tracking it hard: thoughts on efficiency whilst being a creative

Last month I was part of a panel discussion on the FORWARD FESTIVAL in Vienna. Hosted by Ladies, Wine, and Design we were a group of 6 international lady creatives discussing things like inspiration, failure, and the overall creative process. It was very nice to see the different approaches and the common ideas we were living by. We had a lot of similar points of views but one specific topic stuck with me the most. Efficiency, time-tracking and time limits we give ourselves as creatives. Whilst all the other ladies seemed to jump into their projects free spirited to figure out the timing on the go (at least the once that took part in this part of the discussion) I was the only one to admit that I am a time-tracking NERD! I started to track everything I do around 2 years ago and ever since I became obsessed with it. Why? Because after 10 years of working in agencies and as a freelancer I wanted to know exactly how long things take me, I wanted to improve my time management and I wanted to grow and be smarter with the insights I would gain.

So I started to use toggle and tracked everything. After 3 months I already could see how much time I was losing due to surfing the internet, social media and what not. I also found out that my concentration span was quite low and after around 38min my mind started to wonder. After 6 months of challenging myself to only need specific amounts of time for specific tasks I already could tell that my efficiency had improved by 30% so I delivered 30% more work in the same amount of time. It also helped me to see where I was really quick, where I needed more time, what came easy and what was a pain in the ass. It ultimately also helped me how to calculate budgets even more exactly and reduce the level of stress I sometimes had, whiles working on several projects at the same time. Because I could tell myself: "You don't need to worry you have more than enough time." The knowledge I gained simply brought transparency I could use for all sorts of things. I also trained myself to concentrate and be in the zone for 2,5 hours instead of 40 minutes. Which changed my overall creative process and I could enjoy being creative way more again.

The ladies at the conference looked at me like I am a crazy person when I tried to summarize my obsession. Voicing that they would think, that all of that kills inspiration and creativity. But I believe it to be on the contrary: I do decide to stay in the zone and I do wonder off. I literally reward myself with days where I can do whatever. And sometimes you can't exactly know how long you need for creative things to come out. The fact that I have the freedom to also be able to NOT perform and not need to bother because I am on top of it, in combination with more spare time makes everything worth it and way easier. Try it for yourself!

All the amazing ladies that took part in the conversation:

Birgit Palma
Natalia Stuyk
Julia Kahl
Isabella Thaller