Oct
20

How Do You Find the Time?

Practice that technique.  Work on craft. Draft grant proposal. Begin passion project. Be a good friend. Go to concerts. Take kids to the ballgame. Leave a legacy. Develop website. Improve skills. Read blogs. Market CD. Rewrite bio. Pay bills. Build brand. Meet spouse. Teach. Study. Network. Sleep. Think. Eat. Compose. Gig.

 AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who has time to do all this stuff?

By our very nature, entrepreneurial artists always have too much to do, with an eruption of great ideas and initiatives in the pipeline.  Finding time to address everything can be tough.  As a result, many artists make little forward progress on important life goals year after year, despite the reality that they’re constantly frantic with work. If this scenario sounds familiar, here are some tips that can help:

 1)      Write it down.  Study after study have shown that people who write down their “to do list” have an exponentially greater chance of getting things done than those who don’t.

2)      Prioritize by urgency.  Rate each activity on your list in order of urgency.

3)      Prioritize by importance. In a separate column, rate each activity in order of importance as they relate to overall life goals. 

4)      Compare ratings.  In all likeliness, these two hierarchies look quite different.  “Urgent tasks” may be taking over, preventing progress on truly important aspirations.

5)      Re-prioritize.  Find ways to reduce the number of urgent-but-less-meaningful tasks.  And re-think your priorities—there should always be at least 1-2 life goals in your urgent column!

6)      Get more done: do less. Most of us have about 80 pressing things that need attention at every moment.  Yet when overwhelmed with demands, little noticeable progress in any aspect often results. Pick periods of your life to focus primarily on one or two major goals, rather than trying to do everything at once.

7)      Map your activities.  Many artists have no idea where all the time goes.  To find out, keep tabs on everything you do during an average month. Then analyze the results, and make changes as needed. You will be enlightened by the results.

8)      Identify and eliminate distractions.  It may only be 2 minutes here and 5 minutes there, but little diversions add up.  See what kinds of inefficiencies corrode your schedule, and exterminate or minimize them. Some common time wasters:

  • Checking e-mail constantly
  • Answering phone calls throughout the day (which also interrupts momentum)
  • Surfing the web
  • Watching TV
  • Drinking coffee
  • Chatting about nothing

9)      Schedule your schedule.   Compose a detailed plan showing how your minutes will be allocated throughout the week.  Then stick to it. Though this requires a time investment upfront, the efficiency that results makes the investment extraordinarily valuable.  

10)  Be specific.  Sure, you scheduled an hour for “personal marketing.” But what does that mean?  Work on web design?  Network?  Write a news release?  Clearly specify which objectives should be accomplished during each window.  This way you’ll know just what to do, and can clearly observe whether you made adequate progress.

11)  Get into routines.  Make your schedule as consistent as possible.  Habits save time.

12)  Don’t procrastinate.  When it’s time, just do it. Don’t permit excuses, distractions, or delays.

13)  Just say “no.”  There may be hoards of people asking you to help with this and work with that.  But if you don’t have time, politely decline the offer. Saying no doesn’t mean you’re a bad person!  They will understand. 

14)  Delegate and outsource. There are undoubtedly time consuming, non-specialized tasks in your life that others could help accomplish.  Farm it out.  Find a local high school student to help for a small fee.  Have your niece do the work in exchange for flute lessons. Do you know about virtual assistants?  These workers are available for hire to do just about any kind of clerical work imaginable. 

15)  Take a break. Nobody can work 24-7.  Most of us wind up taking breaks periodically throughout the day, and then feel guilty about them.  Instead, schedule breaks into the master plan, and enjoy every moment. Work when you work, and play when you play!

16)  There is never enough time; there is always enough time.  Life may always seem busy, but if something is important enough, there is a way to get it done.

  • anonymous

    Great techniques fro managing a hectic schedule! I’ve been working on implementing some of these for my own busy life and they always seem to work (when i stick to them). The discipline is the toughest part of it. Some of the things in the list of distraction can be tough sometimes. Effective ideas- but not easy to stay consistent with.

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