Let’s be honest, being a creative and your own boss (mostly) is the ultimate dream for many of us. That’s because we get to navigate our day as we see fit, do what we’re passionate about, and work in comfy pants if we feel like it. But for many, the struggle is real. Mainly due to lack of time management and not conserving energy – that’s the not so glamorous part.
Being a creative entrepreneur isn’t as easy as it looks, which by now, I’m sure you probably know!
In our digital hustle-infused world, we’re expected to go above and beyond at lightning speed. And, while some people might thrive off this “challenge”, for many of us creatives and purpose-led entrepreneurs, it can easily steer us off course.
Basically, I’m talking about overwhelm, anxiety, and the potential for burnout.
PROTECT YOUR ENERGY
Being a creative entrepreneur sounds fun, but it’s not for everyone. Besides navigating self-employment, you also need to acknowledge that creative work requires more energy.
Think about it… you spend 3-5 intense hours designing, writing, or being creative in another capacity – and then all of a sudden you’re ready to take a nap. That’s because there’s a limit to how much (good) creative work we can do in a day.
This is something I’ve had to learn to embrace. Which, trust me, as a high achiever and recovering perfectionist, isn’t always easy to do! So, if you’re anything like me, know that there’s nothing wrong with you. You just need to learn to harness your creative energy. You also need to make time management your new best friend. Especially if you’re committed to sharing amazing works of art or digital magic with the world.
You’d be surprised by how many creatives and goal-getters act as though they’re superhuman with this unique ability to sacrifice food, sleep, and other human necessities for the sake of work. Let’s not do that, please.
Below, I’m sharing 11 actionable daily habits you can put into place to balance your time and energy as a creative entrepreneur.
6 WAYS TO SIMPLIFY TIME MANAGEMENT
1. Start the day with high vibes
When you’re positive, things feel a LOT more manageable.
We know that how we start our day, affects how the rest of it is going to go. When you feel positive and empowered, you’ll be amazed by the amount of energy you bring to your day. Do something that connects with you – whether that’s a quick meditation, listening to a podcast, or dancing around the room. Set your tone your way.
2. Boost your confidence
If you’re a procrastinator and tend to put daunting things off (like calling a client or figuring out some coding), this tip might help. Instead of “swallowing the frog” first thing, try and check off one or two bite-sized, easy tasks. This will get you into a productive groove and give you a burst of positive energy and the confidence to tackle the rest of your day.
3. Work with your energy
Are you more energetic in the morning or do you get into your rhythm properly after lunch?
Figure out what that looks like for you and use that time to do your high-concentration or really creative work. Less brain-intense tasks can be worked around your peak energy time. For example, I like to do admin and social media engagement in the afternoon, and save my mornings for content creation.
4. Create a task management system
I’m a huge fan of notebooks and physically checking things off. But, this method doesn’t really hold me accountable. What does? Asana. This is a free online task management system that helps me break up projects, set deadlines, and keep track of everything I need to do. Basecamp and Trello are two other popular options you might like to check out.
5. Break up the day
As creatives, we need breaks.
Lots of them, they’re non-negotiable if quality work is something you pride yourself on. Our brains need a regular time-out from all the creative thinking, planning, and working. Even if it’s just for five minutes to go stand outside and get some fresh air. I try and do this at least once every 90 minutes, but I hear 45 minutes is ideal.
6. Plan for flexibility
Life happens. Sometimes things take a little longer than expected or there’s a last-minute task that pops up. When your calendar is jam-packed, there’s no room for slotting things in. To avoid panic stations, try getting into the habit of blocking off chunks of “blank space” (buffer time) every day. So instead of scheduling one thing directly after the other, leave a gap of 15-30 minutes. I promise this has been a MASSIVE game-changer!
7. Cut distractions
As I’m writing this post, my phone is switched off and in another room. Talk about taking time management to a whole other level! But that’s because when I’m completely unavailable, I get so much more done. You’d be surprised by the amount of work you get to without interruptions or distractions. I’ve learned that most things can wait. Like WhatsApp messages and social media. Try it – or at least put your phone on silent.
8. Do it on purpose
Ever feel like you’re constantly busy, but you’re getting nowhere slowly? This might be due to one of two things: either you’re trying to do too much, or you’re focusing on doing the wrong things. Try and get into the habit of asking yourself WHY you’re spending time on a specific task. What’s the business goal? Example: scrolling Instagram? Ask yourself why you’re doing it. You’ll quickly stop that habit, I guarantee you!
9. Schedule time for emails
I know it’s a relief to reply to an email as soon as it comes in. But, here’s the thing: most people aren’t waiting with bated breath for your response. This is a new one for me, but it’s saved me so much time when I don’t keep checking my emails, but save reading and replying for certain times of the day.
10. Be kind to yourself
If you’re a perfectionist or high achiever, you’re hardly ever happy with a job you’ve done. That’s a tough one. I’ve come to realise that there’s a dark side to perfectionism and over-ambition, qualities I used to strive for.
And while being hard on yourself can push you further, it’s not great if that’s all you’re doing. Give yourself a bit of grace. A LOT of it actually. This path you’ve carved out for yourself is hard enough without being your own worst enemy.
Maybe this sounds like a bit of an oxymoron in our digital world, but here’s the thing: rest and recharging are a huge part of productivity and success in general. We need that time to prepare for the next day. So, don’t feel bad about disconnecting and tuning into self-care, family, or leisure time.
And there you have it; 11 simple time management tips you can try to help you focus and be more productive – without feeling overwhelmed or drained.
OVER TO YOU
I hope you found this post inspiring and useful! I always find that starting small and keeping things simple makes the biggest difference.
Let me know in the comments below if there’s anything else you practice to keep a healthy balance and to stay productive as a creative entrepreneur!