When you realise you have the same number of hours in your day as Beyonce, it’s quite easy to feel like you’re wasting your time. One reaction to such news is to feel bad. The other is to acknowledge while that you don’t have a small army of people helping you do all of the little things (laundry I’m looking at you), you can still maximise your time to get the most out of it, and perhaps get around to working on that grammy award winning album.
Once you feel good about your productivity, it’s much easier to capitalise on it and find new ways of being more efficient.
If you’re looking for some ways to maximise your time, here are some things I’ve learned:
PLAN TO MAKE IT A PRIORITY
It’s easy to keep putting off projects you’re passionate about until the perfect moment lands in your lap. I’ll start that drawing once all of the chores are done. I can’t take photos for my blog until the lighting is just right. Once the sun and the moon have aligned correctly I’ll find inspiration for that new series I want to design.
Waiting for just the right moment almost always means waiting so long that you don’t do a thing. Schedule in time for designing, or blogging, or whatever else t is you want to be doing, in the same way you would a work out or cooking dinner. From the outside that might make doing something fun sound like doing something, well, not so fun, but once you set aside time to work on what you’re passionate about you stop feeling guilty about it and just do it.
When you’re working on things for yourself, rather than things for a client, it’s easy to let them slip so far to the bottom of your priorities list that you forget about them. Setting deadlines on personal projects makes them more tangible and gives you a reason to start working. Think of yourself as your own client. If keeping to your own deadlines is a struggle, tell a friend what you’re working on and promise to show them on a set day, or turn to social media to keep you honest.
DO ONE THING AT A TIME
This is advice my mum gave me when I was very small, but it’s taken me until now to really put it into practice and truly understand how important it is. It’s so easy to get distracted (Facebook I’m looking at you) or to decide half way through a task that something else on your to do list is more exciting, but finishing one job at a time is the most efficient way to work. It’s also the most satisfying way to work. It’s easier said than done though. Some things I’ve found that make it easier include:
1 – Blocking out distractions, that means turning off notifications and moving your phone out of reach. I particularly like working on paper if that’s an option, or using Writer’s Block if I’m writing.
2 – Order tasks and give each one a set time period. Using this method, rather than a random to do list (that’s not to say I don’t still love to do lists) means you work to a schedule rather than which task is most appealing.
3 – Mix up jobs. I find having an alternating scheme of long and short, digital and analog, tasks helps keep me engaged with my work.
TAKE PROPER BREAKS
Having real down time is key to having efficient working times. If you’re well rested you have more energy and you’re less likely to get distracted. Emotional, as well as physical rest, is really important. Taking time for yourself, whether that means having a quiet night in with a movie, visiting a museum, or just going for a walk, allows you to recharge your batteries. As an introvert I’m particularly aware of how much energy I’m spending socially, I can literally feel my energy depleting. Time away from work, of whatever kind, is also essential for finding inspiration.
HAVE A SET WORKSPACE
Divide where you work from where you relax. That doesn’t mean you need a separate room (space in London is at such a premium, ain’t nobody got money for that). Simply working at a desk, or even a different side of the dining table, can be enough. Separating work and leisure helps you enjoy both more.