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Time Management for Creative People – Free E-book

Writing my own poetry and books, and coaching hundreds of creative professionals over the years has taught me a lot about what it takes to get original work done in the midst of the demands and distractions of the 21st century workplace.

I’ve boiled down what I’ve learned into a free ebook, Time Management for Creative People, which you are welcome to download and share with your friends and contacts.

Time Management for Creative People

The ebook has been downloaded over 100,000 times, and I’ve received enthusiastic feedback from people all over the world who tell me it’s transformed their working habits and helped them achieve their artistic and professional goals.

It’s full of practical advice for creatives, including:

  • Finding the method in your creative madness
  • Identifying and prioritising your most important work
  • Getting in the right state of mind for focused work
  • How to minimise interruptions and distractions
  • Managing e-mail effectively
  • How to remember — and fulfil — all your important commitments

“A really well done 29-page download that provides practical time management and productivity tips tailored specifically for those performing creative work.'”
Brian Clark, Copyblogger

“Even if you don’t consider yourself a creative person, the ebook is chocked full of useful tips.”
Kyle Potts, Lifehacker

Click here to download your copy of the ebook.

(Ebook licence details here. N.B. the images are licensed from istockphoto, so you should obtain a licence from them if you want to use them in other contexts)

A big thank you to Cat Wentworth and Neil Tortorella for prompting me to write the material and hosting it as a series on Business of Design Online.

Mark McGuinness


  1. Mark, thanks for providing what looks to be a great resource. I’m told that when you give you receive back 100 fold. I’m hoping that happens to you. Once I see what you share, I hope to allude to it in my blog.

    Thanks ever so much.

  2. Aloha Mark, Cat sent me to check out your e-book and meet you, and I grabbed the download – anxious to read it! At first glance it looks like you did an exceptional job, and as Robyn says, mahalo – thank you for sharing your coaching with us. I am pretty familiar with GTD, so what I am more interested in is reading how you have blended it with the creative habit inspiration you gained from Twyla Tharp and your own expertise in the creative arts.

    Ho‘ohana: Continue your intentional good work.

  3. Hi Robyn, nice to see you! Thanks for the lovely thoughts. I look forward to hearing what you make of it.

    Aloha Rosa! Welcome. Yes I’ve done my best to blend GTD and other time management approaches with the creative process and creative working habits. I have to say Managing with Aloha sounds great fun! Do you use Huna principles in your work?

  4. I do share many of the beliefs of Huna Mark, but I consider myself a business coach whereas in my understanding of it, Huna is devoted to the art and science of healing and spiritual development. My mission with Managing with Aloha is to reinvent the workplace value by value, and I wrote my book and constructed my philosophy to give managers and leaders the tools they can use in value alignment, strengths management, and creating better organizational cultures – workplaces that people feel they thrive in. Returning to Huna, we certainly share strong belief in the greatly underestimated power of aloha! I have a client who calls Managing with Aloha a “Hawaiian sensibility for great work” and I love the description; I’m intent on living up to that!

    Mahalo for asking Mark :) Tried to minimize the horn-tooting, but hard to do – I love my work. As do you – I can tell just from reading your blog since leaving my first comment! You have done a wonderful job here; I am particularly impressed with the pages you offer in your sidebar navigation. I have subscribed so I can continue to learn more from you.

  5. Mark: Nice resource and i think the ebook is wonderful. Releasing it under CC is also a thing i hope more people become accustom to do.

  6. Rosa – thanks for sharing, your enthusiasm for your work shines off the screen (and enthusiasm is highly valued round here). I’m glad you like the sidebar stuff – I’m going to add some more when I (ahem) find the time.

    Bengt – thanks, yes I want to spread the word hence the CC.

  7. Mark,

    Your series was such a hit. And not just with our readers as I loved going through it each week.

    And the additional plus, getting 14,000 Unique Visitors in November alone, was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

    Thank you SO much for putting all this work into your series and ebook.


  8. Hi Mark … this looks really helpful. The e-book’s opening paragraphs describe my inner world most days.

    The “creativity requires order” message has come to me from a number of places recently.


  9. Thank you Mark, I am a pretty disorganized person and this will surely be of help.
    Your effort is very much appreciated.

  10. Mark – Thanks for this. Back after the read-through…

  11. I found you, and this great eblook, through Copyblogger and I’m glad I did. I’ve heard the old “email inbox overload” strategies numerous times but you’ve broken it down in a manner that seems manageable.

    Great site; looking forward to reading you more often now that I’ve signed up for a feed!

  12. Cat – my pleasure, thanks for having me as a guest! Great news about the traffic.

    Richard – glad to hear it touched a chord for you. Sounds like the universe is trying to tell you something!

    Nela – nice to see you again, I hope it helps with the organisation. But don’t tidy up your pictures too much! There’s a time and a place for chaos after all :-)

    Robert – ditto, great to see you again. Keep the poems coming! One day I think it will be normal for poets to use the internet the way you do, you should get the credit as a trailblazer.

    Erin – welcome! LOVE your blog title. And thanks for the great write-up in your post.

  13. I just like to say thanks for the free ebook. I haven’t read it yet (I will!), but I love the fact that you provide it as a free ebook under the CC license.

  14. I just discovered iGTD a few days ago for the first time. Stumbling upon the application introduced me to GTD of which I have now done a good bit of reading about in a couple days time. Through that research, I came across your ebook which had some great suggestions. Until you pointed it out, I didn’t realize how much of a slave to constantly incoming email I had become. Doing it tomorrow is brilliant! Thanks for compiling some resources and sharing it with heartfelt advice.

  15. I love your book. It should definitely help put my writing more on track. I’m realizing now that instead of writing at the times I’m most productive I’m doing other things. And that instead of being where I’m most productive (outside) I tend to stay in. I did read Steve Pavlina’s ideas for getting up a coupla days or so ago and am trying to get myself up at a reasonable hour or so and then just bed whenever I get tired. We’ll see how that goes.

    Anyway, I’m glad Lifehacker linked to you, I shall add you to my RSS feed and my blog will most definitely give you a mention. Take care.

  16. Apologies for the delay in replying – I’ve been away on business and comments and e-mails have been piling up, so this week ‘do it tomorrow’ has turned into ‘do it at the weekend’!

    1st Steve – my pleasure!

    2nd Steve – I’m glad it’s helping you overcome the tyranny of e-mail. I didn’t realise how much it was affecting me until I read Mark Forster’s book.

    Ariel – thanks, yes it’s easy to overlook the daily rhythms of concentration and energy, it made a big difference to me when I started aligning them with my work patterns. All the best with your writing

  17. I finally finished reading your great e-book and want to say many thanks for your fabulous work. Your e-book is for sure an excellent book to help me more organized. And I would like to introduce your book to more people in my blog.

    Happy new year!

  18. Sophia – thanks for the comment and the great write-up on your blog, Happy New Year!

  19. This was a wonderful book!! Thank you so much for all the helpful hints and tangible ‘how to’s.’ I can’t wait to begin implementing them!

  20. Thanks Teri, glad you found it helpful. Good luck!

  21. Great book. Thank you!

  22. My pleasure!

  23. I now must mange to find the time to read it and also spread the word as well !

  24. I love the aloha content – I was fortunate enough to train in Hawaii and eventually got married there. Huna is part of me, as it seems to touch people at a very deep level, or they simply pass it by. Never really any fence sitters.

  25. Hey Mark!!
    Thank you for giving a away such a great ressource!! :-)
    I know you are blessed for giving away so valuable information – what goes around – comes around – so be prepared for some reeeeeeeeally good stuff in your life!!! :-))

    Many many greetings and thanks again!!!


  26. Andre – thanks! very nice of you to say so.

  27. It’s absolutely fortuitous that I noticed the mention of your website on Copyblogger today. As a writer and photographer who currently needs to balance a 9-5 with my real life, I’m hopeful that you will have some very valuable advice. Will read TMCP this weekend and post on my blog for next week.

  28. Hi Caryn – I look forward to hearing how you get on!

  29. have you this book i,n frenchc translation.

  30. Dear Mark,
    Thanks a billion.I ‘bumped’ into this as I was just letting what flows into my way while surfing for ideas. Great to know that there are many people like you out there giving and giving!
    Love and Laughter,

  31. Hi Mark,

    Thank you for the book about time management for creative people. I have been telling myself (and others as well) that I would start writing my own stories, fictional and non-fictional, and that I would do it as soon as ….. I wouldn’t have assignments and commitments to clients, my kids would be older, etc. Well, you know the drill.

    Your book hit home. I realise that I have to start making it happen if want it to happen. The first solution, starting to organise things sounded so familiair and brought me back to when my second child was born. Within 3 weeks after his birth my partner and I realised that if we wanted to have a relaxed and inspiring weekend we had to start organising it. I remember feeling a bit awkward at first but that it soon gave what we wanted. Why didn’t I think of that before when it comes to my current business(es) and why did I forget about those habits?

    Thanks for reminding me and for sharing the other great tips.


  32. Adawa – sorry, the book has been translated into French as yet.

    LYA – thanks, glad you liked it.

    Karin — glad it provided a useful reminder! I like your analogy with the baby and your weekend — sometimes we have to prioritise and organise things that are personally important, even if it feels a little odd to approach them that way.

  33. Thank you for the book about time management for creative people

  34. c très interessant ce livre

  35. Thank you. This and your series on organizing to overcome creative blocks address perennial problems for me. Looking forward to an in-depth read.

  36. My pleasure! Enjoy.

  37. Mark, as I said in response to your comment on my blog, I rarely recommend books. But your e-book contains so much fantastic advice and inspiration for those of us who struggle with time management that I wanted to let other creative people know about it! Thanks for offering it here. I’m sure it’s helped many people lead more creative lives!

    ~Sandy Ackers

  38. Thank you for the free ebook and your time in creating it. I’ll be giving this a read.

  39. Dear Mark:
    I am an attorney in the United States. I have read GTD and Do It Tomorrow. Your article synthesized the ideas in both books to make them more practical and useful to me. The combination of the two systems, brilliantly set forth in your ebook, has turned on a light bulb for me. The book combined the two systems in a way that has reminded me of the adage 1 + 1 = 3.
    Keep up the GREAT work.
    Marshall Spradling

  40. Thanks for the tips! I’m sure they will help!

    Thanks Again,

  41. Thank you Mark,
    I am a pretty much helpful and this will surely be of great changes for me.
    Your effort is very much appreciated.

  42. Mark,
    Thanks for the free download i will read it if i can find the time. (Lol) Just jokeing I will read it today i am always looking for new ideas.

  43. Trakonor says:

    Hi Mark,

    thank you very much for this ebook.
    Even as a non-creative non-freelance worker time management can be a very demanding task. It is great to see that some of my self-developed habits are what you have experienced to be ‘good pratices’ and it is even better to get ideas on how to improve my daily business (I definately like the buckets idea and “Do it tomorrow”; I will see how they work out for me).
    Just in case you are interested: I found your site when flipping through some articles on deskmag.com. They had some recommendations on ebooks lately and your book was one of them.
    Again, thank you very much for sharing your experiences!

  44. Thanks for offering it here. I’m sure it’s helped many people lead more creative lives!

  45. Thanks for the book. Hopefully will help me with the creative types I work with!

  46. Please What font did you use in the e-book. I like it.

  47. I searched for a free time management ebook on purpose in hopes of redirecting my focus and finally achieving things that my procrastination denied me. My attitude towards time is quite messed up and I thrive on rush jobs. In college, if we were given a project for submission in two weeks, my mind would be empty until a day away from deadline date. I am always assessing what could be wrong: my brain or my attitude. I know this will help me become as successful as what I saw myself five years ago. Thanks in advance!

  48. thanks a lot, I want to read this ebook and learn something useful !

  49. Time to read! Really thanks for share this utilities books


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