I used to come into my office and figured that if I put in enough working hours during the day, that I could go home feeling pretty happy with my efforts. It didn’t occur to me that how the day got parsed out played so heavily on my level of productivity. I would spend the first part of the day addressing the non-creative and more administrative side of things—returning emails, bookkeeping and returning phone calls. After reading a book called, Manage Your Day-to-Day, published by the wonderful people at Behance, I realized I had it all wrong.
Turns out I was using my most creative and concentrated time doing things that didn’t require the best my brain had to offer for the day. According to the book, I was engaging in what was referred to as “reactionary workflow,” whereby we react to the many things that pose as distractions (i.e. emails, texts, social media, phone calls) Reactive work should be followed by creative work, in order to maximize your creative potential.
Now when I come into the office, I spend almost an hour working on something creative. Whether it’s a client project (design work), or a personal project (that may involve creating fine art). Other times I’ll sit and watch 45 minutes of a lecture or a Skillshare class because those activities warm up the engines of my mind. That way I have more endurance throughout the day to stay stimulated. If I start the day working on a piece of art, lettering or creative pursuit, I’ll try and squeeze in another hour at the end of the day before I leave work, doing the same.
It’s a different approach than what I’ve done for years—having an endurance-a-thon with my computer screen to see how long I could sit there for hours on end, pushing pixels. It became a habit, until my eyes could hardly stand it. Never mind that progress and efficiency weren’t exactly being maximized by being my own slave driver.
Instead, having a plan for the day seems to work the best for me. Not letting client projects dictate a sense of ever present urgency, but rather setting up boundries for myself and my work to get what needs to get done. Those same boundries help to create an environment where I can feel creatively stimulated. Here’s a paragraph from the book that speaks to the same:
“Establish hard edges in your day.
Set a start time and finish time for your workday—even if you work alone. Dedicate different times of day to different activities: creative work, meetings, correspondence, administrative work, and so on. These hard edges keep tasks from taking longer than they need to and encroaching on your other important work. They also help you avoid workaholism, which is far less productive than it looks.”
These are a few of the paintings that I’ve managed to complete by putting in time at either end of my work day. If you’d like to see more paintings, please stop on by my Etsy store.