Increasing Your Productivity – Part One “Time for Time”

This time of year begs for renewing and refreshing your business practices, especially your personal and professional productivity. Let’s start with how you manage your time.

Do you ever feel there is not enough time to do everything you want? Do you ever end the day with a list of things–to-do? Do you ever finish the week with more you need to get done? Then you are suffering from the all too common creative professional’s syndrome of “too much to do and too little time to do it”. You cannot get rid of the work but I know you can make more time-it is just hidden away right now.

Here’s the concept: accept that you have both work to do and a job to accomplish and they are two very different things. As a professional, your work is the creative work you are paid to do (photography, design, and illustrations). Your job is to manage your time to get the work done (project management, estimates, budgets, even self-promotion and career management). Most people put their work first and let their job get done when they “get around to it”. This is backwards and destructive for finding that hidden time because you will never “get around to it”! The creative (your work) will take all the time you give it or get done in the time you give it. Knowing this, you must reverse your priorities and put your job tasks first.

To start, this means you must identify all the job tasks you must accomplish by the day, the week and the month. These job tasks are all the things you must do in both your personal and professional life. They will range from the everyday such as answering email and daily exercise to the periodic such as updating your web site and paying bills. I call these tasks your “givens” as they must be done!

Once you have identified all the “givens”, take your personal planner or calendar and schedule all of these tasks as recurring dates. Schedule everything – personal and professional! You may be thinking, why bother scheduling such routine tasks as updating your web site or daily exercise?  Two good reasons: one, if it is not on your calendar the chances are pretty good it won’t get done and two, a “lists of things to do” kept in your head is not a very good use of your brainpower.  This is how you find more time; you can better focus and concentrate on your work (the creative) when you are not distracted by your job (managing the work).

Now, take a look at the work that comes in the door. I call these tasks “incoming” and include all the creative work. These are the clients, deadlines, budgets and projects that march in the door and sweep away anything else you had planned for that moment – sound familiar? Work tasks (incoming) will ALWAYS displace job tasks (givens) any time, day or night but the good news is that these “givens” are not gone and forgotten, just rescheduled!

Scheduling everything may feel restricting but it is actually the thing that will free you to get more tasks done in less time because you can better focus and concentrate on any task at hand.  Make time work for you, not against you.

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