Time Management Resource for Creative Professionals

“What we are managing is not time but rather our activities in time”

Thorbjoern Mann

As the New Year is quickly approaching, we begin the process of evaluating the past year and getting ready for the New Year

In the blog post Understanding Design by Understanding Constraints: I talked about constraints and their importance to the practice of design.   In the excerpted interview with Charles Eames he talked about:

“the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible. – his/her willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints – the constraints  of price, of size, of strength, balance, of surface, of TIME.”

Clock image for time management blogThis post is about the management of time.  Something that is a challenge for everyone in our 24/7 world but uniquely so for designers and creative professionals. There is a terrific resource written especially for the unique problems that concern the architects, designers, and other creative professionals. It is written and designed in an accessible way that will allow you to begin to implement the techniques into your workflow as you see fit. The first step is to create a thorough list and to do an evaluation of what you feel are your time management problems.  It could be a number of thing: workspace, recognizing your optimal time of day, equipment, and setting priorities,. Can you think of anything else?

The text is “Time Management for Architects and Designers: Challenges and Remedies”, by Thorbjoern Mann. Thorbjoern Mann is an author and professor emeritus at the School of Architecture, Florida A&M University.  He wrote the book in an effort to help his own students with time management challenges.  He also aimed to fill a specific need because most time management books do not address the specific challenges of designers. (The drawings are also particularly wonderful!)  I recommend this book as a reference to keep around your studio and office.  Below are some of  tips from the text. Consult the book for additional detail.

Challenges for the Designer

1.Design Problems are different from work in other fields.
2. There is no single magic bullet remedy.
3. Each designers time management problems are unique
4 Remedies must begin by understanding your own situation
5. Improving  your own time management will be a project in it’s own right.
6. The time management project must be planned.
7. A time management plan should be integrated into other projects.
8. Your self evaluation of your time management issues will be the basis for your time management project.

The Action Plan

Step 1: Create a list of time management problems
Step 2. Set Priorities: Decide which issues are the most important. They will form the basis of a plan
Step 3: Get Ready: Preparation
Decide what you need to implement the plan. ( equipment, changes to workspace,  as well as additional habits)
Step 4: Implement the Preparation
Step 5: Action plan for time management
Step 6: Select a suitable work project to integrate with your time management project
Step 7: Plan the work project
Step 8: Combine the time management and work project plans
Step 9: Prepare a schedule linking the activities for both projects
Step 10: DO IT: Implement the plan.

Keep in mind that it’s important to evaluate your unique time management challenges. It’s going to be different for everyone.

See you in the New Year!!


Time Management for Architects and Designers Challenges and Remedies, Thorbjoern Mann, W.W. Norton, New York,  2004, ISBN 0-393-73133-2