I’m a freelance creative. Here’s how I sketch out my time management matrix.

In my vocation as an illustrator who has been published by The New York Periods, Penguin Publications, Buzzfeed, and much more, I have to balance freelance gigs with training and other obligations — and I have observed building a time administration matrix that reflects my individual priorities as an artist to be important.

My schedule is not gridded out into even 9-5 times, and the total of function is uneven. Work have a tendency to ebb and circulation — just about every assignment thanks all at at the time, and then practically nothing at all. When you are working with a glut of initiatives to juggle, it can be simple to overlook what your final objectives are.

I’ve experienced to establish time management approaches about the study course of my job to make sure all the function I just take on is concluded on time and at the professional degree consumers count on when they hire me — and that it matches what I want to be achieved, way too.

If you’ve heard of Covey’s 4 Quadrants of Time Management Matrix, this is the version for creatives. Down below is a list of critical parts the place I have uncovered how to juggle my time and assignments based on how significant the job is, how substantially it pays, and how significantly other get the job done I presently have on my plate. And recall: Be guaranteed to just take time for relaxation.

Analyzing what is critical in the time management matrix

Cribbed from “The 7 Routines of Really Productive Persons,” Stephen Covey’s time management matrix seeks to assistance organize your priorities by dividing do the job routines into four quadrants. He divides experienced obligations into what’s important and what’s urgent. Essential pursuits support accomplish your particular and specialist priorities, though urgent pursuits are the kind of pants-on-fire deadlines you come across when you are a freelancer working on anyone else’s agenda. (Discover additional about Covey’s time management matrix and uncover sample time administration templates in this article.)

For creatives, my top rated advice is this: Usually prioritize your personal get the job done. Regardless of what you prioritize will obviously be the issue that requires up most of your time and results in being the most important matter you are carrying out. So make certain you are concentrating your time and power on the detail that you want to be the center of your lifestyle.

There will generally be a little something ready to eat up all of your time if you permit it. The get the job done you need to do may well be the factor that pays the bills — for occasion, creating layouts for grocery suppliers coupon flyers — when you WANT to be principle and character planning for Cartoon Network. It does you no excellent to be a perfectionist on one thing you really don’t like when it usually takes time away from the activity that may possibly not fork out what you want now but will guide you to the long term vocation you hope to have and be known for. Hardly ever take a position that you have to be superior at except it is the 1 you enjoy.  

time management matrix
As a creative, regardless of what you shell out the most time on results in being the heart of your everyday living. Which is why your time administration matrix must prioritize your individual do the job


The two ways of examining value in a get the job done is to identify its financial price or its own price. Monetary value is quick. Are you finding paid a ton or even more than enough? Particular benefit is challenging. I think that, for the most aspect, likely into art for the cash is an unfulfilling endeavor and, a bit like actively playing the lottery, not at all a secure wager. There are considerably easier techniques to make money and get prosperous. Likely into artwork as a job for private achievement is more reasonable. So assessing the significance of a occupation primarily based on individual ambitions is a smarter strategy than focusing purely on economical get.

If all the get the job done you do is purely for monetary acquire, the potential worth of your do the job may well in fact lessen around time. Your operate may well conclude up incredibly inconsistent you will generally be producing do the job based on other people’s viewpoints, aesthetics, and wishes, and you will seldom, if at any time, be in a place to be the writer of your own concepts.

You require to make funds to endure, but you want to create a recognizable and personalized human body of perform that attracts clients primarily based on YOUR particular eyesight and aesthetic. This is the place cost-free work is useful, both self-generated get the job done or perform for other folks. Some examples would be a new publication with amazing articles and terrific design and style, but no finances ways you or a band you truly like. Is it completely wrong for them to check with you to do the job for no cost? I don’t think so.

It’s also fantastic to convey to these people today no. But if you say yes, only do so if you sense like you are in management of the assignment. If the spend is tiny or non-existent, the payment should really be you showcasing new operate in the most effective feasible mild. It’s a predicament wherever you should feel thoroughly snug taking entire manage.

If the client does not have a funds, they do not get to convey to you how to do your work. You should really be in a position to make a piece that displays off your expertise, a undertaking that you can convert into your desire position, and a thing you can effortlessly use to advertise on your own. It must be get the job done that you can use to get more operate.

Beneath no circumstances really should you do perform for free of charge for any customer, besides your parents or siblings, which you are sad with or are not in total manage of. And if you discover that you’ve performed a job for totally free, and the customer commences to check with for variations, wander absent from the task.

Any likely shopper that provides get the job done for no cost instantly relinquishes any last say or ideal to revisions. (There are a couple of crucial exceptions, like not-for-earnings or charitable shoppers in which the work would be for a great bring about you help.) So do not be scared to say indeed to no cost perform as lengthy as it is a project you can get fired up about and make extraordinary get the job done for, work that you are in command of, and that improvements you to a personalized job purpose.

Set limits with the amount of freelance get the job done you get on

The most crucial way to handle your time is to not take on far more function than you can take care of. As a freelancer, primarily a freelancer that is just commencing out, the inclination is to want to say certainly to everything, but this can guide to a bottleneck of perform. There will come a time when you inevitably have to change down assignments, possibly thanks to a complete workload, journey or illness, or any amount of other challenges.

How do you choose what get the job done to prioritize? you have to choose which work is the most important to you, the most precious in conditions of dollars, or the most precious to your career in other words, does the work achieve or progress any personal goals of yours?

Using perform for money is sensible, but if it is not artwork you will show everyone, or that you are not happy of, or will not get you much more of the sort of do the job you want, it could not be worthwhile. Perfectly-paying get the job done that you are not proud of only serves shorter-expression ambitions, not very long-phrase kinds.

If you have to flip do the job down, question you what your most essential goals are, and evaluate the worth of the do the job from most to the very least important. Never be frightened to turn down the lesser essential work. When you are a freelancer, you frequently confront the stress and anxiety that each task is your possible last career and that turning anything at all down is negative for your profession and popularity.

But I have uncovered to search at it a different way: burning time on employment that aren’t going you forward can be much more detrimental by shifting your power and focus absent from your targets. If you are in a problem in which plenty of people are speaking to you about operate, you can convert down work opportunities periodically and not have to fear that function will disappear.

This suggestions is not meant to disregard getting to operate to assist on your own. If you are just commencing out and not entirely supporting yourself as an artist, it is significant to assume of a portion-time career or any work that is performed purely for cash flow but if not not element of your career as some thing that should really be less demanding and considerably less critical. This may possibly indicate quickly residing with a lot less for a time period of time, acquiring roommates, not ingesting out, etcetera.

When I to start with commenced out, following my undergraduate research, I had to get a occupation earning pizzas to shell out hire. I also labored as an artist’s assistant to gain knowledge in my discipline, and the rest of my time was dedicated to creating my personal work. My workdays clocked in at about 12-16 several hours. This was an exhausting harmony to manage, and from time to time it intended heading a 7 days or much more without having creating any of my individual artwork.

A facet influence of the fluctuations in freelance — the traditional feast-to-famine cycle — is that other much less crucial but nevertheless crucial things get pushed apart. Promotion, social media and website maintenance, invoices and taxes, and day to day healthful behavior like training, buying groceries, and cleansing, are all set off, together with particular enthusiasm projects, and your possess function could get sidelined.

It is inevitable that certain things will get neglected the risk is dropping touch with or concentrating on individuals peripheral points. To keep targeted, preserve a record of duties to focus on throughout downtime. It is straightforward to eliminate focus or not know how to switch aim from qualified function to own duties. Not understanding where to start out on a working day off is a frequent dilemma.

Preserving lists appears like a basic thing, but it’s critical for remaining focused. Once you have totally free time, glance at your listing of duties.

Make inventive decisions centered on the time you have

time management matrix
As a freelance resourceful, you must build a design that makes it possible for you to full compensated work on a deadline.


In my time administration matrix, I’ve had to make choices about my style that replicate how prolonged I have to comprehensive the work — this means what I have time for generally establishes stylistic and product possibilities. I’ve uncovered to make fast drawings that are placing to accommodate shorter deadlines. I would in no way check out to do a portray for an assignment that I only have a working day to full.

Because quite a few of my dealings are brief, I have realized to work properly in simple strains and nominal colour fairly than highly rendered drawings and paintings. It is also just as probable that I get far more employment with shorter deadlines since art directors acknowledge that I have a design that is remarkably successful and daring thanks to its deadline-oriented nature.

Budgeting time for particular jobs is essential. How do you know how long an assignment will take? How do you know what method to use to get a piece carried out on time?

There is no great response to this the only resolution is knowledge. It’s significant to develop an artistic exercise that does not guide to overwork. It is also not a excellent strategy to experiment with new concepts on a small deadline. Understanding your course of action is essential in becoming capable to gauge how to make excellent operate on a limited deadline.

Some deadlines can be as quick as a couple several hours. In situations like this, the thought and fashion for the art have to in shape the timeline, your artwork is a item of the limitation of the deadline. It is not realistic to imagine in conditions of earning the fantastic graphic or dwelling on how the perform could have been greater at the time you’ve turned it in. It is a lot more successful to consider an solution that makes it possible for the do the job to be as good as attainable inside of the timeline.

More than the years, I have tailor-made my system to match within the sort of deadlines I get. Sections of my course of action I have shed in excess of the yrs that get up as well considerably unnecessary time. My lifework grew to become fewer fussy and additional to the level, my coloration turned easier and bolder, and I created a trusted palette that I can return to with out a great deal deliberation or second-guessing. If you obtain that your workflow leads to constant all-nighters, you may well look at utilizing alterations in your artmaking solution.

Enjoy out for purple flags that can guide to overwork

            Environment limitations on a undertaking at the quite starting is vital. A task that would seem easy can very easily get mired in revisions. Beware of artwork directors who really do not give obvious recommendations on what they are wanting for. “Approach this challenge having said that you want” or “we want to see your interpretation of this” can seem pleasurable, but in actuality, they are warning indicators.

It normally suggests the consumer doesn’t know what they want and desires you to develop something as a commencing level for the shopper to explore all of the issues they really don’t want. Or it usually means that the consumer thinks you can read their intellect and see the photos in their head while lacking the techniques in language to convey to you what they want plainly.

In any scenario, this can lead to unlimited and disheartening revisions. So it is pretty vital to state at the starting how numerous rounds of revisions on sketches and revisions on finals you are inclined to do just before the spending plan has to improve to accommodate the additional do the job. If you point out this at the beginning, the client’s course typically gets much clearer.

At times you don’t consider to make these stipulations up entrance, which is Ok. If you make it to the 2nd spherical of revisions on possibly sketch or ultimate, and you really don’t really feel like the spending budget, or your schedule, accounts for this, then it is Okay to inform the consumer that after this spherical of revisions, the price range requirements to be improved to accommodate a lot more revisions.

It is not realistic for you or your consumer to be a perfectionist with every career. Often great is fantastic plenty of when time and money are minimal, and you do not owe any customer a masterpiece unless they are spending you masterpiece costs.

 Don’t ignore the relevance of rest

When I was in college or university and as a younger experienced just starting up out, overworking and all-nighters have been glamorized and viewed as a badge of honor. In truth, overworking, all-nighters, and in common, pushing your self to extremes and exhaustion is harmful and normally unproductive (although often unavoidable).

The reality is you make improved decisions — and much better artwork — when you are properly-fed and perfectly-rested. If you unquestionably should get the job done all night, be absolutely sure to try to eat and remain hydrated or else, your brain will shut down prior to you want it to. It is fantastic to don’t forget having and drinking drinking water, specially drinking water, are significantly more effective techniques of keeping up longer than just ingesting espresso.

1 unbelievably vital issue I’ve learned around the yrs in freelance is to not forget to acquire breaks or devalue my particular time. Mastering to consider rest into account is straightforward to neglect but crucial to consider. As a freelancer, you still deserve a individual daily life and free of charge time, so normally account for that.

What time administration techniques do you use in your resourceful lifetime? Enable us know in the feedback.