Are you in charge of your workflow?

In his talk to the World Domination Summit, Behance Founder/CEO Scott Belsky encouraged us to stop reacting and start pro-acting (my word) in order to protect our ideas and make them happen.

When we react, we are inviting others to prioritize our time. We allow others to steal our attention away from our big ideas.

When we are proactive, we take charge of making our ideas happen.

I hope you’re an Art Biz Blog reader because you want to take charge.

Scott Belsky at the World Domination Summit

Scott Belsky speaking at the World Domination Summit. Photo courtesy Armosa Studios.

Overcome Reactionary Workflow

I won’t pretend that this is going to be easy. You might have a lot of habits to break and new ones to form. But the results will be worth it.

If you’re fully committed to an art career, you will be well served by removing distractions.

First, turn off all of your notifications. ALL of them. Unless you are waiting on an emergency, you do not need to be notified of messages.

ALL notifications include email, Twitter mentions, Facebook posts, and text messages. These are messages that are pushed at you.

Even the phone can be an interruption. You decide when you answer the phone. I admit that my phone message says “For faster results, send me an email.”

I’d love to be able to talk to everyone who wants to chat, but I just can’t. And I really will respond more quickly (and personally) to an email.

Next, schedule processing time.

Just because you’re not reacting to these interruptions doesn’t mean they’ll go away. You still have to respond to them, and you can do that when your schedule allows.

If you work best in the studio from 8am to noon, you should not be checking email or responding to Facebook posts during this time.

If your writing is at its most brilliant from 1 to 3 pm, you shouldn’t be looking at Twitter streams or texting your kids at college during this time.

You can pull the information when you are open and available to receive it most fully – when you’re ready to process.

Note that there is the difference between checking (looking and leaving for later) and processing (from start to finish).

Are You In Charge?

Be sensible. I know this is tough.

We have all developed a lot bad habits since the dawn of email and social media. But we are in charge.

YOU are in charge. Or are you?

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19 comments to Are you in charge of your workflow?

  • I am in charge! Thanks for the motivation :)

  • Wise advice, Allyson. Most of the time I stick to a routine of spending from 8am to 9am on the computer, followed by 2 hours of painting. Back on the computer late afternoon for another hour, unless I am working on editing photos, a blog, or creating cards/calendars. Then I will be on for the remainder of the day. I do try to paint for at least two hours twice a day. As I am a fast worker and my medium is acrylics, this works for me. I am able to produce one or two finished works per week.

  • Good reminder! I keep telling myself I should do this but it is HARD. But I AM in charge.

    So now I am getting off my computer!!!

  • This is so true. I am amazed at the number of people who react instantly to beeps and texts on their phone even interrupting face-to-face conversations. Whenever my artist clients complain about not enough time, or about not being able to focus, I jump up and down about managing distractions! I am a big fan of batching tasks so that you aren’t jumping endlessly from thing to thing. That jumping is what all those notification chimes have taught us. A hard habit to break that pays off in spades.

  • Alyson, the timing of your post is amazing to me. Earlier this morning, before I read your post, I had an epiphany involving reacting vs. creating. They are two very different sides of a powerful coin – the words are almost identical, but the location of the “c” matters. And really, one could take that a step further…what are we “c”ing/seeing? Are we seeing and acting on our vision, or are we seeing and acting on the distractions from that vision?

    Thanks so much for the insight and the reinforcement!

    Now, off to create…

  • Jim

    Several weeks ago it dawned on me that the computer was one of the reasons why I wasn’t producing as much as I wished. I now have a sign that sits on my keyboard that says, “No Computer Until Shop Work Completed”.

    My production has doubled!

  • It was years ago that I started keeping my phone on silent all the time, and it is often in my bag or on a table away from where I work because I felt that the intrusion was too distracting for all these reasons. I am currently working on my frequent page refresh on Facebook. Going a whole day leaves a lot of catching up to do, but thanks for the reminder to be proactive. If it’s not working for me and my art business, then I’m the one that has to make the changes! You are absolutely right that it is painfully simple sometimes! All of this correlates into my personal life as well with maintaining healthy boundaries, accepting that I can’t always be there when ‘they’ want, knowing better what I can/not do and what my limitations are, etc. Life is art for me, truly!

  • I am usually pretty good with quick checking of my phone just to see who called or messaged. I am not easily distracted by things like noise, people talking, tv blaring…it is all background noise or white noise when I’m painting. I think I dislike silence. My biggest problem is getting off the computer in the morning. I usually sit with a cup of coffee until I feel reasonably human. There’s no way i could even hold a brush till I’ve been up about an hour and a half. But I find that I have been spending at least 2 hours on the computer doing nothing important after I check my emails, website, and linkedin, tweeter, and other sites where my artwork is displayed. I get lost online. I vow from this day on I will set an alarm and be off that computer in an hour and a half, at 8:30am. I’m sure I can find something useful to do until I am ready to paint. Thanks Alyson. Hey, will you call me every morning at 8:30? JUST KIDDING.

    • Ha!

      I hear ya on the time in the morning. I can’t write until I’m up at least that long as well. So I don’t think of it as wasted time in the morning. I think of it as warm up. The key is to know when to stop warming up.

  • Wonderful useful reminder post here, Alyson. One must be CAUSE, not EFFECT. One must decide what exactly to be effect of, not randomly as you so rightly put it.
    Thank you. Like…..whose life is it anyway? Mine or theirs?

  • Great post, Alyson! While I think your advice here applies to almost any profession, I think it is even more critical for creatives to get blocks of uninterrupted time for their art.

    If you find that a scheduled workflow works best for you that is great. If your muse shows up at different times, it may be better to have some flexibility and cater to your creative streaks. You still need to work in blocks of time, and turn off the potential distractions (of which there are many). In the end, an artist’s creative work has to be the core focus for long term success.

    Thanks for the reminder, it’s good for artist’s reps too!

  • One thing I’ve found helpful is having most of my art newsletters automatically transferred to a separate file to read later. They bypass my regular inbox so I’m less distracted during the day. I haven’t done this yet to yours, however! Perhaps because yours helps me stay on track!

    • Karen: Glad to know this works for you. I found I wasn’t reading newsletters that went into a file. Are you going back and reading them?

      Instead, I work to “process email” in batches.

      Thanks for making the Art Biz Insider and exception!

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