Co.Create

4 Multitasking Tips From Creative Polymath James Franco

As his latest feature hits theaters, it’s a sure bet that James Franco is working on at least 8 other projects across at least 4 platforms. Here, he shares some productivity tips.

James Franco is one of the biggest multitaskers in show business. In 2013 alone, he has promoted three films at Sundance (because any less than three would be un-Franco-like), written a presidential inauguration poem for Yahoo! News and announced a bushel full of projects--adapting a James Ellroy novel, directing and starring in the Jay Sebring biopic Beautiful People, and producing a Gucci documentary. He’s also starring in Oz: The Great and Powerful, debuting this week, and Spring Breakers, which premiers later this month.

How does one man do it all? We asked Franco for some nitty-gritty insights. His tips are simple, but when you’ve got as many balls in the air as Franco does, simple is sometimes best.

Collaborate! Collaborate! Collaborate!

If you’re coming up with ideas as constantly as Franco is, you can’t possibly do them all on your own. The solution? Enlist collaborators to help manage projects and keep you updated on their progress. This way, your project gets to see the light of day--but you don’t necessarily have to be the one dotting all the is and crossing all the ts. “I try and always collaborate, and that’s allowed me to work on a lot of things. If [a project] pops into my head and I haven’t heard about it lately, I’ll text that person and find out what the status is.”

Keep an ideas list

Just because you can’t start a project now doesn’t mean you should discard it. Keep a running list of ideas, and sooner or later the good ideas will find their way back to the drawing board. “I do have a list--it’s sort of all in my head. We have to plan certain things way in advance, like movies to get financing, especially if they’re large movies. Other things I keep in the back of my head, and they gestate there. By the time they come around, sometimes they’ve taken on a new form or have new participants--and in a lot of ways they’re maybe better because of that.”

Planners schpanners

As far as Franco is concerned, calendars and daily planners are not a prerequisite for multitasking. “I don’t have a daily planner. I find that I never use them when I get them.”

Don’t feel chained to your desk

When at home, Franco finds he does his best creative work away from desks. “I gravitate towards couches and beds.”

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10 Comments

  • gmart

    Let me summarize: By collaborate, he really means delegate. Keep a list (in your head). Don't keep a daily planner or calendar. Work on the couch.

  • Agul123

    Good advise. However we need James`s budget to keet all those collaborators managing different projects.

  • Kelly

    So without the subheadings, here's James's advice.

    Work with other people and ask them questions via txt
    Keep a list...in your head.
    Don't bother with a daily planner
    Work on the couch...or in your bed

    Thanks James. "Creative polymath" - (chortle)

  • Cindie Klein

    LOVE this. New ideas continually stream in on multiple fronts for me, I understand the challenge! Thanks for the insight, would love to hear the likes of Richard Branson--and other creator/artist/innovators on this topic. Keep us posted.