top of page

Managing Your Plate as a Creative Professional

Are you regretting or resenting how many things you’ve taken on or having to work crazy hours to meet deadlines or to clear your plate for the next day? 


We’ve all been there, when we have said yes to too many projects or opportunities. We’ve said yes to opportunities because they felt exciting or we felt flattered to be asked. Sometimes we’ve said yes out of fear we won’t have the opportunity again. Or we tell ourselves this is something we “should” do. All of these yeses heaped on top of commitments we actually planned. Before we know it our plate is overflowing. It’s already mid-November and time is running out to get stuff done by the end of year! 

In the last few weeks, I've had creatives reaching out for help and had many coaching conversations about how to manage multiple priorities and get on top of what feels like an overwhelming to do list. 

Here’s some coaching questions and food for thought I have to offer if your stomach is getting into knots looking at your plate:


Do a brain dump and audit of what’s on your plate.

Make a list of all of your commitments and to do’s. Get it all out of your head and on to paper so that you can step back and see the big picture rather than have it all swirling around in your head and making you feel nauseous. Take a look at your brain dump…


Of everything currently on your plate, what do you really want or need to sink your teeth into?


Identify those projects or commitments that you really want or need to put time and energy into because they are fulfilling, move you forward towards longer term goals or will give you the most sense of achievement.


What is on your list that can wait or can be crossed off altogether?   (Things that aren’t actually urgent, have no firm deadline or no longer feel important.)

Find some quick wins.

Whether it’s an email you’ve been putting off answering or sending, a pile of papers, digital files or part of your studio or workspace that need tidying up to give you a sense of being better organized or that you’ve moved something forward. 


What could you clear off your plate in 15 minutes or less? 


Tip: Make a habit of asking yourself when you find yourself waiting for a meeting, paint to dry, your kiln to cool or some other natural break in your day.


Focus on your big rocks.

Your big rocks are those projects and commitments that you really want to show up for and do your best work. Often this is work that requires deep focus, creativity and presence.


What is one thing you can do today or this week to feel you are moving forward? 


Get real and be honest with yourself about how much time you need.  Is it better for you to do this kind of work in the morning, afternoon or evening? Block time and take care to eliminate distractions for focused deep work. If you usually work at home and tend to get distracted by household tasks or pets, perhaps you need to go to your studio, a co-working space, the library or a coffee shop to ensure you can focus. See more of my tips for making time and space to do your work here.


Say "no thank you".

This can be a challenge for a lot of creatives for lots of reasons as I described earlier. And you may be in a position where you can’t say no to things that are already on your plate. However, in this moment, with your full plate in full view from doing your brain dump, take a couple of minutes to make note of what’s there and what clearly shouldn’t be there in your mind. 


What do you need to say "no thank you" to in the short-term so that you can better manage your plate for the rest of November?

What specifically do you want to say "no thank you" to moving forward?

Image Credit: Chris Mitchell

26 views0 comments


bottom of page