Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 420th issue of our weekly a.blog.
In life, the time we spend with ourselves and others is all we have. How we make the best use of our time drives us as individuals. To make more efficient, productive, and mindful use of our time is among the most important goals we can pursue.
As with any self-improvement practice, it’s possible to go overboard with time management. Being able to use time more wisely doesn’t require dramatic personality, behavior or lifestyle changes as excessive ambition can backfire.
As you endeavor to make better use of your time, here are a few common pitfalls to avoid. This time we felt that a top “don’t do list” would resonate more than a top “do list”:
1. Don't expect miracles
"We can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point," writes the author Susan Cain. "Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead."
Some of us are natural daydreamers and do our best thinking in loose, casual environments. Others work comfortably at a slower, more deliberate pace. We can all make modest adjustments to better use our time, but if we expect to fundamentally transform our habits and patterns all at once, we are being unfair to ourselves and setting ourselves up for disappointment.
Set reasonable goals you know you can hit. Then ratchet them up over time.
2. Don't over think it
The more time we spend poring over productivity literature, exchanging time-management tips online, and imaging ourselves as whizzing, hyper-disciplined superheroes, the less likely we are to get started. Take realistic steps, to get things done in the real world. When we're planning for greatness in the future, we let dust collect on the work that's due today.
When in doubt, forget about who you want to be. Do something concrete right now and get one mundane task out of the way.
Don't get stuck in the planning stage. Avoid analysis paralysis. Do something.
3. Don't wear yourself out
Coffee and sleep deprivation are best used in extreme moderation. And the most dangerous poison of them all may be “workahol!”
Simply put, to make the best use of your time and do your best work over the course of your career, take care of yourself. Court burnout at your peril.
Sometimes, this means stepping away from a side-project that sucks you dry. Sometimes, it means firing a client who asks too much for too little. Protecting our long-term health by all means possible is something we all need to be doing every day.
4. Don't lose focus
The best way to save time and energy, to get more out of your life and live it with greater self-respect, is simple: get used to saying “no”. Say "no" to things you don't want to do and opportunities that don't align with your core values or fit into your larger projects.
Determine your core mission. Boil it down to one or two sentences. Then take an inventory of your activities. Cross out the ones that aren't mission essential. Next comes the hard part: stop doing them. And, if you are offered the opportunity to take on new responsibilities that don't resonate with you on a fundamental level, turn them down. Say "no thank you," say it often, say it proudly, and stand behind it.
You will save your bandwidth and will give other people the opportunity to do the things you don't have the time or inclination to do well.
5. Don't jump around between different systems and fads
Time management is big business, and new gurus are constantly making the scene, with new “systems” that they promise will blow everything else out of the water. Needless to say, skepticism is in order.
None of these programs have a monopoly on wisdom. Most of them boil down to the same few bits of useful, practical, time-tested advice. You can waste a lot of time following trendy advice that isn't right for you, attempting to change horses mid-stream, or signing onto a program that works for someone with a completely different life.
If you decide to embrace a time-management system, commit to it, at least long enough to test its efficacy.
6. Don't beat yourself up
Life is an experiment. Your career is a work in progress. Your mistakes are best understood as learning experiences.
If you fail to make the best use of your time or you can't stick to your plan, don't give up. Take an honest look at how you can improve. Consider how you can play to your strengths and work with your natural personality, rather than against it. And congratulate yourself for taking on the hard challenge of self-improvement and your willingness to adapt and grow.
The best way to manage time is to cultivate relationships that play to your strengths and make things easier.
At Artisan Creative, we understand how world-class clients and talent can make the best use of their time together. Contact us today, and we'll give you a boost on your way to the next level.