7 Tips for Maximizing Productivity and Creative Output as an Artist

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By Casey Cavaliere

Between juggling the demands of day to day life with our artistic endeavors, it’s no surprise we often feel like we lack the time to finish the projects we start. Finding the motivation to create is a huge step, but harnessing and maintaining its power can be equally challenging. 

Understanding how to effectively capitalize on the limited time and resources we have can be a frustrating process. 

So when it comes to staying on track and multiplying the results of your effort, these are some of my favorite tips for maximizing productivity and creative output.

1. Schedule Time to Create

Planning out your days and weeks on a calendar in advance can give you clarity on how you are utilizing your time. By keeping track of each hour, you can better manage the tasks that make up your larger goals, ensuring that the most important tasks have the proper amount of time and mental resources dedicated ahead of time.

This eliminates a scarcity mindset by prioritizing the creative process in your schedule and building the space for total focus during those blocks of time. Try to work in at least 90 minute blocks for best results.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “Want to Get More Done? Get Better at Setting Deadlines for Yourself.”

2. Make It a Priority

Accomplishing a goal starts with choosing to prioritize it in your life. We have a tendency to believe we can handle a million things at once. But here’s the unfortunate reality: With so many items on our to-do lists, we often slow down our forward momentum by constantly shifting our energy from task to task without finishing any of them.

Organize your list with the items that will drive the most progress at the top. Follow through on those before moving to another task. If it’s worth finishing, it’s worth temporarily sacrificing other small items on your checklist.

3. Set a Goal

Defining each step of your creative process can offer you a roadmap to follow throughout the timeline of a project. Consider what things you’ll need to complete a project, what might get in the way, and how you’ll handle those obstacles.

Additionally, write out each step in the form of a  “S.M.A.R.T” goal — ensuring that each step is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic, and
  • Time-Based

This will create a comprehensive framework for tracking progress and staying motivated.

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4. Recharge

Allow yourself time to rest and restore your mental and physical capacity to focus deeply. The time you set aside to create is only as valuable as the mental capacity for creative exploration you bring to it. The rejuvenating effects of sleep can aid in mood, memory, and pattern recognition.

Beyond that, taking small strategic breaks throughout your day can help prolong your productivity and avoid mental fatigue. These periods of rest are also important for letting your brain reflect and connect new thoughts or ideas. I write more about this in my post, “How to Achieve A Healthy Work-Life Balance As A Musician.” 

5. Pareto Principle (the 80/20 Rule)

Decide which goals or tasks on your creative checklist will have the largest positive impact in your life or career. Focus the majority of your attention on those goals each day.

Accomplishing the most important 20% of your checklist will often serve your overall productivity as much (if not more) than the remaining 80%. It’s not always about the quantity of boxes you check, but the quality that makes the real difference. 

+ Read more on Flypaper: “How Do You Eat an Elephant?”

6. Remove Other Obstacles

Identify the aspects of your situation or process that are holding you back. Focus your initial time and energy on eliminating those constraints which slow you down.

Once you recognize and deal with these restrictions, you’ll create the ability to move toward your goals at an exponentially faster rate. Identifying and planning for potential setbacks at the start of a project can better prepare you to overcome them as they arise.

7. Define Your Motivation

Understand what it is that you are striving to achieve, and why that outcome is so important to you. Above all, this is the motivation that will keep you pressing on through periods of self-doubt, frustration, and uncertainty.

Establishing  your “guiding light” early in the process gives you something greater than the work itself to drive you through the challenges you’ll face as a creative. By detaching your self-esteem and self-worth from the specific work itself, you can free yourself from internal judgements that can be toxic to creative productivity.

I hope that these tools empower you to overcome creative obstacles, channel energy into what truly matters, and move forward with purpose. It takes a little practice, but if you keep at it you’ll improve your productivity, master time management, and get the most out of your artistic output.

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Casey Cavaliere is an American record producer, mixing engineer, songwriter, and artist coach, as well as a member of the Billboard-charting band The Wonder Years

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