Six Time Management Tips To Create More Space In Your Life :: PWP #7

back_to_the_future_part_2

Find ways to double your time and energy.

Make progress on your own creative projects even when you don’t have time in your existing schedule. Start creating actively instead of living re-actively.

Learn to overlap & merge your work on your personal projects with mundane and mindless tasks. Examine your routines creatively and find time you never thought you had!

Press PLAY and enjoy another jam-packed, creative explosion!

Comment and Share:

Look for areas in your life where you could possibly do “double-time” and share in the comments below!  Let’s brainstorm and help each other create more space in our lives!

Episode Resources:

WACOM Contest Rules [contest closed]

To Appomattox

Lora Innes on the TGT Podcast

Sara Searle’s Fellowship

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

Illopond.com

Zach Bosteel

Rival Angels

Never Be Late Again by Diana DeLonzor

Comments

  1. says

    First time chiming in here…I like to keep a file open on my desktop while at work so I can switch to it real quick if I come up with a cool story fix or idea or just a good sentence. Also good for if I overhear somebody say something that strikes me as funny and might be good for a character to say.

    Really love the podcast!

    • says

      Thanks for sharing, Ben! That’s a great point!

      I do something similar but I like to have a paper pad next to me – then I put everything into Things at the end of the day (iPhone or Desktop version depending on where I am).

  2. says

    Another great episode, guys. I second the “media blackout.” I find myself considerablly more productive (and more creative) when I don’t have media to distract me. I tend to shy away from audio books, since words distract me – instead I listen to music that inspires scenes or characters when writing.

    When drawing I’ll sometimes have TV on in the background, but it has to be something I can ignore and tune out – typically sit coms on Netflix or movies I’ve already seen. It’s just background noise at that point.

    • says

      I’m much like you Trevor, when I’m in the zone, I cannot listen to something “new” and really get anything out of it. I love podcasts and audio books for work because what I do often is very repetitive and does not require a lot of thought, so I can give my attention to the audio book/podcast. Often when I’m totally focused on illustrating, I listen movie score soundtracks i.e. Inception, The Dark Knight, Tron Legacy, Book of Eli, etc. they provide a good mood for me.

      • says

        Yeah, I have different processes that I do throughout the day and only some of them allow for book/ podcast listening.

        …but there are SO many times where I’m performing pretty mindless tasks. A little creativity can transform mindless stuff into productive “double time.”

        A perfect example is when I record ArtCasts while walking my dog!

    • says

      I know Mike can’t listen to audio books when he works either. I think we’re all different.

      I think the tip to turn off audible alerts in my email, etc, came from you, actually, Trevor! So thanks! :)

  3. says

    Awesome Podcast. A time management tip I just realized help me ton was actually “Anger Management” – most people wouldn’t call me an angry person, but I am prone to over think/dwell on the negative things that happen. I was in a job where the environment was tough – where I found that instead of using redundant-task-time to think creatively, I was stewing about how unfair things were and why I was right about controversial subjects. I tried many methods to stop these angry stewings, but the best method was to go to the source of negative and give it a healthy dose of positive. For example, if a certain person said something negative to me, I’d think of something positive about them and tell them, or I’d do something nice for them. It wasn’t easy, but somehow this freed my mind so I could use my brainpower for more creative pursuits.

    I also began to notice that I could trace many negative events back to my own mistakes, so I created a document I called SW Training Manual and organized information there including : technical info I need to remember, thoughts to maximize creativity, being the best coworker I can be, etc. This organization spurred other discoveries and during this time of reinvention – including an idea for a potentially great screenplay/film.

    I hadn’t realized until listening to this podcast that this was not only a lesson in anger management but time management as well…having less to worry or stew about certainly frees the mind!

    • says

      Scott, thank you so much for your vulnerability. I know I’ve wasted a lot of time in the past attempting to work out a conflict with someone via email when 1.) A phone call would have been faster and more effective and 2.) Maybe I shouldn’t have engaged at all.

      This is really great insight.

      • says

        Haha…I guess my comment was pretty vulnerable – I don’t really think of it as such because it ended up being such a great experience. In that job, I ended up being able to turn most negatives to positives, build great relationships out of rocky ones, and grow a ton : to ACT rather than REACT.

        So Sarah, there are tons of books about worry and I can’t remember the one I listened too, but there was a great tip in there to conquer worry (which is an extremely common problem to the human race) The tip was : “When something is worrying you, ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen as a result of this problem?’ Once you face that possibility, somehow it seems less serious.” And I like your point that if your brain has something great and positive to focus on, then your brain won’t have time to dwell in the dolldrums.

        • says

          Asking the “What is the worst possible outcome” question is always a great one for dealing with anxiety. Most of the time, when we spell it out like that, we can live with it. And let’s be real. MOST of the time, “the worst” never happens.

        • Alex says

          Scott,I relate to this as well.

          I guess it really makes sense for creative people to come up with creative ways to resolve conflicts and internal issues as well.

          Generally, the get-over-it mentality is counter-productive, because it just creates more anxiety and inner turmoil.

          I, too, have found that the confession of the facts lends to more freedom, then holding on to it. It makes for easier progress, especially, when there are more pressing matters like your job or important responsibilities.

          In fact I have found that doing it that way allows for a release and it is easier to come back to the issue, personal or otherwise later when it is a better and more free time to handle it.

    • says

      here here! Negative thoughts and attitudes are one of the biggest enemies of our productivity and inspiration. However, you can’t just magically get rid of them either. Willing ourselves to be happy almost never works.

      So thank you for this practical tip in that area. I think owning our own mistakes and responsibilities in a situation is a difficult thing to do, but goes a long way toward helping us see the situation in a more honest light.

    • says

      I’m a dweller, too – just more on stressful things in general, rather than angry ones (I actually just talked with Lora about this today!). Something that really helps me is just to block out everything and really concentrate on what I’m doing at that moment, whether it’s something at work or a task at home. If you let your mind wander, it’s easy to get stuck on negative things and stew yourself into quite a mood. Really focusing clears everything out, and also helps with productivity!

    • Figgs says

      I know how that feels. I’ve spent a lot of time steaming about a myriad of different things, that ultimately weren’t worth the trouble, when I could have been using that time to focus on creative thoughts. I’m trying to to learn to let go of things, and mellow out.

  4. says

    Uh-oh, Chris, you got 1-up’ed by Lora in the sound quality department with her new Mic! Well, that was a great episode again on such an important part of getting art/writing done. I do find myself trying to magically create more hours in the day, and the tips you two shared will actually help us create more time! Thanks for the shout out to the illopond for collaboration! I hope all you listeners who are looking for the opportunity to get motivated on a project, and get other artists to help you stay motivated and provide feedback, please come join us at http://www.illopond.com, we look forward to collaborating with you!
    Chris and Lora, I’m looking forward to the next episode! Character development has really been something I’ve been wanted learning more about! You two have spent a lot of time helping us develop our personal productivity and presentation skills. Now this will help us with some of the nuts and bolts of our characters! Thanks you guys, for being such a great support to all of us out here!

    • says

      Yeah! There was something wrong with my audio file so we had to use the backup recording from Skype.

      Love what you’re doing at IlloPond!

    • says

      I actually sabotaged Chris’s mic–he just doesn’t know it. I wanted to make sure my new mic *really* stood out during it’s debut. ;)

      And you & I are both really excited about the next episode. This is my favorite kind of stuff to talk about!

  5. says

    I didn’t realize what a time sink email and Tweetdeck actually were. My computer overheated and shut down on me and when it came back up, I forgot to open those time-sinky applications and ending up getting an extra 1/2 day’s worth of work done!
    It seems obvious now in hindsight. :P

    • Chris Oatley says

      Yeah – I’ve looked into setting up a clients-only email notification system for use during work hours.

      I’m not sure if there’s a way to do that.

      I need the “DING” for Disney stuff but I don’t want the “DING” for other stuff.

  6. says

    Great episode. This is exactly the type of stuff I need to hear right now. Over-committing is the quickest way to sabotage productivity.

    Got a great recommendation from a friend on an app to help with the media fast type stuff. “Freedom” and “Anti Social” are two great apps for shutting off the internet or just social networks. If you have a “checking” compulsion, like I do, it helps to have an app that makes it impossible to check email or websites while you’re trying to be productive. I personally prefer Anti Social. It allows you to create a list of websites for it to block. You can still look for image ref. without being distracted by facebook or wikipedia tangents. Check it out: http://macfreedom.com/

  7. Derrick " Captain DUTZ" Utz says

    Hello Paper Winger’s!!,

    Thank you for another awesome podcast and for all of the great info! I especially appreciate the pointers about the time sucks and routines. One of the worst time sucks for me is the “smart phone” that end ups making a dummy of my schedule if I let it and then poof, 10 minutes are gone forever ( and you are right, we all only get 24 of those hour things in a day). I’ve had to learn to be more aware of the problem and keep it out of hand’s reach at times that I am prone to toy with it. Especially when I do not intend to do anything productive. Just a discipline factor there. The other great point was about the all mighty routine!?! I was lucky enough to inherit my mother’s lack of an internal clock so I really have a loose concept of this thing called time (just ask my wife, ha!) Something that I do in the morning to aid me in this is leaving the snooze active on my phone. This helps me because as I am going through the activities, many times oblivious to how long I’m taking, every 10 minute it is there reminding me that I need to finish and get going to the office.

    An additional tool I have added to help me track/itemize my progress with my personal project is a “Task Sheet”. The indie comic submission I am helping with is very detailed and involved so I set up a sheet to keep me organized. As I look forward and asses the next few steps I write them down and check them off and even note a completion percentage in a column on the unfinished items. This is to help me “see” more getting finished practically daily. I even itemize the blue line/sketch stage of each page just so I know where I am in the process. That sheet is then kept as the first page in the binder and readily accessible for a glance just to keep me thinking about the items even if I am not directly working on them.

    These are just a few tools that have kept me afloat and safe from drowning in my own attention span…er, lack there of. Chris and Lora, I just want to say thank you for setting this up and helping others like myself with the nuts and bolts of your professional inner-workings. It is a huge help to know what steps y’all (sorry, Texan) have taken to get you your very different levels of success. Note: when I say success, I mean a creative profession that sustains you, it’s a beautiful thing!
    Also thank you to all of the great comments on the blog and podcasts from the other readers, really useful stuff!!

    Take care me ‘Maties, ‘Yo ‘Ho!
    Captain Dutz

    • Chris Oatley says

      Thank YOU, Captain. We appreciate your insights and encouragement. Glad you’re here.

    • says

      OMG, I love the idea of leaving your snooze on to keep you from just getting lost in social media, and all the rabbit holes on the internet.

      I separate the different levels of drawing my pages into different “to dos” also. It’s very rewarding to check things off! but also, it gives you a better idea of where you are at in your process.

  8. says

    Great stuff! I am really enjoying these podcasts and am looking forward to future episodes.

    It’s interesting Chris mentioned ideas in the shower. Someone on either Twitter or the blog-o-sphere at large mentioned the same issue. They solved it by keeping a grease pencil in their shower to write & draw ideas right there on the walls. Assuming one’s shower walls are an easy-to-clean surface (tile?) that might be helpful. Just give everyone else using the shower a heads up. I’d imagine it might catch somebody off guard.

    • Chris Oatley says

      That is actually a really great idea and I think I’m going to implement it right away.

  9. Figgs says

    Hey, been a fan since episode one, and a fan of Chris’s for even longer. I haven’t posted, because I was always a bit nervous. However, I feel I like I finally have some good stuff to add. I love what you said about double time, and I’m trying to apply that to my day job. Only problem is my day job is a very labor intensive activity. I’m constantly moving, if only to appear busy (lots of down time, but higher ups hate looking at you sit there). I can’t listen to anything nor can I really carry anything around. I currently use my lunches, breaks etc, instead of eating, to draw and warm up for when I get home. So just because job may not afford you the comfort of some mindless jobs, you can still find ways to work within it.

    If anyone has better ways I could be using double time while I’m actually working, I’d love to hear them.

    • Chris Oatley says

      Great to hear from you, Figgs! I’ve been known to miss many a meal because I was so focused on my work…

    • says

      The point is to find opportunities and make the most of the spaces you do have time. It sounds like for you, work isn’t one of them. But it sounds like you’re finding other spaces other places besides work hours–which is the whole point! Awesome!

      • Figgs says

        Thanks! I just got out of high school and then got a full time job, so I haven’t really had the chance to focus on art full time, so what little time I do have is always always art focused. It’s a pain, but it’s necessary, I suppose. Love the show, and both you guys are great. Wanted to reiterate that fact.

  10. says

    Great tips, guys! I actually found one tip on my own, but which you mentioned, Chris, using downtime you might find around the day in unusual places. When I’m booked for an on-site job, I commute via train. I use those 40 or so minutes to pull out a sketchbook, and work out layouts, character concepts, or poses for work I have to complete, so that when I get back to the home studio, I take photos/scan those sketches… my penciling work is suddenly complete, and I’m immediately onto inking!

    • Chris Oatley says

      Yeah – I have a friend who basically made a short film on his Subway commute when he lived in NYC.

  11. Dominic Townend says

    Great show guys.

    Its amazing when and where we get idea’s, like Chris said in the shower, maybe a waterproof laptop is an invention that people have been longing for :D

    Carrying a scetchbook is somthing ive only recently started doing and it really is a great idea. Also If i get an idea while im out and about and its not possible to start drawing, i will quickly talk into my iPhones voice recorder so the idea is not lost.

    I definitely think the time people spend social networking as a whole in society today should be limited. Its so easy to get carried away wondering what he/she is doing. Setting by say 30-60 mins a day is plenty of time, rather than checking it constantly in small dribs and drabs, interfering with what we are doing.

    • says

      If you’re married, just warn your wife first. So she doesn’t think you’re turning into John Nash…!

      In all seriousness, I do sometimes sketch on the shower doors, just with my finger. It’s not permanent, but it helps me work out ideas and I take the solution with me to the drawing board.

  12. says

    I used to have a “DING” that went off every hour on the hour to remind me to get up and stretch. I should probably set that up again…

    • Figgs says

      That’s a very good idea. I get burnt out if I sit at the table for more than 3 hours or so! I use that time to get little chores done, like laundry or take care of the pets.

  13. says

    A friend of mine was talking about your podcast on her webcomic and I came over. I have to say that I really, really loved this episode and am going to be catching up on the other episodes now. I’ve recommended this episode to a lot of other creatives I know who have trouble with time management, because listening to it really helped me out and I didn’t know I needed to think about my time management at all!

  14. says

    Once again I’m listening to these podcasts and finding myself nodding in agreement with everything being said! A friend turned me on to PWP last week, and I’ve been listening to each podcast as I work on pages for my webcomic.

    The same friend (a fellow comicker) also told me about a time-organizing system she found called The Schedule. ( http://makecomicsforever.blogspot.com/2005/10/schedule.html ) A guy found a way to organize his Work Time and Break Time into alternating chunks, with the longest stretch of work in the morning and the longest break in the evening.

    It’s ideal for people like me who don’t have day jobs and can afford to organize their entire daily schedule around 6-8 hours of purely creative effort every single day, but the same principle applies regardless of how much of your day you’re able to devote to your project. I’ve found it much easier to do the bulk of my creative work early on, with shorter breaks, and then slowly do less work as the day goes on.

    It helps keep me energized and focused and helps keep me from burning out. Every time I think of something I’d rather be doing than working on my comic, I can just look at the clock and say “Only X more minutes until my next break!” and then bribe myself until the ‘shift’ is over.

  15. says

    Thanks Mike for the tip on bending Mail into telling me more about the emails I receive during a workday. I was unaware the Apple Mail program could do that, just because I never poked around in it! I saw “Rules” but never thought to learn what “Rules” did! Now I do!

  16. says

    I am finally, finally getting the time to listen to these podcasts! Apparently my time management is improving :)

    As a stay-at-home mom with a deployed husband, I had very little time to devote to creative outlets (which is why my website has been so neglected…real babies come first!).

    Here are 3 things I have implemented that have worked for me:

    1) The best way for me to stay away from the trap of social media during those precious, short nap times (remember, I’m a mom) was by using my own laziness against me! Very simple: You know that “Remember Me” check box when you log in to Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, etc? Uncheck it. And create a really long, obnoxious to type password. If you have to type that stupid thing in every time you want to check to see if anyone has commented on your latest post, you don’t log on as often.

    2) I downloaded Push Gmail for my iPhone. I get lots of emails per day, but most of them are not high priority. I’d spend—waste—hours just refreshing my inbox when I was waiting for a particular email. WIth this app, I get the subject line and first couple lines of text popping up on my phone. That way I’d be notified if I got the message I was waiting for. I’m sure that for some people, this might make things worse, especially if they get a high volume of interesting emails per day, but putting it on my phone was just one way to separate me from the internet on my computer.

    3) Whenever I open up Google Chrome, four tabs automatically open. One is Pandora…a gentle reminder that when the music starts playing, I should stop and think if there was some work I needed to get done before getting online. But the first one is a website I made for myself which guilts me into getting work done as soon as I get online (see link below). Plus, I am a tab-oholic. I usually have at least 10 tabs open at any given time (I have 11 right now). But I also try to delete the tabs when I can. This site’s tab name is “Make no excuses.” Every time I go to delete tabs, I see that reminder.

    Feel free to add this as a home page or ever-open tab. Every once in a while the “guiltivation” —I just made that up. guilt+motivation…Stupid?—will change to a different one.

    http://satisfidesign.com/motivation.html

    Good luck, all! May the time be with you!

  17. says

    Hey everyone! Just re-listening to these time-saving episodes, so awesome, they continue to help me!
    Thought I’d add another resource I have found since, great, inspirational and empowering talk about time/energy:

    http://the99percent.com/videos/7110/Tony-Schwartz-The-Myths-of-the-Overworked-Creative

    In general this website is chock-full of great inspiration/information for creative folks!

    Also, I can vouch for “Never Be Late Again” by Diana DeLonzor
    It was semi-painful to read for me, because it is forcing me to face the real reasons why I am always late and struggling with deadlines.
    If you are ready to face your tardiness and deadline issues, and are willing to do whatever it takes to break bad habits, I must say this book will put you on track.
    It is also a pretty easy/short read, mostly about determining what traits make you constantly late, and prescribing solutions for each type of late person. There’s even a section for “on-timers” on how to deal with us tardy folks! :)

  18. says

    The only time I can read right now is on my commute to and from work. This is usually about 30-45 minute trip. 15-20 minutes of it is walking to the train station. I have long since perfected the art of walking while reading (like Belle in Beauty and the Beast haha).

    But I also try to do life drawing on the train or while waiting at the station. Usually if I am sitting too close to someone or standing I default to reading. If I have a couple of seats to myself and can be more private, I starts to secretly sketch those around me.

    It’s not much of a time saver but every bit helps! Am currently researching my comic heavily so lots of reading going on, lots of library books getting lugged to and from work!

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