One of my superpowers is that even though I am intensely creative, I have a “left brain” that won’t quit. In fact, I often feel like I’m a walking juxtaposition — a designer who loves to budget, a writer who loves systems and structure, a career-driven boss who needs time to draw cartoons for no reason. And over the last three years of my journey as the co-founder of my digital marketing agency, Prim’d Marketing, I have often fought with myself as I try to find balance between these two sides. Or, rather, I have always felt a subtle pressure to be a little more self-contained, a little more “this” or “that.”
It has only been recently that I realized that my superpower is both. Part of my biggest strength is being the designer, but the other part is also being the one to run the numbers and analyze the outcomes. When it comes to my “left brain,” it’s not that my analytic side wants to control everything or just run the numbers for the sake of linear thinking; I have simply learned that my “left brain” is in service to my creative ambitions. My “left brain” is the thing that creates the structure for my “right brain” to play inside of. When it comes to approaching new projects or adding new things to my plate, I’ve learned I only have three finite or limited resources: my time (truly finite), my money (not limitless), and my energy (absolutely limited).
Over years of being the “left brained” and “right brained” creative, I have learned that the best skills I can have in my boss toolkit are effective ways to manage my time, my money, and my energy. In concrete terms, that translates to my calendar, my budget, and my priority list.
I didn’t always calendar everything in my life — I didn’t like the way it made me feel. I thought it made me constrained, over scheduled, and seriously hindered my ability to be creative. But as my ambitions have grown for my life and my business, I’ve actually come to find relief in a fairly scheduled day. I hadn’t realized how much I used to lie in bed, mind racing about all the things that had to happen the next day. It would give me a feeling of grasping, reaching, anxiety. But once I got comfortable with my calendar, I worry less. I can look at the calendar and I know exactly what I should be spending my time doing to be most effective for my life, my business, or my passions.
This is a big one for me — as I mentioned in my last post, I used to have some seriously negative stories about money. Part of the way that I came to a kinder relationship with money was devoting some serious time to understanding how to manage it. I started using You Need A Budget, which was one of the first systems that allowed me to see and make choices around what I wanted to do with my money and my life, versus how I was actually spending. Some really amazing things started happening when I started seeing trends in the way my money habits were out of alignment with my wants for my life. I finally stopped spending that money. And it was super easy because I was clear on what I really wanted, and having a budget helped me know where to allocate my finite resources to support those ambitions or dreams.
This one of the three was actually (and still is sometimes) the hardest one to get clear on. Because really, your priority list is actually more important than your calendar or your budget. Or, rather, it informs both your calendar and your budget. Getting clear on what you want — and how you can allocate mental and emotional energy either toward that thing, or away from things that don’t support those visions — is probably one of the most impactful things a person can do for themselves. Over at Prim’d Marketing, we talk a lot about values, because we believe that when you know who you are and what your passion is, it can drive either a vibrant life or a vibrant brand. So after years of being in the trenches as a “Type-A Creative,” as I call myself, these are the tools that have made the biggest impact in creating the work and life I really want.