Intuitive working

Intuitive working

Finding balance in working intuitively rather than pushing myself to do tasks you don’t want to do


Illustrations by Iryna Korshak

Another week another list of tasks. I start out every week with the best of intentions, with a day by day plan of what I want to achieve. Every day I would look at my list and feel overwhelmed by the tasks I didn’t want to do so would just procrastinate doing anything, leading to frustration when I wasn’t making as much progress as I wanted to. I tried every solution – doing an hour by hour plan of my task list and being strict with not going to sleep until everything was ticked off. This was draining and massively quelled my creativity.

As a creative, I often feel inspired to do just get immersed in a task and see where it goes. Some days I could spend all day writing, other days it seems like a bore.

If I don’t feel like doing it, it will take me 2x longer. Boxing myself in with personal progression tasks to try and schedule ‘wanting to’ write, research or create case studies at specific times just wasn’t working.

After opening up my schedule to allow me to get carried away with tasks and let others take a back seat, that I found myself enjoying things a lot more. I researched more, read more and wrote more which circled back to being able to provide better services and design work to my clients.

I realised that this was a form of intuitive working. This seems to be something which hasn’t so much been researched or documented which is quite interesting in itself. Whilst ‘intuitive eating’ is a buzz of resources and articles, ‘intuitive working’ not so. One of the main people speaking about this method is creative coach, Jen Carrington, who credits her productivity, energy and creativity to intuitive working.

“A new way of working in your business that leans into your strengths and creativity, instead of working against them.”

Jen Carrington

In reading through Jen’s website and posts, her experiences seem very similar to my own; having gone through feelings of exhaustion, stress and overwhelmed of workload and expectation within a creative role. Indeed, Jen outlines her workalike balance pre-intuitive working to be the following:

  1. Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted in business
  2. Working more than you’d like to be each week, but you still feel like you’re not actually getting everything done
  3. Unsure what you want from your creative work and life, you just know you don’t want this
  4. You know what kind of creative life you want to be living, you just don’t think it’s possible with the business you’ve built so far
  5. Feeling guilty for wanting more – why being able to be your own boss (even if you’re stressed, exhausted, and overworked but underutilised) enough?

One of the major factors for me was feeling content in my routine as a business owner – no longer worrying whether or not I’m working hard enough, or feeling distracted or disengaged with a project. By no longer trying to fight against our natural ebb and flow of processes, I’ve found I am led to more productivity and high quality work along the way.

Probably my favourite benefit of intuitive working is the fact that because I don’t feel like I’m fighting against my work, I find it much more enjoyable. My work is now an extension of my life, which fits in around whatever schedule I want. By listening to your intuition, you can cut out all the things that don’t truly matter and instead stay focused on your most important work along the way.

Intuitive working in the workplace

Granted, this is somewhat of a luxury that those who are self employed can often explore, whereas those working in salaried jobs are more constricted on. As someone who has a part time salary job, at an agency where I head up most design decisions and processes, I definitely recognise the mental drain from trying to force productivity at specific times in the day – 9-5. In fact, I try to schedule my most creative work for 11pm-2am as this is when I seem to get the most done. This schedule doesn’t really jive with typical working hours.

It’d be a lie to say that I’ve found a complete solution to this conundrum, however there are a few things I’m doing to help me still work fairly intuitively whilst being allotted set working hours:

  1. Getting the ‘little tasks’ done first in the day so that it clears up my schedule to get my head stuck in to bigger problems
  2. Trying not to be as ‘on demand’ for people asking to just send something over or just make a quick amend, and instead bulking these together
  3. Being realistic with quoting timelines to allow for not feeling inspired to work on a specific project
  4. Having a lot of projects on the go so that I can bounce between different ones depending on what kind of challenge I feel like solving
  5. Leaving time to get carried away with researching
  6. Doing the most creative work for overtime


Some people need to have a tight, consistent schedule in order to get things done and feel like they’re making progress. But intuitive working offers a more natural workflow, which allows for less guilt and gives permission for you to feel more engaged with different projects at different times.



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