A recent Denver Egotist rant got me thinking about the balance between time management and creative passion. It's something that all creatives deal with. As you get more experience, it becomes easier to pace yourself. Some places dive into projects and don't come up for air unless they absolutely have to. Other agencies try to maintain the illusion of an 8-hour work day. Either way, it comes down to what you and your team can actually deliver. But, if you're going to do something memorable, you have to have passion.
There are different levels of passion. You can get your work done in a timely manner, do good work, and love what you do. But there is a level beyond that. A level where you completely immerse yourself in a project that has huge potential. Where good enough is not good enough. Where remarkable is the only outcome that will suffice. Where the budget and schedule are probably not enough for you to pull things off during normal work hours. This is called: a passion project.
Some things to remember if you've deemed a project passion-worthy (and assuming your doctor has given you the go ahead for passion project-related activity):
1. You must want this project to be awesome with all of your being. Actually more than awesome, we're talking blow-the-doors-off whatever you currently think is awesome.
2. Don't be a martyr. You decided to get into this insane, right-brained, no-definitive-answers industry. If you have an 'off day' and have to make up for it, it's part of the deal. So deal with it, to yourself. No one wants to hear about your self-imposed Survivorman cubicle escapades. (Unless, however, it's funny or embarrassing).
3. Don't make excuses for mediocrity. (See Rule #2.)
4. Learn the difference between urgent and important.* Your passion project is important and can potentially deliver value. That 'urgent' fifteen minute ad re-size or headline tweak is not 'important' in the big scheme of things. Just get it done efficiently and focus on the important things.
5. Intermission. If you're not being productive, get distracted. Lateral connections are made when you are not forcing yourself to concentrate. See a movie, go to the gym, get outside, meet with friends, read something unrelated, travel somewhere, etc.
6. Go better. Can your project benefit the greater good of something? Passion is contagious. If you can use it to leverage something bigger than the project itself, even better.
7. Be responsible. Don't take on too many passion projects at once.
8. Go forth and project passion.
"Clocks tick, life happens, deadlines approach. And all the while, we can decide how many seconds, minutes, and hours to spend on creativity. Our choice." – *Sam Harrison