How To Value Your Time Part 2
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Do you grab your phone to check the world hasn’t devolved in to further chaos? A quick scroll through Instagram? Hit the snooze button until you really have to get up? Start getting everyone else ready?
Whether it’s natural or because my Mother used to wake us up early before school to do our homework so that we’d have fresh, rested minds, the first hour of the day is when my brain is most creative. All of my best ideas, problem-solving and strategies happen in the twilight, golden hour between sleep and waking.
For years I forgot all about how precious that time was. I'd stay up too late trying to work, fuzzy and unfocused. In the morning I'd wake up tired and groggy, thinking about a job I was doing for a client, a friend’s problem, or mindlessly scroll social media. I was either throwing my golden hour away, or giving it to other people.
We all have different times of the day we’re at our most creative. For some people, it’s the shower, or walking, when we’re doing the washing up or about to fall asleep. It’s important to protect that time, to cultivate it; keep a pen and paper or voice recorder nearby, let other people know you need some space, and make sure it happens.
What percentage of your work actually moves the needle?
If I’m running a communications campaign for a client, around 20% of the activity sells 60-80% of the tickets/ music/ products. That work constantly changes, but in any given week roughly 20% of the work I do is making significant things happen. If I spent all of my time on the less important 80% of the work, we’d be in trouble.
It’s harder to see what that crucial 20% is in our creative work. Often, we spend most of our time working on the thing we like doing the most, whether it moves the needle or not. For example, I should be spending more time working on a content schedule and my headlines, and less time than I do on editing and fiddling with the design of this site.
A lot of musicians I’ve worked with in the past want to spend all of their time making music or on stage performing, instead of finding imaginative ways to share that music or get those gigs. The problem is, very few PRs, agents, label marketers are going to consistently devote their golden hour to your future. Their golden hour is spent thinking about their future, as it should be, even though the two are linked.
If you want to move your creative career forward, you need to dedicate your most valuable creative time to it. That might only be 15 minutes a day when you’re locked in the bathroom, but you must spend that time on whatever the 20% most crucial work is for you that week.
We often think that unless we have large amounts of time to dedicate to our work, we’ll never get anywhere. A lot of us don’t feel entitled to spend any of our time on that work. But that work is an investment, and it adds up like compound interest, slowly growing in value as you invest regularly - even with micropayments.
Life and other people will try to get in the way. Give them some of your time if you feel it’s important, but don’t give them your golden time. That’s an important investment in your future, as important as check-ups at the doctor, having a pension or - let’s be real - proper skincare. You can’t afford to miss it.
Read Part 1 to explore how to decide how much time you can afford to give away.
When is your most creative time, your golden hour? How are you going to protect it? Let me know in the comments, I want tips!