Being a creative entrepreneur requires wearing a lot of hats. You’re going to have to learn how to swap hats efficiently as a chorus of demands clamor for your attention each day. How can you learn to swap efficiently without losing your head?
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It’s true that when you decide to run your own business you get to be CEO, Creative Director, and janitor. For all the fun, excitement, and freedom that goes along with having your own business, so do the responsibilities, demands, and task lists. A friend of mine used to joke that the best part of running his business was that he got to choose which eighty hours he wanted to work each week.
It doesn’t have to be as bad as all that, but it’s never easy. And there are a wide variety of tasks and efforts you’ll have to make. And as I described in the previous episode, none of us are cut out for all of them. So we have to take the fun and engaging parts along with the less pleasant tasks. Entrepreneurs do adapt to this, eventually, or fail trying.
But there are some things you can do to make the life of being a creative entrepreneur easier. First of all, don’t believe that you’re somehow an amazing multi-tasker. Some people are better than others at shifting their attention, but even the best at this can’t do it and also engage in deep work. And the creative process is certainly deep work. That means you’re going to have to add one more important task to your weekly task list. The task of planning your work week. In fact, I’d recommend that you create a template for a routine weekly schedule, carving out chunks of time for all of the various aspects of running your business.
Give yourself a handful of hours for marketing, another for client management and communication, a few for managing your finances, and as well as time for scheduling and planning itself. Then try to arrange your calendar puzzle so that you can group up some of the administrative aspects together, leaving open larger blocks of time for your primary creative work.
Maybe Mondays are for scheduling, communications, and marketing, and Tuesdays and Thursdays are set aside for project work. Or maybe you take an hour and a half each morning, for communication and marketing, as well as an hour at the end of the day, but then turn off your email and put your phone on airplane mode for the rest of the time for focused work.
And here’s a tip, when you’re planning out your week, give careful attention to the tasks you’d rather avoid. And anchor those times. Prioritize them, make them the first thing you do on that day. That way you can get them out of the way, no procrastinating. Maybe that is doing an hour’s worth of marketing, or managing your finances. Prioritizing the more toilsome aspects will ensure that you don’t neglect them, and once they’re done you’ll have a clear field to get back to the studio, or the screen—the best part of your day. That time will be even more productive knowing that the less pleasant part is done. Certainly better than trying to focus on creativity knowing you have that unpleasant work looming over your head.
Managing time is going to be a challenge for every creative entrepreneur. It’s too easy for us to go “head’s down” diving into the creative process, and ignore the business aspects of our practices. Since creative production is so engaging it’s all too easy to let that occupy us and ignore the more toilsome tasks. And so, as a creative entrepreneur you’re going to need to be a deliberate and disciplined manager—of yourself. Hold yourself accountable for every aspect of your extended job description. You can’t let yourself off the hook.
In our first dozen episodes of 5 Minutes on Creative Entrepreneurship we’ve just skimmed the surface of the first 4 of the “Ms” of Money, Minutes, Marketing, and Management. In our next few episodes we’re going to talk about the fifth M, Motivation. And we need a lot of encouragement on the path of creative entrepreneurship.
So until next week: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.