As creatives, we tend to burn the candle at both ends — working intensely on projects for days on end, then taking a break to recharge.
But even with the so-called “recharge,” many of us still feel overworked, stressed, burned out, and even depressed. Perhaps, it’s time for us to take a different approach to productivity.
This is why we compiled these 27 productivity tips for creatives, so you can save time, get more done, and ultimately live a life that makes you happy.
So let’s dive in!
24 Easy Productivity Tips for Creatives
So you’ve run amok on procrastination and are scrambling to get everything done before the end of the day? You feel like you’re spinning your wheels.. when you should focus on staying productive.
Fear not! We’ve put together a list of simple productivity tips to tame your creative mind and help you continue creating even when there’s no time or energy to focus on the things that truly matter most to you.
Make planning a habit.
If you want to be successful in any given area of your life, such as your career, relationships, or finances, you need to be intentional. And the first step toward being intentional is by making plans.
The best way to ensure you don’t miss anything important is by setting aside some dedicated quiet time each day to plan. Personally, I love to plan my day the night before so that I have all the information I’ll need when I wake up.
You may also plan for weeks, months, or even years ahead to know what you need to do next. The key here is to set yourself up for success by having a clear vision of where you want to go and how you want to get there.
In other words, when you plan and stick with it, you’ll be able to achieve your goals without getting off track, losing focus, and wasting precious time.
The right goal will keep you motivated and focused throughout your entire journey. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, earn more money, or just learn something new, having a specific goal in mind will not only give you the motivation you need to stay on track but also help you avoid distractions along the way.
When you have a goal in mind, even as a creative person, you’ll find yourself naturally gravitating towards activities that support achieving that goal.
For example, if you want to earn more revenue from your creative work, you might start looking into ways to increase your sales. Or, if you want to spend less time working and more time taking care of yourself, you might look into ways to get into a healthier lifestyle.
Read this article so you would have a better idea about the importance of goals.
(Do you often struggle with goals? You might want to read this, too).
Schedule your tasks.
When you have a lot to do and not enough time to do them all, it’s essential to be organized and get things done on time. Because if you’re constantly running around doing last-minute errands, you won’t have much time left over to actually get immersed in whatever project you’re currently working on.
To ensure that you’re always prepared, schedule your tasks ahead of time, and be sure to block out creative time during which you can focus on your projects. This way, you’ll never forget an important task or deadline and still be able to complete other necessary tasks.
Distractions are everywhere! If you’re like me, you probably have trouble focusing on one thing at a time because you’re easily distracted. That’s why it’s essential to create boundaries for yourself.
For instance, if you’re writing a blog post, you could choose to write it in a quiet room away from your phone, computer, and family members. Or maybe you could take turns sharing responsibilities among friends so that everyone has their own space to focus on their respective tasks.
Whatever works for you, as long as you’re creating boundaries, you’ll be able to prevent other people or circumstances from pulling you in different directions.
Once you’ve created those boundaries, you’ll feel more relaxed and free to fully immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing.
Block time for your work
It’s hard to keep a sane schedule when you’re all over the place, which is why I recommend blocking out periods of time for your work.
If you’re working on a project, try setting aside a few hours every day where you don’t check email, text messages, or social media. Instead, dedicate that time solely to completing your project.
You may even want to leave a few notes on your desk to remind you to stop checking your notifications and start working. After all, you’ll have time to catch up once you finish what you were supposed to accomplish.
This tip is especially helpful if you tend to procrastinate by surfing the web while you should be working. By scheduling time for your work, you’ll force yourself to stick to your plan and avoid getting sidetracked.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Missed a few deadlines? Don’t beat yourself up over it. It happens to the best of us.
And let me tell you: even the most productivity-minded individuals will inevitably slip up now and then. So instead of allowing these slips to ruin your whole week, just pick yourself up and move forward. Besides, there will be plenty of opportunities to make amends later on.
So next time you find yourself struggling with being productive, remember this: mistakes happen, but they don’t define who we are. We learn from them and grow stronger as a result.
So go ahead, do your best and forgive yourself when you fall short. You deserve it.
Manage your energy better.
I’m not sure if you noticed it already, but there are certain times in a day when you feel you could get a ton of tasks done – and there sure are times when you feel like you’d rather just sit down and relax.
For example, I love to work on all my creative tasks early in the morning because that’s when I feel most smart and energetic! In fact, I could write non-stop from 2 am until 6 am!
But after that window, I often feel like I couldn’t write anymore – much less tackle a new creative task, such as doing some graphic design or something similar.
If that sounds like you, then don’t fret! It’s a normal thing!
The thing is, there are certain times in a day when we’re brimming with energy. You just have to know which times in the day you can get more done and which times you need to take breaks, especially when you’re feeling tired.
Doing several things at once is a bad habit. It increases stress and makes you feel as if you are getting more done when in reality, you are not.
Because here’s the thing: when you work on two or more tasks simultaneously, you will incur switch costs (or switching costs). Switch costs are the extra time it takes to transition from one task to another.
When you consider switch costs, the minutes wasted over the constant switching will add up, and your productivity drops substantially as a result.
In other words, try focusing on one task to avoid wasting time on switch costs and maximize your productivity.
Try to build sustainable habits.
Building new habits is hard, so seek ways to make good practices sustainable.
For example, if you want to eat healthier, start small and see how far you can push yourself. If you want to exercise regularly, start with 10 minutes daily and gradually increase. The same goes for any goal you set. Start small and slowly build momentum.
You’ll be surprised how quickly you can reach your goals if you start building habits that you can sustain long-term.
Overcoming perfectionism is about recognizing that nobody is perfect, that mistakes and failures are natural, and that a willingness to accept and learn from mistakes is essential if you want to improve.
Though perfectionists are often very successful in their pursuits — often to a fault — they are almost always unhappy with their results. Because, after all, perfection is virtually non-existent.
If you think you need some work on overcoming your perfectionism, then you might want to read this.
Deal with the most unpleasant tasks right away.
Big projects can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s critical to take on the most unpleasant tasks first to get them out of the way. This frees up mental space to deal with the rest of your workload.
If you find yourself procrastinating on these tasks, then you need to do something different.
Take an honest look at what’s causing you to procrastinate. Is it fear? Are you afraid of making a mistake? Do you think you won’t be able to finish the project? Whatever it is, figure out what’s causing you to delay and address those issues head-on.
Remember your why.
There’s a reason why you do what you do. You must keep that reason front and center because what better way to motivate yourself to get things done than to be reminded why you’re doing them?
So whenever you don’t feel like doing anything, there’s only one thing to do. Remind yourself why you started the project in the first place. Maybe it was to help someone, make money, or make something you love. Knowing why you are doing something can help you to complete it faster.
Take regular and meaningful breaks.
You don’t want to burn out, but you also don’t want to get behind.
And I get it: it’s hard to be efficient even if you’re running at full speed, so give your body the break it needs. But don’t settle with just any break. Be strategic about it.
We all know how important it is to take breaks between deep work. But have you ever thought about taking days, even weeks’ worth of breaks?
That’s right. That 2-week trip to Hawaii will do you much better than a 5-minute walk around the block.
But like I said earlier, you must be strategic about your breaks, regardless of how long (or short) they are.
How, you ask?
Simple. Plan ahead.
Every year, make it a habit to schedule weeks’ worth of vacation time into your calendar – and don’t even think about moving them to another date just to give more time for your work. You need these breaks so you can manage your time effectively.
This topic has been covered extensively by productivity experts, so I recommend you check out this book by Dave Crenshaw.
Take advantage of tools that make you more productive.
Productivity for creative people isn’t limited to just planners and a couple of notebooks. With the help of technology, you and I can now keep ourselves more productive and accountable with the use of software, apps, and even shortcuts!
For example, here are some ways you can use technology to become more productive as a creative:
Use a task management app to organize your ideas, projects, and deadlines.
A task management app (or a project management tool) can help boost your productivity levels. Not only that, it can help you stay organized and focused throughout the day.
Most project management tools allow you to create lists, set due dates and reminders, and track progress. Some great examples include Plutio, Trello, ClickUp, Asana, and Todoist. (Currently, my favorite productivity tool is Asana).
I swear by these tools. They can save hours per day if you know how to use them well!
Let me be honest with you, though. There is a bit of a learning curve when using these apps. So, I’d suggest starting small and slowly building up your knowledge base.
Be realistic about what you can do in a day.
It’s always tempting to try to do everything on your long to-do list and call it a day, but think about it: when was the last time you actually accomplished anything like it?
I’m guessing not so much because the truth is that you can only do so much in a day.
We’re all humans, and we only have very limited energy and mental capacity. In fact, a study says that we can only work productively for five hours — max! (So what have we been doing all these years – when we’re conditioned to work from 8 to 5?)
So, if you’re having difficulty being realistic with your day, take your to-do list and pick the top 3 things you need to get done first. Do the most important one first, then move on to the next one.
Once you’ve completed all these three things, you can choose to work on a few more or, better yet, take the rest of the day doing minor stuff. You deserve that rest, after all.
Keep track of your progress.
If you’re trying to improve your productivity, you should also keep track of your progress. This way, you can see where you stand and what areas you need to improve upon.
You can keep a journal or notebook handy, write down what you accomplished each day, and compare them against your goals. Or you may use free note-taking apps like Google Keep or Notion to jot down notes and ideas.
The point is: don’t forget to document your accomplishments, so you will have something to look back on later, especially when you don’t feel like you’re making any progress.
Get rid of distractions.
There are many different kinds of distractions out there, including social media, email, phone calls, etc., but for this tip, digital and non-digital distractions count.
For instance, if you’re constantly checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., you’re wasting your time. You could be spending that time accomplishing something else instead.
You’ll be surprised at how much you could get done if you could focus on your work for a couple of hours instead of working for a full day but still being constantly distracted by so many things. (You’ll understand what I mean after you read this book.)
So, how do you get rid of distractions?
Well, you can either minimize them or remove them entirely.
For example, you can turn off notifications on your smartphone or laptop. If you’re serious about getting rid of distractions, you can even go as far as locking yourself in your office for the next two hours so that people won’t get a chance to “bother” you while you’re working. You’ll be surprised at how amazing ideas come when you’re completely focused!
Don’t forget about taking care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself is just as important as being productive. Eating the right food, exercising, and getting enough sleep daily can contribute to your overall well-being.
Because let’s be honest: if you’re not feeling well, it’ll be tough to get anything done. So make sure to take care of yourself first and foremost!
Listen to music to boost your productivity.
Listening to music can help you get into a flow state more quickly, boosting your productivity.
If you’re finding it hard to focus on your work, try putting on some instrumental music or background noise to help you focus. You might be surprised at how well it works!
Organize your workspace.
An organized workspace can help you feel more productive and in control. Having a specific place for everything (and making sure everything is in its place) can help you focus on your work and get things done more efficiently.
Plus, it’ll save you time in the long run because you won’t have to search for things when you need them.
If your desk is in a constant state of disarray, take some time to declutter and organize it. You’ll be glad you did!
Find ways to delegate other tasks.
There are only so many hours a day, and you can’t do everything yourself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all that you have to do, see if there are any tasks you can delegate to someone else. This could be hiring a Virtual Assistant to handle some of your admin work or asking a friend to help you with a project.
Don’t try to do everything yourself – delegate where you can and focus on the most critical tasks at hand.
Know when to ask for help
There’s no shame in admitting that you need help.
If you’re stuck on a task or can’t seem to get started, reach out to someone who can give you a hand. Whether it’s a colleague, friend, or family member, asking for help is a smart way to get unstuck and boost your productivity.
Break big projects into smaller pieces.
Big projects can be daunting and overwhelming. If you’re finding it hard to get started on one, break it down into smaller tasks that you can complete more easily. This will make the project seem less daunting and will help you stay on track. Plus, you’ll be able to cross items off your to-do list more quickly, which can help you feel more productive.
Sleep on it.
If you’re stuck on a problem and can’t seem to find a solution, sometimes the best thing you can do is sleep on it.
Oftentimes, the answer will come to you when you least expect it. So if you’re feeling stuck, take a break and return to it tomorrow with fresh eyes. You might be surprised at what you come up with!
The Bottom Line: Productivity Tips for Creatives
There you have it – 24 productivity tips for creatives. By implementing even a few of these tips, you can save time, get more done, and ultimately live a happier life. So what are you waiting for?
Start putting these tips into practice today!
P.S. If you’re looking for more tips or topics about productivity for creative people, be sure to check out our blog posts on the subject. Or better yet, subscribe to our newsletter and get productivity advice (and more!) delivered straight to your inbox!
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