A Creative Career

Guru Natalie weighs in on Time Management

9 September, 2007

I hear you – the guffaws, the disbelief! Natalie, a guru of time management? Well according to Inspiration Bit, I am – so there! Watch in amazement as I meet the following criteria:

Are you juggling a busy family life and career?

I have dinner with my family every week (mostly) so we can catch up with one another. My family is very close, and I really have to credit them (and Mum’s puppies) for keeping me sane at times when my stress levels spiral out of control. My career is also taking off, whether I’m aboard the metaphorical aircraft or not… at my day job I’m actually taking on more responsibility by managing our Print and Creative departments. In the non-daylight and weekend hours you might find me designing logos, web sites and book layouts as a part of my freelance practice. I don’t even advertise, people come to me!

Are you working full time and still manage to blog?

Yes and yes. Although I’m still working on a definite plan of attack for this blog. Work informs my thoughts all the time though, you’d be surprised how many drafted blog posts I have squirrelled away. Not only do I manage to write, I manage to read. In fact, I need to read, to absorb the myriad information available to me on the net. My google reader is chock full of feeds that cover fashion, advertising, branding, business, design, inspiration and advice. I usually lunch at my desk and browse around, taking notes about the things I’d eventually like to flesh out in this here blog.

Do you have your hands full with multiple projects but succeed in keeping all of them under a reasonable control?

I’ve had to start scheduling offers of work for the future, rather than taking them on all at once.

Can you still find time for your favourite hobby despite the loads of work and tons of daily responsibilities?

My hobby is my work! I haven’t yet decided if this is a positive or a negative… I do find that the things I work on outside of my day job are much more akin to my own design ideologies. Corporate design can be dreary, but it still offers me problem solving opportunities every week. In my own time I tend to work on the frivolous ideas and fun things I day dream about.

Now I’ve satisfied the requirements, I’m going to delve into my tips for time management as part of Inspiration Bit’s Group Writing Project.

You can’t manage time, it just is. So “time management” is a mislabeled problem, which has little chance of being an effective approach. What you really manage is your activity during time, and defining outcomes and physical actions required is the core process required to manage what you do.
DAVID ALLEN

  • I’m a serious creature of habit. This helps with time management if you slip into the good habits rather than the bad…
  • Take advantage of your email software. Flag items you can’t deal with at the present time and mark them to follow up by a certain time.
  • Think about how to efficiently use your time. I hate sweating small stuff like filing, so I usually do all my paperwork/ invoicing/ yucky stuff, pile up the jobs/folders, and then run all of it to the filing cabinet. It’s little stuff like that I even have to remind my own boss about. Dealing with one job at a time, and running between the printer and filing cabinets wastes so much time – it doesn’t even make sense to me!
  • Don’t put off the sucky tasks. If it’s not something you can cross off your list with a few small actions, get a head start on it and lay the foundations. Don’t leave it until the last minute because it’s one sure way to elevate your stress levels and ensure a compromised outcome.
  • Graphic designers are visual people – so I arrange my queued job folders in order of priority in my “toast rack”. I have another toast rack for jobs that are pending approval, and others that have been sent to print.
  • I am a compulsive list writer. I take an insane kind of pride in my lists too – I usually put aside five minutes at the end of my working day to review what I’ve got to do the next day. I assign priorities down the right hand side of the page and I even do a bit of doodling as a bit of a “mind dump”.

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  • Thanks for your helpful tips, Natalie. Congratulations, you’ve successfully passed the Guru-qualification test! :-)

  • So true about not putting off the sucky tasks, they just pile up and add stress.

    Your comment about work as a hobby was interesting. You are lucky to enjoy work, that is a blessing!

  • It is tiring striving to number the hours we have used up looking for wedding flowers sites.