Creative Time Management

by Barbara Martin

in How to Tips

Way back in January, I decided to try out a new-to-me technique: selecting a theme word for the new year. So now it’s time for the first quarterly report.  According to my old MBA training, anyway.

 Have you tried doing this theme word thing? What word(s) did you pick? Or did the theme pick you?

I settled into my year of “Discovery” and never looked back. Until now, that is.

To say it’s been a while or to mention there may have been a lull between posts, is an understatement — to put it kindly. Where on earth did the time go?

Part of the time got lost in the long nights of winter, the Pacific Northwest being known for its rarely-sunny winter season not to mention the latitude-related lack of daylight hours. Sleeping, snuggling, and hunkering down are natural for me, year in and year out, during this quiet, dark, cold season.

While waiting for spring,  besides sleeping, I spent time patiently absorbing and observing and experimenting and learning: test driving and tire kicking and trying on for size. Pondering. Wondering. Second-guessing.

Trying out new methods and techniques, adjusting and re-adjusting in search of “what works for me” …and what doesn’t. What might work for you, what might not.
You could even say that during this time I rediscovered some of the lessons we already know but tend to forget — or would prefer to forget. Maybe you already know these lessons by heart?

  • Like the hard lesson that there are no shortcuts. Or maybe there are shortcuts, but they are not worth the taking. Or that shortcuts take longer in the long run. (headsmack) Except for when they work and then it is glorious! (evil grin of temptation)


  • Like how beating your head against a wall hurts your head more than it hurts the wall. (Not sure how that works if the wall is a paper screen or hmmm what about if it’s a tent?) Jury is still out on this, in certain situations.


  • And like the one about how doing the same things will keep getting the same results you always got. Unless you  just haven‘t stuck with it and tried hard enough yet? (another headsmack and a zippy short circuit)


  • Like the way to find a workaround when you are stuck on something: Get out of your head, take action, try stuff and see what happens!  This one, I am pretty confident in saying, is a keeper. For me, and for you.

Some of the time over these three months plus, I practiced. Practiced new skills, new approaches, looking for new perspectives. I eventually remembered that a practice is exactly that: practicing how to do something. With “do” being the operative word. Heck, I’m even doing the tai chi thing.  (Stop laughing!)

Sometimes, with practice, we get better at it. Usually. And sometimes it’s time to cut bait.

I’ve discovered (and  rediscovered) some things I love to do, and re-prioritized some of what I do, and stopped doing other things. Time management would be too grand a word for what I have attempted, but the results are nonetheless fascinating. 

For example, this is my first post of the new year.  Remarkable, I know! (sheepish snort)

So tell me, do you have issues with time? setting priorities? staying on track? Do you dash after the next shiny thing and the next and the next after that? OOOOOOOOh, me, too!

Many creative people do. It would be surprising if you didn’t. So don’t feel bad about it!

Awareness is a good first step to finding a solution to these kinds of stumbling blocks. Next is finding a replacement approach, a positive one.

Have you found helpful ways to organize your days? Your weeks? Your months? Your years? Does time run away with you? Do you ever feel a need to organize your time? Organize your workflow? Organize your thinking?

More specifically: Do you know what you have been doing for the last three months?  Do you know what you will be doing in the grander scheme of the next three months, the next six months, the next year or more?

If you don’t know, you are not alone, and it‘s worth taking a little time to figure out.  I’d be glad to help you explore and discover that.  I’ll be writing about it here, and meanwhile keep on discovering and sharing what I learn as I go.

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Patty K April 14, 2010 at 8:55 am

Thank you for a very timely reminder! I’ve been doing the yearly word theme for a few years now and your post reminded me to check in with myself. My word this year was “purpose” – and I’m really not sure if it picked me or I picked it. Maybe a little of both. For me, awareness and paying attention have paid off in spades. I started journalling about 6 months ago and settled into a daily practice early this year. It’s made a world of difference to me. It doesn’t slow time down – is it *really* already April? But it does show me what I did while it was passing.

Megan April 14, 2010 at 1:40 pm

My theme kind of backfired on me. I made it shavasana, because I was so overworked last year. It kind of went from shavasana to indolence, though :)

I just had a birthday so I am trying to pick a theme for this birth year to undo my 2010 theme, since I seem to be using this one as an excuse (way too much napping).

Matt Blair April 17, 2010 at 10:35 am

Hi Barbara! Nice to see you posting again.

I’ve spent the last two months working on and off on a blog post that explains what I’ve been doing the last three months. Most of my work consists of going in and updating the dates in the draft, from “for the last month” to “for the last two months” etc.

Your last bullet point is pretty close to what my first new blog post will be about: what I’ve learned from doing, rather than thinking about and analyzing the process of doing. And I’ve also relearned this lesson in the first quarter of 2010: there are plans, and there is life, and they don’t necessarily get along with each other.

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