Time after Time Management for Creatives. How to get ish done a la Cyndi Lauper Style
One of the worst things about me is I have zero concept of time management. Zero. Zilch. NADA.
The difference between 5 minute and 5 hours is a blink of an eye to me most days. You know, that feeling you get when you randomly take a nap in the middle of the day and wake up at dazed and confused like is it 5 in the morning? Or is it 5 in the afternoon? Yea… I’m kind of in that perpetual state all the time.
I am always CONVINCED, that if I leave about 15 mins before I am scheduled to arrive to any appointment, at any location, ANYWHERE … I’ll be there ON TIME…
In my new found grown girl wisdom, I’ve recently bumped this travel estimate to 30 minutess. This has all but cured me of my debilitating ALWAYS, ALWAYS late for everything affliction.
I’m making solid progress but I do l still find myself shockingly perplexed when trying to drive from the very FAR north side of Chicago clear to the far south side of the city during rush hour traffic takes me an hour and a half… Seriously, I’m always sitting in the car like Whaaaa??? There is traffic in Chicago? You don’t say??
This also lends itself to another problem. I typically have no idea how long completing any task will actually take me. Seriously, I’m never certain if doing my hair will take me 30 minutes or 17 hours. I can never access the length of time it will take me wash the four ( who am I kidding 400) plates in my sink at any given time, or how long it will take me to finish a work project, or brush my teeth, or get a divorce, or do ANYTHING. I just have always really sucked at time.
At first, I was kinda of cool with it. You know, “I’m a creative. I’m artsy. I’m fartsy I can’t be confined to the constraints of a traditional time model cause my creativity needs to flourish and blossom in a fluid environment. There is no such thing as time management for creatives. You see, SistaTV is a free spirit….”
Translation: I don’t want to have to produce anything within a certain time schedule because uhhh PRESSURE… Also, I’m terrifically paralyzed by self doubt, pervasive insecurity, debilitating perfectionism, and general fuckedupedness. So hell naw I aint got no watch. Or any actual tangible fruits of my creative labors. Heck naw, I have turned any of these endless talents into an actual skill. It doesn’t matter cause my ass is too broke to even pay attention long enough to create anything! So fuck you and your time piece, man… Fuck that tick tock shit, son.
So, Uhh… Yeah… That’s um not working for me. Nope. This free spirit shit ain’t paying no bills or producing enough fruit so I’ve developed some get gangsta with yourself, girl tactics.
1. I have a to do list. I’ll talk about this more in another blog but basically your need a piece of paper and a pen or an blank google drive document. Write down at least 5 things you want to do during the day and DO THEM.
2. Get yourself a timer/stopwatch app.
3. The results of doing this next step were absolutely mind-blowing for me. Next to the tasks that I want to complete, ESPECIALLY the tasks that I’ve been delaying the longest, I put an estimate of how long I think it will take me to complete said task.Then I time how long it actually takes me complete said task.
Chile, This was life changing. For one, I wayyyy, wayyy over-estimate how long it will take and how much of a pain in the ass it will be to complete all of my most dreaded household tasks. For some reason, I was convinced that washing and putting away all of the dishes after dinner would take me no less than an hour and a half every night. So I would always put it off, and put it off and put it off til I was left with a couple of days worth of dishes that would be mammoth job to complete.
But one day, I decided to just use the 20 minutes between when the kids went to sleep and this week’s episode of Scandal started to wash the dishes and put everything away. I set the timer and got to business.
It took me 15 minutes.
Ten really but I cleaned off all the countertops and spent about 2 minutes throwing away old food from the fridge. But you guys… I did not die! I did not miss Scandal! I did not have to chained to the sink for an hour and half when I could have been using that to “be creative”
I washed the dishes, my kitchen was clean, and I made myself a DRANK and gleefully watched and yelled at Scandal without the scarlet letter of “Hoe, you still got dirty dishes in your sink” hanging over my head.
It was amaze, guize.
So I thought that was just a fluke. You know, what about those times when you can’t get the task done in the time you allotted or have available?
Meh. Then you don’t.
If I set myself a goal to write edit and post a blog post in 25 minutes. I do all I can in those 25 minutes. I focus on writing, editing, and posting for the FULL 2 minutes. No FaceBook. No mindless internet browsing. No obsessing over every word.
For the full extent of that 25 minutes, I’ve alloted myself.
I am writing.
I am editing.
I am posting.
That is it. That is all.
If I complete it in my allotted time, then I say Hell Yeha, HYFR but if I don’t… I evaluate the work I’ve done. Repeat my, “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done mantra”. And then if I’m just being a drama queen, I force myself to wrap it up and post.
But if I genuinely need more time. I give myself a small break if needed and continue working right then if possible.
If not I take 2 minutes to jot down any ideas I’m worried I’ll forget when I get a chance to come back to writing. And then I allot myself another writing session when its feasible, and pick up where I’ve left of from there. That’s it.
Point blank and THE PERIOD.
I won’t lie. Sometimes when I’m in a really good writing flow, I’ll just ignore the timer and write, write, write. I allow myself those creative lapses in time management occasionally.
For the most part, though, when I give myself a time period and a clear goal…
I get to work.
I get it done.
And I do it well.
The sense of accomplishment, I get from setting a smashing clear goal with my set boundaries feels way better than any artsy fartsy free-spirited aimless what the fuck should I do time I’ve wasted over the years… It’s even given me time to become a pretty prolific songwriter.
Sung to the tune of the Jammiest of all jams,
Cyndi Lauper’s “Time after Time”
If your lost you can look and you will find me…Timing my goals…
If I fail, I will catch up, I will not lose
I value time
If I’m lost and I’m late then you will find me
Checking the time
If I’m late, I will catch up
I WON’T BE WASTING
I value time…
I will be fine…
I value time….
I will be fine…
I value time…
I value time…
I value time…
HA!… I’m an idiot… and my timer just went off… So now… I’m done…
SistaTV Loves You!