A Time Management System for Creatives That Actually Works - Martha Moger
Martha Moger is a freelance copywriter and brand storyteller. As The Stitch Writer, she writes copy and content to help creative brands and businesses show the world who they are, get found on the internet and do more of what they love.
Back in the days when I sourced shoes for the high street in Sri Lanka, my friend in the factory used to say “You’ve got the watch, but I’ve got the time.” Man, was it ever the truth.
Creative people are fantastic. We make amazing things, dream up incredible ideas and find boot-strapping, inventive ways to get them done. But when it comes to a time management system? Now that’s a challenge.
I’m going to mention a couple of useful apps here, but mostly this is just honesty from a working mother of two. I’m a freelance copywriter for creative brands and businesses but I also run the show at home, a kids group once a week and I like to go running. Believe me, I’ve had to get organised and all it’s actually taken is a pen, paper and bit of discipline.
So are you with me? Let’s go.
Big Words That End in ‘Shun’.
Ok, let’s talk about the two biggest killers when it comes to a time management system that actually works. The first is a lack of organisation and the second is distraction. I’m a master at both.
I know that there’s nothing that kills joy so fast as intensive over-planning, but taking half an hour each week on a Friday to plan out the week ahead has literally changed my life.
I sit down with a pen and paper and just brainstorm everything that I know is coming up for the following week. The appointments, the writing jobs, the visit to Grandma, the whole darn lot.
Then I look realistically at the time I have each day. Maybe for you it’s 9-6 each day or perhaps you can only really work on Monday and Friday in school hours. It doesn’t really matter, just list out your days, write the hours you have next to them and make sure there’s some time in there to have a rest from everything. No one is truly productive on no sleep and no breaks.
Now look at your brainstorm and estimate how long each of those things is going to take you. Slot it into the day and time you have free (I do love to use Todoist app for this). If you run out of blocks of time then pick the most important things and make the others wait.
I’ve found that things always take longer than you think, and all that stuff you HAVE TO get done? Try rebelling against yourself and not doing some of it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you find out it really wasn’t as important as you thought.
Managing Your Time to Kill Distraction
No one likes the word ‘discipline’. It makes us think of horrible headteachers. But if you’re easily distracted, you need to kill it off to get the most from your working day. It’s literally a case of disciplining yourself to stay focused on the task at hand.
If Wednesday is the day when you decide to focus on marketing, then raising invoices or meeting up to talk exciting business ideas are off the agenda. If you’re working at home and you have a piece of writing to finish, don’t ‘just do the laundry first’.
Do the task you least want to do first of all. You’ll feel so good when you have.
Put your phone away too. Social media is a useful tool to grow your business, but it’s only a tool. Be the master of it, not the other way round, and if necessary, set yourself a timer so that you can’t pick the phone up again until that timer rings.
If you’re active on social media, make one of your weekly time slots a time to plan your content. Everyone has their own system, but for me, I think of a theme for the week that relates to my business and will interest my clients. It might be ‘products I love’ or ‘SEO’ or ‘workspace’.
I come up with five photos and captions that relate to the theme, expand on them in my Instagram stories, then write the lot up into a blog post with key words every couple of weeks.
Sometimes I post on the fly, but mostly I take a bit of time on a Friday, use Buffer to plan, and get the whole lot ready in advance. That way I can’t get distracted by trying to keep my social media up to date.
At the end of the day, we’re lucky we get to do what we do and build amazing things. So let’s enjoy it! By focusing on the bigger picture, doing some simple organistion and kicking distraction to the kerb, who knows how far we can go.