Sunday Mailbag: Time Management?

March 6th, 2016 | Posted in Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: My question is how do you manage your time between the multiple projects, appearances, gigs, marketing, etc.? I’ve revived my caricature business and I’m trying my best to keep on top of these things myself and learning what I can and putting into practice what works so I would love to hear some ideas of your “time management” (more like self-management).

A: For starters, I’d advise NOT writing on your blog when you have a pile of work sitting on the drawing board behind you!

Seriously, there are not that many secrets to managing your time (something I am actually not that great at) but there are a few things I do to help me stay on task.

  1. Maintain your priorities-You must remember what is most important/urgent and concentrate on that. If something else can wait, do not get sidetracked doing that something else. I find making a physical list works pretty well in keeping your priorities straight. Write it out and post it in front of whatever you find is your biggest distraction… like your Xbox. I easily get distracted doing some small little task that could have easily waited in favor of the big job that is still unfinished on the board. Anything at the top of that list needs to be done before things below it.
  2. Set goals… with rewards– Come up with short term, realistic goals and a reward for after that goal is met. Deny yourself whatever that reward is until you meet your goal. It might be as simple as eating lunch. You set a goal of penciling out some project before you get to go have lunch, and then don’t eat until you get it done. Just make sure they are realistic goals. The idea here is not to whip yourself into getting 4 hours worth of work done in only two hours, the idea is to keep yourself on task with an attainable goal. That goal should be comfortably reachable, but only if you don’t procrastinate or let yourself get sidetracked. Also short term ones work best. Saying you will have this project done in 5 days is too far off… you end up just thinking you can burn a little extra midnight oil to still hit that goal and then you start procrastinating. Smaller goals, like two or three a day, work better to stay moving forward.
  3. Take breathers- You need breaks to stay fresh and not get burned out. Make a breather one of your rewards… you can go see “Deadpool” again as soon as you get that page inked.
  4. Be realistic with your time estimates– If you convince yourself you can just squeeze two days worth of work into one day so you can binge watch “House of Cards”, you will find yourself in trouble. Don’t pretend you can get more done than humanly possible in a shorter time to justify putting things off.

The bottom line is you have to understand your limitations, and set realistic goals. That includes not taking on more than you can handle.

Thanks to Clay Taylor for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!



  1. Clay Taylor says:

    Thanks, Tom. I’ll certainly take this advice.


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