5 Time Management Strategies for Creatives Like You

How did it get so late so soon?
— Dr. Seuss

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about this. Not this quote specifically, I just Googled it to have a snazzy opening for this post. But yeah in general, this is how I usually feel on days I don’t draw.

For years, time was the bane of my creative existence. With everything going on in my life I pushed away my creative instincts to attend to the societal needs. This eventually made me a rusty artist and then I felt I was no good.

Call it a ‘creative block or ‘being in a funk’ or whatever you may. In the end, it transforms into this huge demon that seemingly sucks away our creativity.

Eventually, I decided that enough was enough. I couldn’t waste my life wistfully imagining about the ‘if onlys and what ifs’. I needed to put my head down and get to work. Doing this would definitely be better than drowning in self-pity.

I won’t bore you with the details of I got back on track. However, I want to nudge you in the right direction.

Here are a couple of time management tips for creatives that I picked up along the way:

Are your art supplies calling you name? Go answer them.

Are your art supplies calling you name? Go answer them.

1. Carpe Diem

A doodle a day can fill up your portfolio!

A doodle a day can fill up your portfolio!

Did you know? ‘carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero’ literally means ‘seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow’.

I swear sometimes I wonder if I would have been more creative if I was born during the Renaissance. Their motto and devil may care attitude surely generated lots of masterpieces. Didn’t it? So there is no harm applying this philosophy into your life.

Where should you begin? I can think of a long list of ‘idle moments’, like hour-long commutes, waiting rooms and long conversations on the phone, where you can put pen on paper. So no matter where you are if you’ve got time to spare then you should ‘seize the day’ and shake off those dusty cobwebs in your creative brain.

2. Drop That Phone This Instant!

How many hours do you spend on the phone?

Our inclination to be online is one of the major reasons why we don’t have ‘enough’ time. Think about all the aimless hours you wasted on the web― watching cat videos, switching through social media apps and aimlessly browsing the web. Imagine all the things you could have accomplished if you’d utilised that time on canvas.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not telling you to cut off ties from the digital world and become some sort of hermit. No way, that’s just silly. What I do suggest is, spending less time fooling around with the phone and proactively working on making something creative. Many people talk about the fifteen magical minutes that can boost creative progression and I’m a firm believer of that. Try shutting off the constant bombardment of digital spaces and focus on your art once in a while.


3. Be Selfish aka Rain Checks and Polite Dismissals

Artists are selfish, ego-centric beings. Have you heard this one? It sounds like an exaggeration and falls into a pretty generic stereotype. Yet, maybe you can use this cliché for your own means.

If being selfless is creating obstacles for you then stop saying ‘yes’ to everyone. Decline invitations to events you don’t want to go to. Duck out of meetings and settings you’re not needed in. People have a tendency to load their problems on others. Thus, you end up cleaning your friends’ mess because you’re the only one available. So end this charity-work and stop being available all the time.

Additionally, go shrug off the FOMO and embrace the YOLO. I probably don’t make any sense here but there is some value in this nonsense. The main idea here is to not let the Fear of Missing Out on things prevent you from living your own dreams. Because You Only Live Once my friend, so learn to be a bit selfish and put your art above those insignificant time-consuming social obligations.

Plus, don’t worry! From my experience, people who genuinely care won’t leave you because you didn’t show up on a night out.


4. The Not-So-Perfect Plan

Do you live by schedules?

Personally, I’ve had a hard time following time-tables but some people stick to it like a lifeline. So if it works for you, then go ahead and designate some hours for creativity.

Okay, I bet there are two types of people reading this post right now. One of you believes that there isn’t time in your over-packed schedule. The other one would whip up something totally impractical and call it a plan.

Both of you are wrong. The first one needs to set their priorities straight. Map out a clear plan for the day and then label those tasks according to urgency. You need to set them as first priorities and then start erasing the ones that could be left over for another day. Soon enough, you’ll miraculously find some spare time in your hands.

Block those distractions and spend some quality time with your passion.

Block those distractions and spend some quality time with your passion.

To the second one, you don’t have to be a superhero! If you’re new in the art scene then it will take lots of practice to hone those skills. Even the most skilled amongst us can’t create a masterpiece in a single day. So don’t go creating brilliant elaborate plans and expect that things will pan out the way you want them to.

In short, be flexible and strategically plan your day.

5. Find Your Creative Zone

Lastly, find your creative space. This could be a concrete work-space that helps you get in the right mindset. Choose a clutter-free (or messy if you like) workstation which triggers happy creative thoughts in your head. Additionally, this could be a non-tangible space like time itself.

Some of us are night owls and will have all these wonderful ideas at ungodly hours. I say, go translate your vision on the canvas when you’ve got the itch. I confess my best pieces got made this way. What if you’re an early riser? Then use that morning quiet for your work. Get up an hour early to immerse yourself in art.

Moreover, you can always opt for art classes and workshops too if you need structure and conformity to push you towards creativity.

In a nutshell, all these time management tips will only work if you commit to them. The key to unlocking your real potential is inside of you. So stop making excuses and start practicing, creating and making beautiful messes that reignite your creative spark.

Best of luck!

Lloyd CoenenComment