14 Effective Time Management Strategies for Creators & Influencers

Learn how to master time management, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and reduce stress and burnout.

Matt By Matt
19 Min Read

Managing time effectively is an art, especially when creativity is your profession. As a creative professional myself, I’ve found that success is as much about how I manage my schedule as it is about the quality of my work.

Mastering time management has helped me enhance my productivity, maintain a healthy work-life balance (most of the time), and reduce stress and possible burnout. It’s important to find techniques that resonate with your own workflow and to enable you to produce your best work consistently.

Time management for creatives and creators shouldn’t just about ticking tasks off a to-do list; it should be about aligning daily actions with your overall purpose, optimising peak hours of focus, and knowing when to delegate or automate the less creative aspects of our work.

In this article I’ve included a series of strategies that have helped me tackle each day with clarity and intention. Establishing an evening routine, too, plays a surprising but significant role in priming my mind for the following day, ensuring I approach each project with a fresh perspective.

Key Takeaways

  • Effective time management boosts productivity and helps maintain work-life balance.
  • Strategic planning and focusing techniques are crucial for high-quality creative work.
  • Both morning AND evening routines are vital for setting up a successful next day.

Planning Your Day

1. Morning Pages: A Powerful Tool for Boosting Productivity

I start my day with a simplified and adapted version of Morning Pages, a practice I learned from The Artist’s Way, where I jot down one to three pages of consciousness in a notebook for about 15 minutes. This clears my mind and readies me for the day ahead.

It’s a simple but effective method to transition me from a ‘foggy just woke up brain’, to a state of heightened creativity and focus.

2. Select Daily Highlights

Next, I select one to three main highlights for the day—these are tasks or projects that will make me feel great if completed. This helps me prioritise my workload effectively. For instance, if I aim to finish a design draft for a new post or digital product, that’s my highlight, and I ensure it’s scheduled into my calendar using a colour coded time box.

3. Write down Tasks and To-dos

Write down and list your tasks and todos in one place to get them out of your head and clear your mind.

I have a structured approach to listing tasks and to-do lists. I categorise tasks as ‘urgent’, ‘important’, and ‘long-term’, which helps me keep a clear perspective on my daily goals. My to-do list often looks like this:

  • Urgent: Respond to new or existing client emails
  • Important: Outline drafts for new content
  • Long-term: Research and learning new skills for upcoming project

This method aids in keeping my priorities straight and ensures that urgent tasks do not overshadow important creative work.

4. Implement Time Blocking

Finally, time blocking is a cornerstone of my day. I break my calendar into colour coded blocks dedicated to specific tasks, both creative and administrative.

For instance, 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM may be blocked off for creative work developing new products for my Etsy shop, while 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM is for emails and responding to clients.

Time blocking prevents task bleeding and keeps my schedule tidy and manageable. It also helps support me when I need to say “no” to a particular piece of work or request.

Enhancing Focus

 

As a creative, it’s vital to channel concentration and maintain mental clarity throughout the workday. Here’s how I tackle this challenge.

5. Minimise Distractions

The first step I take is actively reducing interruptions. I try to designate specific times to check emails and social media, preventing the constant influx of notifications from fragmenting my focus. When working on the most creative tasks, I often switch my phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’ or ‘Sleep’ mode so no sounds, vibrations or notifications will interrupt my flow state (except for emergency calls from people in my Contacts).

6. Boost Concentration with Binaural Beats Music

Binaural beats music is my go-to auditory companion when I need to deeply immerse myself in a task.

Binaural beats music involves two slightly different frequency tones, one in each ear, which creates a new tone in the brain known as a binaural beat. For instance, if a 300 Hz tone is played in one ear and a 310 Hz tone in the other, the brain will process a 10 Hz binaural beat, aligning with the alpha frequency range of brainwave activity.

The idea is that by exposing the brain to these beats, it can encourage the brainwaves to align with the frequency of the binaural beat, leading to states of relaxation, focus, or energy. Brainwaves range from high-frequency beta waves to low-frequency delta waves, each associated with different mental states.

Scientific evidence suggests that binaural beats can influence brain activity and cognitive functioning. For creativity, binaural beats in the alpha and theta ranges may be particularly beneficial, as these frequencies are associated with relaxed alertness and reduced anxiety, conducive to creative work.

Listening to binaural beats may help foster calm, creativity, and concentration, potentially improving mood and enhancing the flow of ideas. This makes binaural beats an attractive tool for artists, writers, and anyone engaged in creative pursuits.

While research on binaural beats is ongoing, many users report positive experiences when integrating this auditory stimulation into their creative processes. However, individual experiences with binaural beats can vary, and what works for one person may not work for another.

By playing these sounds through headphones, I find that they help to synchronise brain activity and foster a state of concentrated work, which is especially helpful during tasks that demand high cognitive effort.

I tend to listen on repeat to Binaural Beats playlists on Spotify that are designed for boosting creativity. More recently I’ve enjoyed listening to carefully curated binaural tracks in the MindValley app.

7. Use Adaptogens to Boost Mental Clarity

Finally, adaptogens have become a cornerstone of my daily routine to support sustained mental energy. My preference is an adaptogenic mushroom coffee that pairs the cognitive benefits of traditional coffee with the stabilising effects of mushrooms, assisting in keeping my mind sharp and clear throughout the day. This kind of mindful nutrition is what seems to be keeping me agile and inventive in my work.

By employing these strategies, I’ve crafted a work environment that nurtures focus and minimises the allure of multitasking—transforming potential distractions into a well-orchestrated daily rhythm.

Mastering Time Efficiency

8. Apply Parkinson’s Law

I’ve found that setting clear, strict deadlines for myself compresses work to fit within the allotted time—a practical application of Parkinson’s Law. This principle states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. By shortening deadlines where realistic, I increase my work intensity and focus, thereby reducing procrastination. This strategy has significantly boosted my efficiency and productivity.

To illustrate, imagine a task is to generate a week’s worth of content. If I give myself a full week, the work tends to stretch out, filling the days with lower productivity. Instead, I might set a two-day deadline, compartmentalising the bulk of the creative process into a concentrated effort. The pressure of the reduced timeframe heightens my sense of urgency and propels me into a flow state, where my creativity becomes more focused and potent.

 

9. Content Batching Strategy

For content creation, I’ve adopted batch production, which has streamlined my process considerably. Rather than sporadically developing content, I align similar tasks and execute them in batches. This method reduces the start-up and wind-down periods between different tasks which can disrupt my flow.

Here’s an example of how I batch content:

  1. Idea Generation: Dedicate a few hours solely to brainstorming new content or products for my Etsy shop.
  2. Writing: Reserve blocks of time only for drafting posts for my Substack without interruption.
  3. Editing: Allocate a dedicated session to review and tweak all content from the drafting phase.
  4. Graphic Design: Design all visuals in one sitting using Canva.
  5. Scheduling: Use project management tools, such as TODOist or Notion, to plan the release of content over the coming month.

By doing so, I not only save time but also maintain a consistent quality and style across my outputs. Additionally, using project management tools that fit into my working approach I can visually organise my batch tasks and deadlines, enhancing my ability to manage projects efficiently.

Outsourcing and Automation

Effectively utilising outsourcing and automation is like having a personal assistant dedicated to certain tasks so I can focus on the higher value ticket items. Here’s how I integrate these strategies into my workflow.

10. Delegate Routine Tasks

When it comes to tasks that are necessary but not necessarily the best use of my creative time, I do my best to delegate.

My philosophy is simple: identify tasks that others can perform with the same level of quality and delegate them.

I’ve recently started to use Notion to assign tasks to team members. For instance, I might delegate social media management to someone who specialises in that area, while I spend more time on the creative aspects of a project.

Over fifteen years ago I built an entire award-winning tech startup using this approach, leveraging incredible talent found on Upwork and Fiverr.

11. Streamline Workflows with Automated Scheduling

Scheduling can be a time-consuming process, which is why I’ve turned to automation to streamline parts of my calendar.

With automated scheduling tools, such as Calendly, I’m able to set up meetings without the back-and-forth emails. I also like to use Zapier to connect different applications and automate reminders and follow-ups.

Productive Work Techniques

I’ve learnt that implementing specific work techniques is crucial to managing my time effectively.

12. Leveraging the Pomodoro Technique

I’ve found the Pomodoro Technique to be remarkably efficient for maximising focus and curtailing procrastination. This method involves dividing my workday into short intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, followed by a short break. Here’s how I typically apply this strategy:

  • Work Session (25 mins): I tackle a single task with undivided attention.
  • Short Break (5 mins): I step back, rest, and reset my mental focus.
  • Repeat: I repeat this cycle four times.
  • Longer Break (15-20 mins): After completing four Pomodoros, I indulge in a longer respite.

I try to enhance the Pomodoro Technique by utilising the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritise tasks effectively; the most urgent and essential tasks get my attention during the first Pomodoros of the day. This helps me deal with important deadlines first and ensures I’m not just busy but productive.

For activities that demand deeper concentration, I sometimes adjust the intervals to better suit the task at hand, similar to what’s known as the Flowtime Technique. By monitoring my engagement and fatigue levels, and taking breaks accordingly, I ensure I’m working efficiently rather than just clocking in hours.

Time blocking is another crucial aspect I combine with the Pomodoro Method. It allows me to allocate specific blocks of time to different tasks or categories of work throughout the day, strengthening my commitment to focused work periods without the distraction of multitasking.

By adhering to these structured intervals and prioritisation frameworks, I give my daily routine a rhythm that wards off procrastination and aligns with my creative flow, thereby bolstering my output significantly.

Why an Evening Routine is so Important for Creators and Influencers

For creative individuals, an evening routine is a cornerstone for ensuring a rejuvenating sleep and fostering a fertile ground for ideas. A structured night-time regimen helps in decluttering the mind and preparing it for the next surge of creativity.

13. Daily gratitude

I make it a habit to write down at least one thing I’m thankful for each day. It could be that I’m thankful for a productive day, or I’m thankful for my health, family and dog.

This practice of daily gratitude is not just feel-good fluff; it’s been shown to improve happiness, reduce anxiety, and boost mental clarity and focus, which are vital for my creative process. Reflecting on the positives helps me end the day on an uplifting note, paving the way for a peaceful night’s sleep and a more productive wake up.

14. Effective sleep hygiene routine

Creating an effective sleep hygiene routine involves several steps. Around an hour before bed, I step away from all devices with screens, including TV, computer and smartphone. The blue light emitted from devices is notorious for disrupting the body’s ability to produce melatonin. The only exception to this is my eBook reader, which for me is the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, as the screen is designed to emit a type of warm light which has little or no impact on my sleep.

Instead, I choose to read a book, which helps me wind down and feeds my imagination with new stories and ideas.

By taking these steps, I’m investing in my creativity. Good sleep is not a luxury; it’s a necessity for a mind that aspires to generate new ideas and view the world through an innovative lens.

Frequently Asked Questions

In my research, these questions often arise when discussing how to manage time effectively, especially for those of us juggling creativity with productivity.

What are some innovative methods for managing time for creative projects?

I find that breaking projects down into smaller, manageable tasks helps maintain momentum without overwhelming creativity. I also dedicate time to brainstorming and let those ideas simmer by scheduling incubation periods.

What strategies do successful individuals employ to optimise their daily schedules?

Successful people I’ve observed set clear priorities and use techniques like time-blocking to allocate specific hours to focused work. They often start their day with the most challenging tasks to take advantage of their peak energy levels.

What are the primary principles underpinning effective time management?

The core principles include setting clear goals, prioritising tasks based on importance, minimising distractions, and being disciplined in sticking to a schedule while allowing for some flexibility.

As a student in the creative arts, how can one balance academic responsibilities with personal projects?

I’ve learnt the importance of compartmentalising time; devoting set hours to studies and separate, dedicated time for personal creative pursuits, ensuring neither is neglected.

What tools or apps can assist creatives in tracking their time to ensure productivity?

Using apps like Toggl for time tracking, will enable you to see where your time is spent, and tools like Trello for planning and visualising project stages.

How can integrating time management techniques into my routine enhance my creative output?

By deliberately managing my time, I create a structured space for creativity to thrive, reduce stress by avoiding last-minute rushes, and ensure consistent progress on projects.

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By Matt
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I'm the Creative Director at Bona Parle. I'm also a freelance portrait and headshot photographer, award-winning filmmaker, film Colourist and a multi-award winning LGBTQ+ human rights campaigner. For part of my week I lead a successful UK-based charity that brings families closer to together.