First Quarter Review: More Effective Time Management

Quarter Review

Here is a question we feel we’ve gotten closer to figuring out the answer:

Do you get anxious about having a bazillion things you want to do because there is only so much time to do so many different things?

Answer: Not so much anymore

What about you?

I think creative people that only want to focus on one thing are the luckiest. Like Elizabeth Gilbert for example, she knew and always knew there was only ONE thing in the world she wanted to do, write. Nothing else lured her away from that passion. Me, (and I suspect many of you) I am on the totally opposite side of that.

As creatives, we want to do it all and every single idea of a new offering, or product, or design, or book, or project or new craft or new blog gets us so excited that is hard to put things into perspective.  And then we start getting anxious – confronted with the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. So we go to the extreme and from wanting to do it all, we get paralyzed and do nothing! And the funny thing is, we don’t want to let go of anything, we truly believe we can do it all.

Here is the thing: We can do it all! Just not all at once.

You have probably heard that before many times. I can almost see you rolling your eyes.

You can do anything but not everything quote -David Allen

I heard it many times before too (and rolled my eyes too), however, I promise you that practicing it, is a-whole-other deal.

A challenging deal that is!

But we need to get on it and try it out because it is our only way out of anxiousness, paralyzed mode, and overwhelmed town!

Creative retreat in santa barbara

Back in January, we headed for a 2 day Creative Business Retreat to outline a plan for the first quarter of the year. Sounds fun! and it was, but it also was a challenging deal.

This meant choosing from all those ideas and sticking to the ones we are going to put in place in a year’s time frame. How did we do that? Well, we looked at all the ideas, sorted through them based on levels of how much joy will doing this bring us? And also we passed those ideas through financial and do-ability filters.

Planning yearly goals

After all that, we chose a small list of goals for the year’s first quarter. Let’s review them and see how we are doing

Creating art every day: 

Dariana: I feel a lot of progress in this area. I don’t think we were able to do it every day from the beginning. But for the last 3 weeks I have been painting every day. What made it work for me was partnering up with an accountability buddy. It’s almost impossible not to do it when there is someone expecting to receive an image of your work every day. I’m planning to keep this habit alive for many months to come. Next month might be a little different because I’ll be traveling half the month but I’ll definitely adapt the habit as much as I can to my journey.

Website re-design:

This is still a work in progress. We couldn’t get a handle on this project earlier in the year as we thought we would. It was very difficult to be present in the design class and be designing the website at the same time. Also, we knew that much of the website copy and layout depended on our marketing strategy, so we had to adjust our timeline to our marketing coaching sessions a little. However it is a good thing that we got it started and it’s moving faster than we thought!

Start implementing our marketing strategy:

This has been one of the best things we’ve done so far. Yes! we started and are going strong! We are following the main structure that we designed together with Michelle (our Marketing coach). Having a strategy changes everything and keeps our work and small daily decisions all under the same vision and going towards the final goal.  I think knowing that, is the most efficient anxiety antidote.

Launch our Standout guide:

This launch is the perfect example of underestimating our efforts and how long things take in our world. We thought this would be ready in December. Then we went to our retreat and thought we’ll have it ready by the end of February. Turns out that we were only able to finish and launch it 2 days ago. What?? yes, I know what you are thinking, what took you so long? Well, mainly other paid work that needs to take priority. Client orders, freelance, other licensing designs, etc. Lesson learned for me is to always account for more time than I think things will take. Also account for last minute things like getting sick, or a day with no internet, a friend calls and really needs you to pick him up. I don’t know. Unpredicted things always happen so it’s better to account for it like you would with a rainy day fund. Let’s call this one rainy-day, extra-time fund.

Take a design class:

Classes are so important. They are also time-consuming and require time and attention, especially with so many classes now available to be taken at your own pace. As usual, I thought I allocated a lot of time for it but it would have been great to be able to allocate even more time for this class. It was intense and super enjoyable.  I wrote about my first-week experience here.

Create new subscription offering:

We have barely started to do this. Mainly because the Standout guide and the main website re-design were taking (and still is in some ways) most of our time. Again underestimating how much time things take. The biggest lesson of this first quarter.

Lesson learned while doing a quarter review

Apparently we aren’t the only ones. The Sydney Opera House was expected to be completed in 1963. A scaled-down version opened in 1973, a decade later. The Denver International Airport opened sixteen months later than scheduled with a total cost of $4.8 billion; over $2 billion more than expected.

Phew! I don’t feel so bad now. It’s a real thing and it’s called the planning fallacy. See? it’s not only us creatives. We all become optimistic about our own deadlines and underestimate how long things take.

As we head into our second quarter of the year, what would our goals be now that we have a sharper view of what’s ahead and we understand how we sabotage ourselves?

Our goals for the second quarter are much simpler now:

  • Finish website re-design
  • Finish new website freebie (based on new subscription offering)
  • Keep creating everyday

I hope that looking at the way we plan and execute things has given you a spark on how you could start implementing and start your own projects. It’s always better to work on one project at a time, because your audience also digests better one project at a time.

So, how would you answer this question? And has the answer changed through the years?

Do you get anxious about having bazillion things you want to do because there is only so much time to do so many different things? Let us know!

We hope you enjoyed reading about our lessons learned this quarter – it’s been an exciting year and we’ve got much more to come, we hope you’ll stay tuned!

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