Time management tips for creative types

Passion and creativity are key to business, but a healthy dose of organisation is crucial too. Here are some ways to whip your workday into shape without cramping your peerless style.

Give routine a go

A routine may be anathema to you, but try it out for a week and see if it improves your progress. Create a loose schedule and then alter it according to what seems to work and what doesn’t.

Don’t shackle yourself to a strict routine: set aside time for dealing with unexpected tasks that crop up at the last minute, and build in a lunch break and regular smaller breaks. Check and reply to your emails at specific intervals rather than letting the bleep of your inbox interrupt you all day.

Make a task list

At the beginning of the week or the start of the day, jot down the things you need to complete. Find a format that works for you, whether that’s colourful sticky notes that can be crumpled when complete, or scrawls on a big whiteboard that can be crossed off throughout the day. If you prefer doing things digitally, try a note-taking app like Evernote.

Keep your diary up to date

Whether you use Google Calendar, Outlook, or a diary of the old-fashioned paper variety, take ten minutes at the end of each day to update it with meetings, deadlines and reminders. If you’re still getting things jumbled, get an eye-catching calendar and hang it on the wall so that it’s almost impossible to miss those important appointments.

Manage your mess

If you’re creative and you’re busy, chances are that your workspace is somewhat chaotic. Up to a point this is ok, but it could get so bad that it starts hampering your work. Keep a recycling bin close to your desk and immediately throw away anything you know you won’t need again.

Set aside a folder or a drawer for especially important documents, and if you get back from a meeting clutching a sheet of paper with some particularly important scribbles, type it up or photograph it straight away so that you’ve got a digital back-up if the document gets buried in that desktop snowdrift.

Find a quiet space

If your mind is prone to wander, try to work somewhere that’s quiet and lacking in distractions. If this is difficult, put your headphones on, press play on a focus-friendly playlist and cultivate a glare for anyone who comes too close. Split your day up into times when you can chat, think and daydream, and times when you just need to get on with the task in hand.

If you’d like to weigh in on the debate or you’ve got an idea for a work-life balance article that you’d love to see on our site, you can tweet @simplybusiness with the hashtag #WLB.

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