The 90-10 Guideline--Spend Most of Your Time Creating

Most of the people I work with didn't have entrepreneurship in mind when they chose their path. They decided to pursue their work for the creativity of it. Authors want to write, painters want to paint, sculptors want to sculpt, musicians want to record and get the picture. You would probably like to spend most of your time making the things you want to make, too. And the reality soon comes home that if you want to make all or part of your living from your creative passion, someone is going to have to pay for it, so there is a part of your work that is about facilitating those transactions. For many of us, trying to understand and carry out the business part of our work becomes so time consuming that we end up using up all of our creative time doing business. I've found that it doesn't have to be that way.

The system that I use for myself, and that I teach is the 90-10 Guideline. The 90-10 Guideline is just a way of devoting my time to the different things I need to do to both create and derive an income. The 90 side of the equation is creative time. For me, most of that time is spent writing, creating media, coaching, and on occasion playing music. I want my clients to spend the vast majority of their time creating. The 10 side of the equation is the amount of time you spend on what I call the impact oriented part of your work. Impact includes things like growing and keeping in touch with your audience, finding or creating events to showcase your work, taking care of logistical concerns like mailing, emailing, and office administration.

I don't include my day job hours in the equation. If I work 10 hours a week in my part time job, I'm not counting those on either side. In my schedule there are usually 24 hours each week that are available for my creative work. So I round off my creative time to about 21.5 hours, and my impact time is 2.5 hours. I could divide that among the four days each week that I have available, but I actually prefer to schedule my impact time for one of the days, so that I can have large blocks of time for creating.

I usually like to do my impact work on Tuesday mornings. That's my first workday of each week, and I like to let people know how I'm going to be spending my time. During this time I get most of my correspondence done, especially catching up with requests and inquiries that arrive over the weekend. I also send out messages to my facebook groups if I have any, and I also post my schedule. Any administrative things that need to be done are usually able to fit here, and I also use this time to set up any appointments that remain to be scheduled. I often find that I don't need the whole two and a half hours to get everything done.

I believe in simple systems, so I do use one for the Impact routine. For events that are coming up, I schedule social media announcements and invitations using Hootsuite. It's easy to send multiple messages through the week this way. If I have an event coming up in the coming month I'll make posters and handbills to distribute. I've stopped hanging posters for most of my events, except large speaking engagements and concerts, I do put posters on all of my online locations like website, facebook, twitter, and sometimes Instagram. I'll be adding email subscriptions to this in the next couple of months.

Most of the work that I do in the 10 percent side is around audience contact and managing transactions. There is occasional bookkeeping and record keeping to do, and every so often there will be things like license renewal, or other business related tasks. Impact time is the time it takes to make my work visible and to get to the people who will use it and benefit from it.

The 90 percent side is now an abundant time for creating. I don't have a lot of systems and structures for this time. The only constraint, and it's a loose one, is that I like to work in 90 minute segments then take a short break. If you want to read a great book about your time rhythms at work, check out The Way We're Working Isn't Working by Tony Schwartz. I find that my productivity and quality stay pretty high when I'm not rushing, and when I'm not putting in too many hours at a stretch.

In my own experience, and those shared by my clients, this split between creative and impact time really works. Until I started this my approach to the impact work was to either wait until the last minute or to not do it at all. I thought I could get by flying by the seat of my pants, but in those times my shows were poorly attended, and I didn't have more than a trickle of clients. Now, I'm seeing my audience grow steadily, and I'm beginning to see an increase in my coaching opportunities as well.

Try the 90-10 Guideline for a couple of months and let me know what happens.