Recently I have been putting myself through a complete overhaul of my design practices and way I approach my day. I, like many other young freelancers, have a secondary job alongside my work as a designer, so finding the balance between the two is crucial. I’ve heard tons of advice over the years and continue to receive it in relation to making your creative work productive amongst life’s other pulls and pushes. It’s easy to forget that advise though and fall victim of bad creative practices. My go to advise for my recent overhaul was from a book which you may have already heard of or read called ‘Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind’, edited by Jocelyn K. Glei. It takes a detailed look at just that with perspectives and guidance from a series of different successful creative professionals.
I happened to grab the book off my shelf before going on holiday to Prague and read it during the plane journey. It was the perfect wake up call to the many bad habits I had begun to do and accept as normal. After reading just the first chapter I realised it was time for change. After making just a few changes to the way I approached my work I noticed a massive improvement in my attitude towards tasks and efficiency in which I did them. I found myself creating several hours a day to spend drawing; it had started to become a habit and it continued through the week. Now for those of you who are not designers, it may seem a bit odd for me to say that I found time to draw everyday but I am often caught up in numerous admin tasks, household chores or simply being too drained from my other job to push myself to be creative.
In the book, Mark McGuinness, a London based creative coach, talks about the issues with responding to emails and doing admin work before creative work.
The trouble with this approach is it means spending the best part of the day on other people’s priorities. By the time you settle down to do your own work, it could be mid afternoon, when your energy dips and your brain slows.
Oh well, maybe tomorrow will be better you tell yourself. But tomorrow brings another pile of emails, phone messages and to-do list items.
I’m sure many of us will be all to familiar with this situation. Admin tasks aren’t the only block to creativity though. Your life and it’s demands are another large distraction away from your creative time. As I write this I can’t help but think about the bathroom grout job which I did much of my Saturday and still awaiting some finishing touches. It can wait though. That’s the important decision and by doing so I am spending my valuable energy on something creative! Chores are always a secondary task. Unless you can’t see the surface of your desk because it’s a mess you must not allow yourself to make excuses. I’m wandering off…
This single change to how I approach my creative work has been a vital shift in the right direction to becoming a more productive designer. I’ve started to enjoy what I do once again and I’m seeing results develop much quicker than before. I’ve found that it has removed the weight from my tasks and created a new work balance. I plan to write a series of blog posts n how to get yourself organised, ignore distractions and get stuck into the creative work you enjoy. To keep this nice and neat, I’m creating an additional post called “creative energy” which will be the first post in the series bar this brief introduction. It will delve into energy patterns, moods and how to make the most of them to get your creative work done.