Time Management Tips to Start the New Year

When I finished college and started working full-time, I was struck by the amount of free time I suddenly had on my hands. My last semester of school, I didn't have a single day off from work or class (and often class days were much longer than work) until my last final exam was completed. To go from that kind of schedule to a measly 40 hours a week was a stark difference.

I like to be busy, so I thought that just wouldn't do.

Since then, I've picked up freelance corporate work, started doing more photography sessions, and gotten more involved in the indie film groups in Indianapolis. Right now, I'm cutting a short film with a tight turnaround (released online 13 days from today), working on an indie feature, cutting a new teaser for the indie feature (released online soon), working on a script, trying to finish 8 time sensitive web videos, corporate freelance revisions, and oh yeah, I guess I should probably take down my Christmas tree.

So yeah, I'm busy. I burn the candle at both ends a lot. Last December, I ended up working on three things at once with a tight deadline and it nearly killed me. I realized after that month that I really needed to figure out how to balance personal time and work time. When you work on things at home, it can be easy to fall into the default setting of always working. My cat gets neglected and the household falls to disarray, mostly because I prefer to work myself to death and come in early instead of on time. Here are some things I've tried to do to keep myself in check:

Consider each project

Don't just keep taking on jobs because you want to earn more or participate. Think about each project and if you can really turn it around in the time needed. Consider the challenges that might come up that'll send it off the rails.

Have a plan

If the project is worth your time, sketch out a plan for completion and work on single tasks each day. Don't get overwhelmed or try to do too much. Be honest with yourself about how much you can accomplish. Don't descend into the darkness of your edit cave for 50 hours at a time if you don't have to (and sometimes you do!)

Take a break

If you're working nonstop on a bunch of projects, take an evening to yourself if you can. A lot of the time, if you take some time to do something else instead of work, you only screw yourself. But if you have a plan, and you can work in some breaks to have a normal life, your project will benefit from your eyes being away from it.

Being able to tear yourself away from a project is a really important aspect of time management. We all know it, but we don't do it. Staying conscious of time passing is a difficult skill to learn, especially when you're in a dark room. Remember that taking breaks to go for a walk, socialize with your cats, or say hello to your spouse will lead to a better editorial experience.