Two weeks ago I wrote about the importance of carving out time in your busy schedule for pure creativity. Today I’m tackling the flip side — how to ensure you continue to do those critical business-and-life tasks when all you want to do is create.
As the Voice of Golden Eagle told me, we need to create when the tide is in, and attend to administrative tasks when the tide is out. But here’s my dilemma: my creative tide has been in for nearly a month now, and by obeying my muse and creating I’ve been neglecting some of the very tasks necessary to allow me to continue to professionally create.
Below are three steps that you as a creative — writer, songwriter, visual artist, interpretive mime — can follow to ensure the right balance in creativity and administrative tasks. These work if you’re a full time creative or someone carving out a few precious minutes around other work.
- Set aside daily administrative time. If you know that every day at 3 pm you’ve set aside time to write that query letter, send that invoice, or balance that ledger, your muse’s voice will have a harder time diverting you from those tasks. You should choose a time when you know your daily creative tide is low. It’s no surprise I chose 3 pm in the example above, because that is my creative low point; it’s when Robert Goulet appears and messes with my stuff.
- Set reasonable goals. I have on my desk my administrative “pile,” filled with bills, business cards of people I need to follow up with, and other unpleasant things I don’t like to look at. I can tackle that pile if I tell myself that Monday I will follow up with two of those business cards, and Tuesday I will pay two of those bills. Breaking up the tasks into manageable bits makes it easier for me to start. Plus, if I’m done faster than the time allotted and I’m now in an administrative flow, I may respond to two more business contacts or pay two more bills, and bask in the glow of überproductivity.
- Acknowledge victories. Let’s say I’ve dedicated myself to sending out two work queries a day. If one of them hits and I get some work, I need to stop and thank the me-in-the-past that took the time to research that proposal and write that letter. Doing so will make it easier for me to sit down and research and write another query the next day.
The key to any success in life is balance. I’d love to hear how you strike a balance in your own creative pursuits.