Tips for Creatives for Staying on Task

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The art of staying on task is far from easy for me seeing that I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to anything creative. If you are like me then you struggle to stay focused and will take all the advice you can get. Like most creatives, I have so many passions and interests and feel the insistent need to leave no creative rock unturned. If this is you I will leave you with some advice that will hopefully help you “get shit done” as much as it has helped me.

TO-DO LISTS

It may seem like a no-brainer but you would be surprised how many people don’t use this simplest of techniques for staying on task. To-do lists are a fantastic tool for many reasons.

• keep you organized

• allows you to analyze and big-picture everything on your plate

• scratching something off your to-do list just feels so damn good

• if you have anyone that you report to (boss, clients etc.) it serves as the perfect rundown of all you have accomplished. That way when you step up to the podium you won’t undersell yourself or your work.

PRIORITIZE

Again it sounds simple but, if your mind is as all over the place as mine is, then this can prove to be quite difficult. This tool can go hand-in-hand with the to-do list. It’s all about preference but I personally like to conquer the largest things on my list first. Anything with a deadline or that has already been paid for is automatically on the top of my list. Finishing before your deadline is not a bad thing! It allows you more time pull back and review your work from a metaphorical distance and make changes if necessary. Also that guilt you may often feel when working on personal work before paid projects will be gone forever.

ONLY WORK WHEN YOU ARE FEELING INSPIRED

Inspiration comes at any time of day and comes in all shapes and sizes. When I get inspired I feel this rush of adrenaline and excitement almost as if I am crushing (que Mandy Moore song) on my very own idea. Now it’s time to stalk that idea like an ex on Facebook. Pursue that feeling and find out everything you possibly can about it. Own that excitement you feel and let it drive you. Don’t step away from fear of being burnt out, because if you do, you may never find that spark that you and that idea once shared. Ride it til’ the wheels fall off. After all, when you feel inspired, the work you are doing likely doesn’t feel like work at all. It’s when you try and force the inspiration or force the work that you find yourself beating your head against your MacBook Pro. Only working when you feel inspired helps you accomplish things with a passion and speed that is unmatched and also helps with stepping away in order to contribute to my next tip on the list…

WORK/LIFE BALANCE

I can honestly say that I step away from my desk most days feeling like I still have so much more I want to get done. Of course, don’t step away if you don’t have to, BUT if you're like me and are in a relationship or if you have a family, then you know spending all your hours working is not an option. Now with that said let’s get one thing straight. You are a creative person. The people/person you are with most likely knew what they signed up for. Hopefully, they are understanding of those moments that you’re feet are glued to your studio floor leaving you incapable of stepping away. If they can’t seem to relate at first then just explain to them what I have explained to you about feeling inspired. Hope that helps.

CREATE YOUR OWN TECHNIQUES

You are creative right? Odds are nobody knows you or your workflow as well as you so why not think of creative ways to stay on task and getting things accomplished. Leave your tricks or fresh ideas in the comments. We would love to hear them.

Alex Cottles

The Routine Creative, Richmond, Virginia, 23220