Time is a difficult thing to balance sometimes, and the topic of time management can be a bone dry one, but it’s such an important tool to have when you’re working for yourself (or working from home in general) that I thought I’d share a few things.
Keep Some Structure
It can be easy to get into a casual “take it as it comes” mindset when you’re working at home and don’t have the same daily rituals and structures as when you’re working elsewhere, but that’s also the best way to slowly develop bad habits (and we all know it’s easier to make a bad habit than it is to break it).
I find sticking to regular breaks can really help to stop losing time to distraction.
Work In Blocks
When you’re working on a new piece of art/design it can be really easy to just keep your head down and keep on going for hours on end, but that can be quite draining on all levels. I try to work in bursts, and after a lot of experimenting with different methods I realised that it was all heavily dictated by what stage I was at on a piece. So in that regard the best thing is to just try a few things out and see what feels best for you.
An example of this is how I approach things when I’m working on a detailed page of pencils (which isn’t super common as I tend to pencil loosely before adding most of the detail in the inking stage). I find the focus is a bit more intense, on my brain and my eyes, plus I have a tendency to grip the pencil so tightly I’m surprised it doesn’t snap. So it works well for me to have a short break every 15 – 20 minutes, just for a minute or two where I can look out the window to let my eyes relax and stretch my hands.
I worked out that this is the average amount of time for a single side of a record, so I’m able to use the music I love as a timing device (which also gives me a great excuse to keep buying more records!).
You’ll probably have a good idea already if you’re more of a morning or afternoon person, so try to schedule the things that require more energy and focus into the hours of the day when you’re more focused and energetic. I know that I usually hit a bit of a slump after lunch where my focus is quite limited til I get my second wind. This is prime admin time for me to file away emails, scan artwork, and other things that usually only take a few minutes.
To Do Lists
I feel like a bit of a hypocrite listing this because my track record with To Do Lists is pretty sketchy (have you ever felt like you needed a separate list just to keep track of all your To Do Lists?). Currently I’m working with a weekly list, which I can adjust and revisit as the week goes on. It’s turning out to be a good approach so far, especially when it comes to balancing multiple projects with an equal level of importance.
That’s just a few things that you can do, and on top of that there are an abundance of time management apps available to use (again, it’s good to try a few out and see what suits you best).
Do you have any regular routines or approaches to time management to share? If so then jump into the comments below and let us know.
Blog header image: Creative Process by Crispe