One of the first things I ask of my Inner Circle members is to put together a calendar for the year so we can talk about what’s ahead for them and how my team and I can help.
If the year looks sparse, we need to get busy. You can’t earn more money or increase recognition without exhibitions and events on your schedule.
What’s on your calendar for the New Year?
I’m not talking about your appointment calendar. I’m talking big picture here. You can use a desk or desktop calendar for appointments. For this job, you want to get a clear overview of your year’s rhythm.
You’re looking for periods that you know will be particularly busy and others when you might be able to sneak away for a well-deserved vacation.
You also want to be aware of potential for too much overlap on your calendar. There might events you’d like to schedule, but might bump up against others that are already in place.
It’s confusing to schedule events that occur too close to one another.
It’s confusing to your fans and followers because everything looks to have the same level of importance. They don’t know which message to pay more attention to.
It’s also confusing to you because you’re promoting more than one thing at a time. You don’t know how and where to spend your energy.
There are numerous ways to plan your year so that you can envision its rhythm. Here are the two most important ones that I use.
The Wall Calendar
The framework for all of my planning is a wall calendar so that I can see the entire year at once.
I’ve shared previously that I love the Seize The Year calendar by Neu Year. Its biggest asset is that it can be displayed either vertically or horizontally.
Using dry-erase markers, I color code the calendar with these categories:
- Major events, such as Art Biz Breakthrough
- Program launches
- Program start/end dates
I encourage you to include both personal and business events on a single calendar because you have to make everything fit within the 365 days. Two calendars would mean that you’re constantly checking between the two in order to avoid double booking.
Get yourself a wall calendar if you don’t already have one.
The wall calendar isn’t enough for me. I also like to see everything on a horizontal timeline.
Remember that I’m an art historian by training. Making a lot of hand-drawn timelines is how I memorized dates and how I planned our exhibition schedule at the art museum.
I still love to see my year this way. The last few years, I’ve been plotting my year in a similar visual timeline using a spreadsheet.
Looks pretty good, huh?
Big BUT and this is important: I can’t stand spreadsheets. I spent too much time making them look pretty.
If you don’t like a tool, search for a way to do the same task that is more palatable for you. You’ll use it more frequently and effectively if you are happy on the journey.
**Note of caution: Don’t spend too much time looking for the perfect tool. Looking for the perfect tool often ends up being an excuse for not doing the work.
This year I used my new iPad Pro and fancy Apple Pencil with the Notability app. I needed the timeline to be electronic so that I could share it with people and this seemed like an easy way to get it out fast.
Tweak Your Calendar
After you have everything plotted out on your calendar and/or timeline, here are some questions to answer for tweaking the dates:
Do you have enough time in between commitments to promote?
Which items on your calendar are more important than others?
Which items on your calendar need more promotional or lead-time?
Where do you need down time or longer breaks?
How could you massage your schedule to make your year easier and more fun?
Please share how you plan your year in a comment below.