Creativity can strike at any moment, but the unsexy truth is: you can be chockfull of creative energy and still not complete anything if you don’t know how to schedule yourself. Whether you carve out time just to journal or block off entire days to dig deep into your latest endeavor, scheduling is the key to creative success. But we all know that sometimes, things don’t go according to plan. In an ideal world, there are no distractions to prevent you from meeting your goals. But because we live in the real world, here are four tips, adapted from a new book that just landed in our office (FINISHING SCHOOL), to help you build a schedule that works with you:
- Make a list. List everything, including the small stuff like phoning a relative or taking out the trash. Experience the quick satisfaction of checking off some tasks right away. Plus, you always have an answer to the question, “where did the day go?” You know exactly how much you got done. Little tasks can end up taking a lot more time than you expect.
- Assign value to tasks. Will this or that task be fun or a drag? If it’s fun and you want to spend more time on it, allot more time to do it and structure the day in a way to protect that time. If it’s a drag, get it over with right away so the whole day is not colored by it. You can look forward to the afternoon when you’ve cleared your desk and have time for play and creativity. If you feel more creativity in the morning, flip your schedule accordingly.
- Keep yourself accountable. Estimate how much time each task will take and try to hold yourself to it. Of course, this is not always possible, but the more you focus on the actual amount of time a task takes, the easier it is to take control of your day.
- Don’t despair! Life rarely cooperates with your plans. Someone unexpected calls and sends you into a reverie, or you get upsetting news that takes up a chunk of your day. There is always tomorrow, which you acknowledge when you shift the tasks you didn’t complete to the next day. Remember to be flexible!
Check out this interview on NPR’s HearSay with Cathy Lewis and FINISHING SCHOOL‘s co-author Danelle Morton.
FINISHING SCHOOL is available at these retailers: