A graphic artist approached me recently to ask me for ideas on how she could improve her productivity. We talked about some of the challenges she faces in doing business. One of those challenges is in how she feels when she finishes working on a project. Since each project requires her total concentration, she ends up fairly worn out after just a couple hours on a project… and she finds that the last half hour of work on that project doesn't produce nearly the quality as the first hour. If she has more than one project to work on each day (which she usually does) she is exhausted half way through her day.

We came up with a workable plan that puts food on her table without taxing her creative side too much. If your business requires the same intense concentration — like if you're a writer, commercial artist, website designer, etc., this might work for you, too:

Write out the projects that you need to work on for the day as well as a list of things that you would like to do for fun. Then, prioritize your “must do” list with odd numbers: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, etc. Next, prioritize your “want to do” list with even numbers: 2, 4, 6, 8, etc.

Spend just one hour on each item in the odd number list and an hour or less on each item in the even number list. Now you have an order to do things that requires a concentrated burst of creativity or energy, then something relaxing to recuperate… then another concentrated burst again. It gives you time to rest between the demanding tasks.

It worked for my graphic artist friend; perhaps it can work for you?