiences in improving productivity as a creative professional. At the price of free, it’s definitely worth the read.