With all the time management tools available to us, losing track of time means we must be bad, disorganized people, right? Wrong. It’s a square peg/round hole situation, when you get right down to it. You might just be a right-brained person in a left-brained world.
The traditional approaches to time management are all geared toward list making, time blocking, and detail wrangling. They have a set ’em up and knock ’em down attitude about all the tasks we need to pack into our day, but that type of linear thinking will leave us right-brained folk spinning. Written plans and to do lists may be well-intentioned starting points for us, but will often be ignored once we get sidetracked by a juicy distraction.
Right-brained people need a few unconventional tips for staying on task and on time, so if time management is a challenge for you, consider this:
1. Recognizing yourself as a right-brained person is the first step to finding a time management technique to suit your style.
Right-brained people tend to have an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” attitude, so proper planning is very important to make sure productivity doesn’t suffer. Our creative bend responds strongly to visual cues, and our attention may not be easily coaxed to stay trained on a tightly packed schedule. If you’re right-brained, you may find even the idea of strict time limitations stress-inducing and stifling your creative flow.
2. We’re hyper-susceptible to time sucks, so don’t exhaust yourself fighting them!
The nature of a right-brained person causes us to dig deep into whatever project we’re focused on. That means we can easily fall down the rabbit hole and lose track of time. Using an online tool like Freshbooks or just a pen and paper – whatever method you can commit to using consistently – track all your activities for at least a week. Reviewing exactly how you spend each day will shed light on any patterns such as which time of day you’re most likely to get off task, and then allows you to devise a plan to avoid it. For instance, if your activity log reveals that you tend to spend twice as long completing online tasks as you should (most likely because of all the readily-clickable distractions), then try scheduling your online tasks for later in the day, so you don’t get behind schedule before your day even starts.
3. Schedule for how long it really takes, not how long you think it should take.
If you know you’re going to need more time, take it! Traditional time-blocking techniques will always leave you feeling frustrated, unproductive, and stressed, so try to loosely block out your day into the priority activities. Note at which times your concentration is most keenly focused, and dedicate those periods to the day’s more mentally demanding jobs. Be sure to include breaks every 60-90 minutes to give your brain a break from your intense effort.
4. Sometimes the best way to manage time is to ignore it.
Hide your clocks and keep track of time using the stopwatch app on your smartphone or use the TimeTimer. This way you can stay on schedule without stressing because you’re hyper-aware of the time. Focusing in shorter bursts and allowing mental recovery time in between will increase your productivity and help stave off the stir-craziness that can come from trying to accomplish too much in one sitting.
5. If you need to unplug to get your work done, then do it!
Don’t feel guilty about letting people know that you aren’t going to be available 24/7. You are allowed to block out tech-free time, and power down from all your myriad devices. Set a time to check email in the morning and again in the afternoon and when you’re done, get off the grid. You’ll get used to working without the constant interference of incoming pings and people will get used to hearing from you at certain times of the day.
As with every other system, organizing your time well just takes commitment and consistency. If you’re feeling stuck, contact us about our time management package. If you’re already excelling, what tricks have you found to help a creative mind stay on track?