Why can't I have my cake and eat it too? Let's talk time management!
Time management is one of the biggest obstacles for motivated creative types (writers, artists and musicians) today. Primarily because being motivated or hungry for a desired outcome simply isn't enough. You have to learn to prioritize your tasks to optimize your production.
Today, I wanted to share some words of encouragement for anyone out there who is motivated to make big change or to achieve a dream but just can't seem to get over the incredibly large obstacle... time.
As always, Keep It Sweet and Simple with 4 steps.
Step #1: Framework.
Step #2: Expectations.
Step #3: Benchmarks.
Step #4: Implementation.
Step #1: Framework.
This is the first step to laying out the path to success. The hurdles through the next 3 steps can be made much easier if you plan out your strategy wisely. Don't get caught up in the details though. This is big picture thinking.
We will use a writer's perspective for this example.
Brainstorm Example: I want to write a new short story (or add 25 pages to my novel), experiment with new art techniques and go on an adventure with my partners in crime.
Keep your goals straightforward. Ensure that they are set, measurable and finite. Once you have your framework ready it takes us into our next step.
Step #2: Expectations.
This is where you have to be unapologetically honest with yourself.
Expectations are broken down into Prioritization of Tasks and Time Frame.
Prioritized expectations: 1.Most important but least involved task. 2.The easiest and more intermittent task. 3.The middle of the road everyday task.
Time Frame: Realistic time span for allotted tasks.
Can you take the goals you've established in the first step and place them into a realistic time frame? For sake of argument and example, let's try and cram all of these things into a short 2 week time-span.
1. Most people will be burdened with planning the adventure with their friends/family/loved ones so much that they will be consumed by its implementation and lose sight of their other goals.
2. Practicing new painting techniques for artwork. Since these are likely just mindless practice exercises, this is likely the easiest to accomplish.
3. Writing a new short story or adding 25 pages of new content on that novel. Definitely an everyday task makes its priority self explanatory.
This leads us neatly into our next step.
Step #3: Benchmarks or Goal Assessments.
In this step, you will be able to keep yourself from falling into the bad habit of getting lost in the details. You should keep things as simple and easy to accomplish as possible.
1.Most important but least involved task. Since most people will see planning the adventure as the more labor intensive chore, start with this task first.
1. A.) Framework: Begin by creating a list of all supplies needed and cost of the overall event. Call/meet up/ invite everyone and from those interested breakdown the list of supplies and cost for each person, delegating the list equally to participants.
1. B.) Benchmark: Next set a benchmark halfway through your 2 week timeframe as a followup to the coordination efforts. This can be as simple as a phone call to your prospective adventurers to confirm they are still excited and available to roam/roadtrip/go crazy. However, if it turns out you hit snags this will allow you the opportunity to gauge what supplies will need to be gathered and costs covered should a participant fall behind or drop out. Delegate other, more proactive participants to pick up the slack and set another benchmark for 2 days before the scheduled adventure.
At your 48 hours before adventure benchmark, this will give you ample time to run to the store and pick up whatever supplies unaccounted for on the list. Got all of those steps on the calendar? Good. Now stop thinking about it.
This sets you up to begin planning out your more individually dependent activities.
2.The easiest and more intermittent task. Since practicing new painting techniques is considered the easiest thing, start here next. Set Benchmarks every 3 days. Spending 30-45 minutes once every 3 days to practice new painting ideas/techniques. Concentrating on this task intermittently will help break up your tasks. If your everyday task has become stressful, you have something to look forward to every 3 days. Easy right? So move on to your setting up your everyday activity.
3.The middle of the road everyday task. Your short story or 25 new pages can be easily Benchmarked in 5 day intervals. There are 14 days in a 2 week period which means that you will need to average 2.2 pages each day. If you find that you are ahead of schedule at the first benchmark, keep the momentum and continue your pace. If you discover you have been falling behind and are unmotivated to produce content, stop and focus on dedicating some time to a separate productive activity (drawing, painting, reading). Allow your mind the chance to recover. (Do not watch television or listen to music.) Doing a separate, productive activity (such as your 3 day intermittent activity: painting) will give you a chance to produce a physical result. Begin writing tomorrow (the next day) without putting pressure on yourself for not meeting the first benchmark. You have every day to slowly eat away at any lost pages. Which leads us into the final step.
Step #4: Implementation.
Put simply.. Just do it.
You have 3 individual goals that have been placed on your calendar. If you've planned them out accordingly, none of these tasks will ever have benchmarks that fall on the same day. At each benchmark, concentrate on the identified task until satisfactory results are accomplished. If you hit a roadblock, switch to a different task and produce a satisfactory result. The key thing is to always, always...always keep producing.
Avoid Over-stimulation or outside distractions.
People often find themselves unable to produce results because they lack motivation or are "burnt out". Most of the time, this comes from being overstimulated from outside interference. Clear your workspace of pets, animals, family members or sounds that might otherwise distract you.
While some people swear by listening to music or having the television on in the background when they paint or write, the truth is.. this is merely a habitual ritual. If you aren't one of these people.. avoid the temptation of watching television or listening to music. If you aren't already wired to produce in this fashion..you're only setting yourself up for failure. If it can distract you.. it will.
Don't waste time thinking about punctuation or grammar. You can edit later. The most important thing is to implement or produce.
Until next time,