The Creative Schedule

As I work with artists and creative business owners, the topic of time-management always comes up. Maybe you know exactly what you need to do to get your work propelled in the right direction, but you’re not sure when you’re ever going to fit it into your life.

I get it. This has really been challenging for me, especially since my schedule is always shifting depending on the day and the job I’m working.

Despite the inconsistencies in my schedule, though, I need to feel some momentum– like I’m working towards the goals that I’ve set for myself, even when there are a lot of other things on my plate. And what it comes down to, I’ve decided, is finding and utilizing peak creative times. Author and entrepreneur Jonathan Fields writes about this in his book Uncertainty.

Essentially, we all have really different times of the day that we do great work. Rather than fighting this, Fields writes that we should take note of this and use it to our advantage.

So, rather than using my morning time– when I’m the most creatively productive– to answer emails, scroll twitter, or go through mindless edits on a document, I should really use this time to do the things that take the most brainpower (writing, meetings, future planning). During my afternoon slump I can read internet articles, answer emails, or take a break to run errands, because these activities are less dependent on big brain and energy surges.

I like Fields thoughts on creative productivity, because they aren’t geared towards getting creative people to figure out how they can be working ALL THE TIME. Instead, it’s about figuring out how you can do better work, so that your down time is also more satisfying.

So, I’m experimenting. Hopefully working during my peak creative times will help me get better work done. Because, momentum breeds momentum.

Fellow freelancers: How do you plan your schedules? What works? What doesn’t?

Check out more great stuff about peak creation windows from Jonathan Fields.


2 thoughts on “The Creative Schedule

  1. I am ALL ON BOARD with targeting peak creative times. It’s just that I’ve found that, sadly, my peak creative times are roughly between 3 pm and 7 pm. Which… is pretty sad when I consider that I’m usually trying to get 7 billable hours into the day, and also that 7 pm is not a normal work hour for everyone else I know.

    I struggle SO MUCH with managing my time, because I keep trying to wedge it into normal working hours. I’m afraid that if I don’t, I’ll never be able to go out for happy hour or pitch in on making dinner because I’ll be frantically trying to make sure I can get all my hours in for the day before I go to sleep.

    The creativity ebbs and flows, too, which is why sometimes I’m bursting at the seams with everything I want to do and other times I can’t dredge anything out of me to save my life. It’s a really difficult balance for me, because I want to recognize my natural creative times while also having a schedule… and that just can’t always happen. It also doesn’t help that I was always a “do my homework first so I can play later” kind of kid. The thought of saving work until later in the day when I can concentrate on it more makes sense, but also scares the bejesus out of me, because then I’m putting off the part of the day I want to get over with most.

    Ugh, sorry to hijack your post with my own contractor scheduling issues. I’d like to hear more about what you find!

    • Hi Lyn!

      Your comment made me think of something Ben is always telling me– ‘Either go do work or stop thinking about needing to go do work.’ Which is way easier said than done (for me).

      Do you need to have the same schedule every day? My brain is in sensitive depression mode right now, so I thrive on habits. Ben likes a different schedule every day, depending on deadlines. Maybe you can start work at 2 or 3 for 3 days of the week, and you still have a couple where you could hang with the ‘normal’ schedule people. Or, you could hike it back to start just a little earlier, and still cover most of your peak times.

      I guess the key thing that I’ve found is that fighting myself is a waste of energy. If I get my stuff done (especially, done well) then I’m happy. And, if I don’t, then I’m anxious. What’s the least-anxiety solution?

      Thanks for commenting– and let me know what you figure out!

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