Typically I try to blog about stuff related to photography, Photoshop, and all things graphical. But photography and graphics are all about workflow, and workflow is all about saving time and effort, so this article on Wired.com has peaked my interest. It’s called ‘Diary of a Self-Help Dropout: Flirting With the 4-Hour Workweek‘.
(above, image from the article) Written in a very humorous style, this article is about a freelance writer who has difficulty and some mild schizophrenia about managing all of his jobs and tasks. Sounds like…all of us.
The Wired writer, Chris Hardwick, begins his article by saying: “I am a freelancer. My services are available to anyone at any time. In a former life I was probably a whore… Don’t get me wrong; in this economy, I’m grateful for the work. But without any kind of 9-to-5 structure, it’s a lot to keep track of.”
Hardwick spends the article (and six weeks) evaluating three different time-management books. His thought was that these books and their productivity systems are more relevant to people with full-time jobs rather than someone who is a juggler.
At the close of the Wired article, the writer’s summary is: “[I]n retrospect, it makes sense that I found it easier to cherry-pick elements from each and stitch together my own wearable cloak of efficiency… Look, freelancers are “free” because they take risks—they don’t like being told what to do. That’s both exciting and daunting, because you have to police you. The trick to being both manager and employee is getting leverage on yourself. Still, joining any one of these time-management cults full-on seemed too much like getting a real job. I prefer to swipe the best ideas and ignore the rest.”
Our company, Digital Anarchy, is a small one. We hand-fill our orders and the president is one of the folks who answers the phone. Everyone is a full-time employee but each person carries many roles and juggles many projects. And as with most of our customers, many of whom are freelance photographers or artists, we don’t abide by a 9am-5pm work life. Digital Anarchy is an around-the-clock job.
So this article really spoke to me. I was a freelance artist before coming to DA and often feel as if I am still working multiple jobs, though it’s all for the same company. I take copious scribbly notes on paper, which makes me feel like I am accomplishing something simply in the tracking. I make checklists and am careful to include a few recently executed tasks, just for the satisfaction of immediately crossing them off. I duplicate my lists to a calendar and digital note system to remind myself of the most important stuff.
Do I need a targeted productivity system? Maybe. For me it really comes down to where my head is at when I sit in front of the computer and what fire is burning. Often I find that just keeping Facebook closed and my cell phone ringer off are enough to be productive. ;)
How do you keep yourself on track?