Time Management for Artists: 12 Easy Ways to Achieve More in Less Time

Written by Domantas Vanagas

November 9, 2021

Carving out time to work on creative endeavors can be hard; you may find there is simply not enough time in the day. Artists face distinct challenges when it comes to managing their time- you can’t always predict when creativity strikes, making scheduling difficult. Want to get the most out of your day and get more accomplished? There are clever ways to manage your time, see progress, and increase productivity. 

Try these 12 time management tips for artists today:

1. Make Time to Plan 

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Make time to draft a list of what you want to accomplish this day, this week, and long term. Start every day and project by compiling a list of what you need to get done.  In terms of effective planning and list-making, some tips include:

  • Choose a calendar or planner that suits your distinct lifestyle and preferences best. Consider a basic journal if that makes more sense for you.
  • Set aside time to plan each morning and, also each week. Use this time to make a list and revisit your daily calendar. Basically, plan to plan.
  • Try to be flexible and allow for a little wiggle-room on your calendar. This can be important especially for artists, who may be prone to unexpected waves of inspiration.
  • Look at and assess last week’s calendar and plan for insight, as well as to identify any tasks that did not get accomplished. Move these on to the current week’s agenda.
  • It can be helpful to give everything a time slot with an estimated time that it will take to achieve. Even things like lunch breaks and workouts belong on your daily planner or calendar.
  • When you set goals for the day, make sure that they are measurable, whether they are long or short term. More on goal setting later!
  • Do you engage in mind-dumping at the end of the day? This can be a useful part of getting rid of information and loose-ends that are in your head that could be impeding your creative flow. Use a blank journal, sketchbook, or notepad to ‘dump’ the thoughts, ideas, and concerns that you are ruminating about. It can be very freeing.

The simple art of making a list can improve productivity and motivate anybody to get more done.

2. Stick to a Schedule 

Sometimes, full-time artists march to the beat of their own drum. That might mean that they have unconventional or unpredictable schedules. The best time management tip for artists or anyone is to set yourself a schedule and stick to it.

Maintain a calendar or a day planner and commit to getting things done by putting them on your schedule. From laundry to calling a friend, putting something on your calendar can help to make you accountable. It also ensures that you have time for all that you want and need to do.

3. Learn to Prioritize 

Stress and worry can impede creativity; want to reduce stress? Learn to prioritize all the things and tasks that you need to achieve. Be honest: which items on your to-do list are truly important? Only you can identify real priorities when it comes to your art and your life.

Prioritizing can get faster results and improve productivity over time with consistency.  Getting distracted by less-important or lower-priority tasks and activities decreases productivity and curbs artistic accomplishments.

4. Keep Track of Goals 

Now that you have your priorities straight, it is time to set some goals. It is particularly important for artists to outline goals since much of their work is non-tangible and creative in nature.

The important thing to remember when goal setting is that your objectives are S.M.A.R.T. What does S.M.A.R.T. stand for?

  • Specific   
  • Measurable   
  • Attainable   
  • Realistic    
  • Timely

SMART goals keep artists motivated because they offer a gauge for measuring progress and success. Being specific and timely contribution to the sense of urgency in achieving tasks toward primary goals.

When a goal is measurable, you are able to see and identify progress which can help inspire toward continued progress. Setting a SMART goal ensures that it is feasible. 

5. Handle Tasks in Batches 

Depending on the type of art that you do, working in batches may make sense. This allows you to have several concurrent projects that finish up around the same time, usually resulting in increased productivity. If your craft is not one that allows for batch work, consider implementing this tactic in non-art-related chores when possible.

For instance, wait until the end of the day and reply to all your emails at one time; meal plan and prepare food ahead in batches to save time during your workday. 

Tips for success and other examples of batch work include these:

  • Set aside one specific day for all errands, like mailing or groceries
  • Check emails only twice daily, in the morning and at the end of the workday
  • Dedicate a time and day to packaging and shipping parcels, if applicable
  • Pre-schedule your social media posts to automatically run per your schedule

Try to clump together like tasks and whip them out at the same time. This efficient practice provides a sense of achievement and a feeling of control over your time management that is invigorating!

6. Stay Organized 

Visual clutter can make it hard to focus and stay on task- problematic for artists! Staying organized and de-cluttering your workspace can have a positive impact on productivity.

If you work from home, you may need to dedicate a space for your artistic endeavors that are off-limits to others, which helps curb clutter and overall distractions when creating.

The importance of organization when it comes to time management cannot be overstated. When you are organized and materials are within reach, you will get more done throughout the day.

7. Find your Flow 

It may be more feasible to identify your times of the greatest creative flow and block them off for artistic pursuits. Workaround these times, scheduling in time for other tasks both related to your craft and unrelated.

When you are in the flow, this is when interruptions and distractions can be the most impactful. Put the same priority on these periods of artistic work as you would a conference call or meeting with clients.

8. Stay on Task 

It may seem that multi-tasking is key in trying to manage time, but multitasking can make overall chores take 25% longer! Don’t allow yourself to quickly shift gears to check your inbox or visit social media pages.

Do one thing at a time until it is done. It’s that simple.

9. Automate What you Can 

In today’s culture of automation, there is no reason to waste time writing checks, paying bills, or attempting to remember a commitment.

First, utilize bill-pay services to save time with busy work. Second, set reminders on your laptop, phone, or smartwatch to know when it is time to change tasks or meet a colleague. Use these time management principles every day to build out a habit.

It can help to give tasks and chores a time frame and to set an alarm indicating when the time has passed. It helps to motivate and move you faster when you know the clock is ticking! 

10. Get Rid of Distractions 

Do you have hidden distractions that tend to suck up time during the day? Most artists, and people, do! Especially if you have ADHD on top of that…

Identify your time-suckers and avoid them.

For many, social media can be a rabbit hole that eats up time throughout the day. Instead of visiting intermittently and wasting valuable time, schedule and block a period of time for checking social media pages when preparing your daily list and calendar.

If you work from home, perhaps the noise is a distraction for you. Invest in sound-canceling earphones and wear them!

Not sure if you are disciplined enough to get rid of your online distractions? Try an app that will monitor your computer usage and keep you on task by timing you when you surf the web or take breaks from work.

11. Simply Say ‘No’ 

Do not fall into the trap of agreeing to whatever others propose; just simply say ‘no’. Furthermore, if outside commitments impede on your creative process, learn how to gracefully bow-out without guilt or regret.

After all, choosing which events and obligations to accept is part of prioritizing and planning. Do not make the mistake of stretching yourself too thin which demonstrates poor time management.

12. Wrap Things Up 

Plan to stop working a few minutes before quitting time to wrap up your day. This also brings a sense of closure and accomplishment at the end of the day, which may inspire you for the following one.

It also provides you with the opportunity to purge your brain of work-related loose ends that can distract you from truly enjoying time spent doing other things.

Give yourself a half-hour or however long makes sense for you- to send out emails to producers or colleagues, write out a plan for the next day, and physically clean up the work or art space. A tidy workspace when coming to work set the tone for the entire day.

Are you an artist who is looking for more time to create? Use these time management tips to carve out more time each day and to see more progress at the end of the week.

Remember: small changes can make huge differences over time.

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