By Gaby Doman
If I had my way, I would banish time management from my creative tasks. Sure, meticulous planning and tracking can be useful for some tasks, but I think it’s nigh on impossible to plan creative bursts. I’d always rather twiddle my pen between my fingers and muse over every word choice.
That said, my background working in agencies and newspapers has helped me fine-tune my creative process to the point where I am able to cut back on said pen twiddling and successfully meet deadlines. You still won’t catch me implementing the Pomodoro Technique into my working day, though.
It’s a useful skill to be able to “switch on” creative energy, but in practise creativity can be unwilling to cooperate with plans. The libertarian in me will always regard proponents of time management apps as philistines and will continue to fiercely protect my procrastination time.
In a time where busyness is fetishized and seen as synonymous with higher status, procrastination is the perceived enemy that stands between us and our loftiest ambitions.
But I believe procrastination is a valuable tool. It doesn’t have to mean putting things off for so long everything gets pushed to the last possible moment. It can mean simply buying yourself some headspace. How many of your best ideas have come in the shower, during a walk or right before you drift off to sleep? Like an unruly toddler, creativity doesn’t respond well to time management.
My most productive days are spent flitting between menial tasks, such as inputting data into spreadsheets, and something more creative, such as brainstorming new content, writing or editing. When my creativity has been exhausted I find it comforting to do something that requires less mental energy. Likewise, when my patience runs out with repetitive tasks, I like to have a creative outlet. With a balance of the two, I can choose the task that best suits my state of mind at any given time. Like a wise lecturer once told me: work smart, not hard.
I consider this to be active procrastination — or constructive procrastination, perhaps? A buzzword makes it seem so much more marketable.
Even when there’s no other task to divert my attention, I still engage in active procrastination.
At FunkyCorp we create a lot of travel content, so active procrastination might include reading similar articles to the ones I’m writing, taking a look at the latest news and blogs about Japan, brushing up on style guide updates or learning a few Google Sheets tricks. Even a little passive procrastination in the form of a social media break can act as mental sorbet, too.
Are time management apps your jam, or do you prefer to let your spells of creativity dictate your schedule? Tell us how you manage your deadlines and we’ll share our favorites.