Time, for Creatives

Time, for Creatives

Time, for creatives, is an eternal challenge. There are so many things to do – and all of them take time!

No matter what our art, it takes time to make/perform/produce. By now everyone’s probably heard about the apocryphal “10,000 hours to mastery.”The way that’s normally understood may not be exactly what Malcolm Gladwell meant, but it’s close enough for truthiness. He also said “practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Totally agree on that last bit, but once you’re good you’ve no business stopping, or your skills will recede.

Also, practice aside, most arts take time to produce. Books take a significant amount of time to write, much less review, revise (as many times as needed), and finally proofread, before we even have a product to then package, market, and sell. Visual artwork takes time to create, whether one paints with oils or pixels – or uses some entirely other medium. Musical, dramatic, and other productions take time to prepare, coordinate with the rest of the team, and produce.

It all takes time. And that’s just the “preparing and making” part.

Against a dark blue background with more than a dozen suspended pocket watches of various designs, the words say, “No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. Warren Buffet.”
See Credits below.

Time, for Creatives who run Small Businesses

Some creative people have business managers. Some have agents and publishers, roadies, stage managers, distributors, and/or retail outlet directors. There are pluses and minuses to those situations, but people with support staff can focus somewhat more single-mindedly on producing their creative art than the rest of us.

Most of us, whether we default into it or actively choose it, are running our own small, creative businesses. That means we wear a lot more “hats” than those folks mentioned above. We have to do more things ourselves if we want our creative work to find its audience. Most of us have to be our own production managers, webmasters, marketing mavens, and more.

This means that time, for creatives who run small businesses, is always a challenge. We think about our time management every day. This post was inspired, in part, by a friend’s blog post about how she manages her time. I’ve tried variations on her method – it doesn’t entirely work for me – but it might be helpful for many who read this, so check it out (when you have time . . .).

This square design is mostly monotone brown and lighter tan, with a background photo and a centered darker brown square in the middle where the quote is written in white letters. There’s an old-fashioned alarm clock in the background photo. The quote says, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back. – Harvey Mackay. www.dpsayings.com.” Courtesy of DP Sayings.
See Credits below.

A Longtime Field of Study

As far as I can tell I’m not yet crushing it, when it comes to time management. I clearly haven’t completed my “10,000 hours” yet, although there are days when I feel as I’ve spent at least that much time! But if practice is what one does to become good, I ought to get there someday. I’ve certainly been putting in steady hours for a whole bunch of years.

Indeed, it’s possible to track my practice, at least to some extent, through my blog posts over the past few years. Well before The Weird Blog came into being, I wrote with dismay about my desk piles on my personal “Artdog Adventures” blog. I was still writing about time management, also on that same blog, as recently as last week.

I’ve explored questions about time management through the years on The Weird Blog, too. In 2020 it had become clear I must do something differently or never have time to sleep again. I wrote about the occasional need to go rogue and depart from the time-use plan in 2021. And at various points in 2022 I affirmed the occasional need for a sick day and questioned whether I truly was using my time well. Yes, time, for creatives who run small businesses, never seems to stretch far enough.

Here’s another square design with a background photo (of mauve and lavender clouds, this time) and a pink square in the center. Large white quotation marks bracket the quote, which says, “Time management is not about managing TIME; it’s about managing PRIORITIES. – David Allen.” Below the pink square it says, “www.master-xuan.com. Courtesy of Master Xuan’s page of time management quotes.
See Credits below.

Non-Business and Non-Art things

Using time, for creatives, also must include respecting our work-life balance. Yes, we all know the old saw about how if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life. I call bullshit on that one. Enjoying our work is the ideal we all seek. And creatives often find ourselves doing fun things, occasionally with famous people.

But no job is wall-to-wall fun. Not unless we’re in serious denial. Routine, repetitive actions, boring processes, and moments when others waste our time happen in all jobs. And sometimes deadlines build and build and build till one’s life is a pressure-cooker of stress.

There needs to be time for creatives to do self-care. That can mean regular workouts, relaxing meals, personal hygiene, meditation, and more. An important part of self-care is relationship-maintenance, whether we have pets, significant others, friends, or children (or, like most of us, all of the above).

Most of us also have to do housework – although no one had better expect us to have A Spotlessly Beautiful Home (take a moment to read that article by my sister. Reading something funny is also self-care).

This square design is light green, gray, and black. In the lower right is a stack of five rounded river stones, balanced atop each other. The quote to the left of the stones says, “Life is all about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back, and do nothing. – Lori Deschene.” At far lower right, it says, “tiny buddha.com”
See Credits below.

Time May Always be a Struggle

I’m pretty sure that in terms of time I’ll always have “eyes bigger than my belly” – that is, much like my towering “to be read” pile of books, I’ll always have more to do than time to do it in.

Because time, for creatives such as me, is always a challenge.

About the Author

Author Jan S. Gephardt manages her time – or tries to – from her home office in Kansas City, which she shares with the humans and animals of her household. She not only lives with dogs (and makes time for them), she also writes about them. The XK9s are super-sized sapient police dogs who live in a different star system on a space station several hundred years from now. They solve crimes (alongside their human partners) and they’re learning how to be full citizens, even though they don’t have thumbs. Jan is just wrapping up her XK9 “Bones” Trilogy as this article goes live. Her third novel, Bone of Contention, is set for release September 24, 2024.


I originally put together the design with the Warren Buffet quote for my January, 2024 Review Newsletter. The background image was created with the aid of generative AI (yes, I “caved” on this one) by “sidewaypics” via 123rf. (also, many thanks to Warren Buffet!). Many thanks also to DP Sayings for the “Time is free, but it’s priceless” quote image from Harvey Mackay. We’re grateful to Master Xuan for the David Allen quote image about time management. And we also want to thank tiny buddha.com for the quote from Lori Deschene.

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