Getting Serious with Creativity: Separating Administrative and Production Work
If you would like to make better use of your time as an artist or creative person, I think a great piece of advice is to separate “administrative” vs. “production” activities clearly in your mind.
I learned this trick while consulting for publishing companies. I have yet to author anything for these companies, which I consider “production” type of work. The role I have filled is more administrative. I am considered a “Subject Matter Expert” so I review completed work- books, powerpoint slides, videos, etc. looking for any issues or problems. It’s a little beyond typical editing, but I am not producing or creating the work.
What I have learned is that two different mindsets are needed for administrative vs. production work. In my “regular job” of college professor, I have no problem separating these two. But, in the world of my art, everything seems to run together, leading to a muddy mess in my mind, and a sense of wasting time.
Lately, I have tried to apply what I have learned as a consultant to my artistic life. Similar to consulting, I have set up an excel spreadsheet to track my time. I have further separated my artistic activities into “administrative” and “production” on a site known as “workflowy” (check it out!).
In my art life, administrative activities mean such things as ordering art supplies, wrapping up art for storage, art submissions, transferring files, etc. All things that need to be done and require an “administrative” mindset. Before, when I would do these things, I eventually ended up in a “production” mindset- re-evaluating everything, coming up with more creative ideas, etc.
I would start to move some files, and then get side-tracked into other ideas. Or I would begin to order some specific art supplies, only to find I had wasted 1.5 hours on following a new train of thought.
Now, though, I don’t do this. I pretend, in my administrative mindset, that I have been given a specific job objective and then I simply complete the task, much like I do in my consulting work. I do not overthink it. I do not veer off into production and creativity. I reserve those activities for when I truly want to produce and create. I have found this frees up my mind to focus on each task specifically, administrative or production, without confusing the issue.