Time Management for Creatives

7 strategies + 2 worksheets to help you achieve more in less time.

Unlike traditional professionals, your work as a creative relies heavily on inspiration and deep focus.

Deep work is a concept that emphasizes the importance of focused, uninterrupted work sessions to achieve maximum productivity and ‘flow states’. By eliminating distractions and dedicating time to concentrate on your most important creative output, you can produce higher quality work in less time.

Here are seven more strategies to help you make sure you are always putting points on the board. These are my personal go-to practices for achieving massive productivity:

1. The Big Domino: Focus on the One Thing

The Big Domino concept revolves around identifying the one critical task that, if accomplished, makes everything else easier or irrelevant. This is your highest leverage point—the task that drives your creative output and success.

When you knock down the BIG DOMINO, all the other dominos fall behind it.

Why It Matters for Creatives

Your creative work must move forward in the face of endless distractions, countless ideas, and a multitude of unfinished projects all competing for your attention.

By pinpointing the Big Domino, you channel your energy into what truly matters.

This helps cut through the noise and focus on tasks that have the most significant impact.

Implementation Tips

  • Identify Your Big Domino: Reflect on your projects and identify the one task that will make the biggest difference. This could be finishing a particular song, setting up a pivotal collaboration, or mastering a new production technique.

  • Dedicate Time: Allocate your best, most focused hours to tackle this task. For many creatives, this might be the morning when your mind is freshest. Guard this time fiercely and avoid any distractions.

2. Eliminate, Automate, Delegate: Streamline Your Work

This principle involves evaluating all your tasks and deciding which to eliminate, automate, or delegate.

Focus on your 80/20—identifying the 20% of tasks that yield 80% of your results.

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, asserts that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.

In business, it often means that 80% of sales come from 20% of clients, or 80% of problems can be traced back to 20% of causes. This rule highlights the importance of identifying and focusing on the most impactful factors to optimize efficiency and effectiveness.

Why It Matters for Creatives

By eliminating unnecessary tasks, automating repetitive ones, and delegating where possible, you can concentrate on what truly drives your success.

Implementation Tips

  • Eliminate: Cut out tasks that don't add significant value. This might include unnecessary meetings, time-sucking commitments, or low-impact projects.

  • Automate: Use tools and software like Zapier to automate routine tasks. There is a learning curve to setting up automations, but it is totally worth it. For HOME, we currently automate about 5,000 tasks per month using Zapier and thousands more using Monday.com.

  • Delegate: Hand off tasks that others can do as well or better than you. This could include hiring a virtual assistant, collaborating with a co-producer, or contracting with a marketing specialist.

3. Who Not How: Build Your Team

When creative, capable people are faced with a challenge, the instinct is often to figure out how to do it yourself.

Instead of thinking about how you can do it, think about who can help you… think ‘who NOT how’.

Yes, you will often have to pay other talented people to help you, but building a team is an investment in your business's potential.

Make it a habit to invest in other talented people and they will invest in you!

Why It Matters for Creatives

To build a creative business, you have to wear many hats, from artist to marketer to manager and financial planner.

This can lead to burnout and disillusionment with your chosen path.

By asking "Who can help?" rather than "How can I do this?", you leverage others' expertise and free up more time for your core creative work - your prolific quality output (PQO) - another strategy outlined in a section below.

Implementation Tips

  • Identify Tasks to Delegate: List tasks that can be outsourced—social media management, administrative work, or content production. Focus on your strengths and what only you can do.

  • Invest in Your Team: Be willing to invest money in building a team. This investment pays off by allowing you to focus on your high-impact creative tasks. Remember, spending money wisely on the right people and support systems yields exponential returns in productivity and quality.

4. Prolific Quality Output (PQO): Continuously Outperform Yourself

Brendon Burchard’s PQO framework is a highly important concept that emphasizes optimizing your life for the quality and quantity of your creative output.

You build your lifestyle around the tasks and activities that consistently result in your best creative work.

For me, that means spending a lot of time each week writing out these posts so that I can share helpful tools and tips with the Homies.

For you, PQO might simply mean making sure that your lifestyle revolves around giving you ample time and headspace to create the best music that you possibly can. It also means making sure that you become very consistent in putting out high quality work more often than most people do.

This sets you apart and gives you an edge in a highly competitive industry.

Why It Matters for Creatives

Your goal is to produce high-quality work consistently. PQO isn't just about working hard; it's about working on what you are best at. By concentrating on high-impact activities, you ensure that your output is not only prolific but also of the highest quality.

Implementation Tips

  • Focus on High-Impact Tasks: Identify the tasks that contribute most to your creative success. These are the activities that lead to your best work—writing new music, producing tracks, or polishing your live performance.

  • Measure and Adjust: Regularly assess the impact of your work. Are you producing your highest quality output? Is your quality and output increasing over time? If not, adjust your schedule and focus your energy on this PQO principle.

5. Capture, Clarify, Organize: The GTD Method

The Getting Things Done (GTD) method involves capturing all your tasks and ideas, clarifying what they are, and organizing them into actionable steps. This keeps your mind clear and focused.

I will go deeper into the GTD method in a future post, but for now, know this: GTD is the most comprehensive system I have ever learned that solves the problem of dealing with the overwhelming amount of ‘stuff’ that comes at you.

GTD is like the filing system for your entire life.

Why It Matters for Creatives

Creativity thrives in a clutter-free mind.

The GTD method helps you manage the chaos of ideas, tasks, commitments, and things that you don’t want to forget. It ensures nothing important slips through the cracks, which gives your mind more room for creativity!

Implementation Tips

  • Capture: Write down every task, idea, or commitment as soon as it comes to mind. Use a notebook or digital tool to ensure nothing is lost or forgotten.

  • Clarify: Regularly review your captured items and decide what each one means—what's the next action? This step is crucial for turning abstract ideas into concrete tasks.

  • Organize: Sort your clarified tasks into categories - projects, next actions, things you’ll need to keep for later, or things that you may want to do later - and prioritize them. This structured approach keeps your workload manageable and your mind clear.

The GTD method is deeply related to the Levels of Attention and Commitment framework that I recently shared. Combine the two systems for next level project management results.

6. The Eisenhower Matrix and Action Priority Matrix

When talking about prioritization, most people refer back to the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps you prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance.

I suggest you also use the Action Priority Matrix, which categorizes tasks by effort and impact. This gives you another layer of clarity about what you should focus your time and energy on.

Why It Matters for Creatives

With multiple projects and responsibilities, it's so easy to get overwhelmed.

The Eisenhower Matrix helps you distinguish between tasks that need immediate attention and those that can wait, keeping you on track and focused on high-impact activities. The Action Priority Matrix adds another layer by helping you assess the effort required versus the impact of your tasks, ensuring you're working smart, not just hard.

Implementation Tips for the Eisenhower Matrix

  • Categorize Tasks: Divide your tasks into four categories:

    • Urgent and Important: Tasks that require immediate attention and are crucial for your goals. These should be your top priority.

    • Not Urgent but Important: Tasks that are important but can be scheduled for later. Plan time blocks for these tasks. See the next section below for more on time blocking.

    • Urgent but Not Important: Tasks that demand immediate attention but are less important. Delegate these tasks if possible.

    • Not Urgent and Not Important: Tasks that are neither important nor urgent and can often be eliminated.

Implementation Tips for the Action Priority Matrix

  • Categorize by Effort and Impact: Assess each task based on the effort required and the impact it will have. Place them into one of four quadrants:

    • High Impact, Low Effort: Prioritize these tasks as they yield significant results with minimal effort.

    • High Impact, High Effort: Important but challenging tasks that require substantial time and energy. Plan for these in your schedule using time blocks.

    • Low Impact, Low Effort: These can be handled during downtime or delegated.

    • Low Impact, High Effort: Consider eliminating these tasks as they consume a lot of resources without much return.

Combining the Matrices

  • High Impact, Urgent and Important: These are your critical tasks. Tackle them first.

  • High Impact, Not Urgent but Important: Schedule these tasks to ensure long-term success. This is about being proactive.

  • Low Impact, Urgent but Not Important: Delegate these tasks to free up your time. Consider automating if they are repetitive tasks.

  • Low Impact, Not Urgent and Not Important: Eliminate these tasks to avoid wasting time.

See below for two worksheets to help you apply the priority matrices.

7. Task Batching and Time Blocking: Structured Creativity

Task batching involves grouping similar tasks together, while time blocking dedicates specific chunks of time to groups of similar activities. This approach helps maintain focus and efficiency.

Why It Matters for Creatives

Switching between unrelated tasks disrupts your creative flow.

By batching and blocking time, you stay immersed in one type of work, reducing mental fatigue and increasing productivity.

Implementation Tips

  • Batch Similar Tasks: Group related activities together—dedicate time for songwriting, then switch to marketing tasks, and finally handle administrative duties. This minimizes the cognitive load of constantly shifting gears.

  • Block Your Time: Set clear time blocks for each batch. For example, use mornings for creative work, afternoons for marketing, and evenings for admin tasks. Stick to these blocks to create a consistent routine.

Staying Inspired: The Heart of Creative Productivity

Above all, staying inspired is essential for maintaining your Prolific Quality Output (PQO).

Inspiration fuels your creativity and drives your best work.

Tips to Stay Inspired

  • Routine and Rituals: Establish routines that nurture your creativity. Morning yoga, meditation, or a walk can set the perfect tone for the day.

  • Environment: Create a workspace that inspires you. Surround yourself with things that spark your creativity—music, art, or quotes.

  • Breaks and Balance: Take regular breaks to recharge. Balance work with activities that refresh your mind and body. Inspiration often strikes when you least expect it, so make time for relaxation and leisure.

For more tips on staying inspired, be sure to review my recent post Inspiration is EASY’.

By embracing techniques like these you can optimize your productivity and maintain high levels of inspiration.

Stay inspired, stay focused, and watch your creative potential soar.