I’ve been sitting at my keyboard for three hours – typing, deleting, retyping and getting nowhere. Can you relate? Seriously, it’s a struggle being a creative genius! Well, maybe not a genius, but a creative thinker and creative maker. There are so many things I want to share with you about the crochet business, about business in general, about creating, about time management and about productivity….and customer service, and designing, and self-care, and, and, and….did you just hear my brain explode? Welcome to my world. The chaos of the last three hours has helped me recognize that I need to prioritize daily tasks or stay stuck in this crazy, creative paralysis.

Woman looking thoughtfully at sticky notes on a wall. Text reads: Prioritize tasks and overcome creative paralysis.

How about you?

When You Want to do All the Things

As a handmade business owner and creative, it’s pretty common for me to get overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done and all of the ideas rolling around in my head. I spent yesterday designing. I created three new patterns – yay! However, the process opened some sort of creative floodgate that’s been closed for months. Now, I can’t stop the ideas from coming. I want to do everything RIGHT NOW. Instead, I’m stuck doing nothing – blocked.  Have you ever felt that way?

There is so much to do when you’re a small business owner and managing it all can be overwhelming – especially as the holiday season approaches. Without a plan, you are drained of energy, time and, ultimately, creativity. So, what to do when the floods roll in?

Ironically, focusing on some left-brained activity will help open you up to creativity again…which means progress in your business. To help, let’s take a look at the Eisenhower Method of determining what to do next.

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The Eisenhower Method

President Eisenhower is quoted as saying, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” This has led to the quadrant method of determining priorities.

Diagram of the Eisenhower Method

The whole goal of this method is to clarify what needs to be tackled next. By eliminating the noise and mental clutter, your mind is free to move forward with the tasks of the day and, then, you can let the creativity flow. Each quadrant has a priority assigned to it 1 – 4.

  1. Priority 1 tasks are both urgent and important.
  2. Priority 2 tasks are important but not urgent.
  3. Priority 3 tasks are urgent but not important
  4. Priority 4 tasks are neither urgent nor important.

React or Respond

In the counseling world, we describe our methods of dealing with different situations as “reactive” or “responsive.”

Reactions are instant, unconscious ways of dealing with the immediate circumstance. They happen in the moment without thought or consideration of long-term effects. Reactions are often stress-based coping strategies.

Responses, in contrast, come slowly. When we respond, we consider our goals, values and the long-term consequences of our actions.

Reactions feel stressful, rushed, and unplanned. Responses come from a place of calm and empowerment.

Our goal in using the Eisenhower method is to respond to the stresses and demands of the day rather than react to them.

Example from My Day

When I map out my daily goals and tasks for today and this week, I can develop a game plan. This is what my Eisenhower matrix looks like today:

My own version of the Eisenhower Method for creatives
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OK…taking a deep breath. This helped a lot.

Let’s dive in.

Quadrant 1: There is only 1 thing in my important/urgent box…and I’m doing it now. It’s my Monday Must task. Aside from that, everything else is gravy. That takes a lot of pressure off!

Quadrant 2: All of these things are important and need to get done this week, but they don’t have to be done this minute or, even, today. I will put these on my to-do list with a goal date and then schedule onto my calendar for completion.

Quadrant 3: These things take time and they need to be done today. However, (a) I could find someone else to complete these tasks or (b) they can wait until after I finish my Priority 1 task. Lest you think that blog comments and stats are not, truly, important, I put them in this box because they aren’t critical tasks. Your priorities may vary. As far as cleaning the studio goes, it may not seem urgent, but you can’t see the studio right now and it’s staring me in the face!

Quadrant 4: These are the things that suck my energy and waste time. I get so bogged down on social media that I can lose an hour or two in the blink of an eye. I have to shut down Facebook if I’m going to be productive. The other tasks will be deleted or delegated based on necessity. I’m so thankful that my husband will handle the household tasks while I blog and crochet!

After looking at my tasks in this light, I feel so much more able to move forward. See, I’m almost done with this post!

A top view photo of a woman holding a pen on her lips with a planner on her desk

General Tips to Prioritize Daily Tasks

  1. Complete the tasks in quadrant 1 first – preferably just after your first cup of coffee for the day. I know these may not be the most fun-filled tasks of the day, but getting them off your plate will open you up to flow more easily and creatively.
  2. Spend most of your time focused on the tasks in quadrants 1 and 2…these are the tasks that will advance your business and help you make progress with your goals and vision.
  3. Create a timeline and completion date for items in quadrant 2…otherwise, you might just put them off forever, thereby stifling business goals.
  4. If you don’t already have an assistant, consider who might be able to take over the non-important/urgent tasks. Hire a college student or VA, teach your kids/husband to help or schedule a Quadrant 3 hour into your day so that these items get accomplished without impeding more important tasks.
  5. Spend very little time on quadrant 4 tasks – either delegate them, delete them, or save them until the very end of the day when you’ve accomplished all other important and urgent tasks. Don’t let these tasks suck the energy out of you and keep your perspective about them

Ultimately, if you can rationalize and prioritize your daily to-dos, you will be able to focus on creating a business you love rather than a business that sucks your energy and joy away. Creative paralysis doesn’t have to be permanent. This simple tool can help you lighten the load and get on to doing what you love…making beautiful things!

You’ve got this!

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  1. This was just the post I needed to stumble upon today!! Been in this same creative paralysis for a whole year and it has gotten me nowhere. Thank you!

    1. Michelle, I’m so glad you found the post and that it was helpful! That creative paralysis is so tough. I hope you’ve got some strategies, now, for moving forward. I hope you’ll stick around and share your story with us as you continue this journey!

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