I live by lists. They’re so beautiful on the page: one item after another after another.
Whether we process each item in the order in which it appears on the list or, more likely, get around to them someday in no particular sequence, lists help us create order in our hectic lives.
The most valuable thing about making lists is that it gets tasks, projects, and ideas out of our heads and into a place where we can find them again. At least that’s the idea.
With that in mind, here’s a list of 5 lists (yep, a list of lists) that are useful to artist-entrepreneurs.
1. Your To-Do List
This is the list that you’re probably most familiar with.
Your to-do list consists of urgent or near-future items that you must accomplish. It might look like this:
- Pay bills.
- Order framing supplies.
- Write draft of newsletter.
If you’re disorganized, your lists are probably all over the place – likely on sticky notes covering your desktop or computer monitor. Not the best way to be productive.
If you’re organized, you have a single to-do list in a single place. You know where to find it and how to prioritize the items on it.
Next, you need a place to store the not-so-urgent things. This is …
Some time ago, I learned to block out days for no scheduled calls or appointments.
These “free days” are rarely free, but they allow big chunks of time for tasks such as writing and planning. They are usually Mondays and Fridays, which means my Tuesday-Thursday calendar is pretty jam-packed.
I prefer afternoon client calls to morning client calls so that I can catch up with my team in the mornings.
I leave Monday mornings for recombobulating after the weekend, and Fridays for writing and art-viewing.
How about you?
How do you organize your week for maximum productivity and inspiration in the office and studio?
Every day takes too much thought. – Gwen Meharg
Gwen left this comment in our Art Career Success System private group. I was struck by her insight because I had been reading about this at the time. “Decision fatigue” is a real phenomenon in contemporary society.
According to researchers, we make over 200 decisions per day about food alone. Just food decisions! I don’t know about you, but all of these decisions wear me out.
As an example, I spent 3 months last fall researching espresso machines – dreaming of holding the perfect cup of coffee while still in my jammies. But I could never click the button to buy.
My husband took me out of my misery. He decided on one, bought it, wrapped it, and put it under the tree. Best. Gift. Ever. No decision (on my part) was required.
Don’t get me started on making travel reservations. I can’t stand to make plane reservations or to find a hotel. What if I book “the wrong” flight or land at the wrong airport? Don’t laugh. I recently did this when I was confused about a small airport name, and it cost me a lot of extra driving time.
I contend that we’re happier when
This month I asked artist/author/coach Cynthia Morris back to the podcast to discuss a topic that comes up often with my artist-clients. See if this sounds familiar.
You have things you don’t want to do. It’s painful to even think about tackling them, but you know that you need to work through them in order to move forward.
How do you do it?
In this episode, Cynthia and I talk about how to accomplish things in your art career and business that you don’t enjoy doing.
I was particularly interested in the discussion we had about happiness v. satisfaction.
Listen in and then please leave a comment to let us know you’re listening.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could call up your genius whenever you needed it?
Hey, genius! Help me out with writing this article, please.
What would be even more amazing is if Genius would come running whenever you issued this command.
But Genius runs on its own time and has a pretty smart mouth.
My Genius lets me know who is boss:
- I’m tired. Leave me alone.
- You really should have used me when I was in better form. You know … like 6:00 a.m. That’s my power hour.
- Are you kidding me? You spend the last four hours doing diddly-squat and now you expect me to drop everything and run to your rescue?
- Hey, lady! I worked hard for you today. I’m entitled to stupid time.
Stupid time. That’s what I call the hours when my brain can’t make sense out of words or come up with a single creative idea.
I imagine Genius is taking a hike, sweating it out at hot yoga, or gulping down a green smoothie. You know, because Genius is Genius. She doesn’t need naps. She only needs to refuel.
Whatever happened to Genius, I’m left alone to endure stupid time.
And then there is someone else’s time. This becomes an issue when
You are in charge of your art career.
That means you are the person who decides what to do today, tomorrow, next week, and next month.
If you’re accustomed to a boss telling you where to focus your energy, entrepreneurship probably thumped you on the head with some snide remark like, “You want freedom? Here it is! Go decide for yourself.”
This sounded ideal until you realized how hard it was to prioritize your day, week, year, and life.
If you’re actively looking for opportunities, as you should be, there will be a time when you have more opportunities than you realistically have time for. You’ll be hit with new projects from all sides, and you think it would be lovely to involve yourself in all of them.
Wrong! You can’t take on every project that comes your way.
Intellectually, you understand this. Emotionally, you want to believe you are somehow superhuman.
The projects might be exhibitions, commissions, licensing deals, wholesale contracts teaching possibilities, separate jobs, or something else. They’re all projects that beg for your time, and they sound so exciting!
Your resolve is being tested. Some people call this interior voice a gremlin or troll. I call it the tester when I see it testing how much it can get away with. How serious is he about this other project – really? How good is he at knowing what he wants and needs?
All good entrepreneurs struggle with decisions in moments like these, especially if there is the potential for a big pay off at the end.
This is when you must ask yourself hard questions to help you answer the biggest question of all:
Should I take on this project?
Below are some of the questions I ask my clients, which you might adapt for your own self-interrogation process.
Every so often, you have to conduct a brain dump.
I hear you asking: What is a brain dump?
A brain dump is a magical process that gets everything out of your head and onto paper. And, yes, I find that paper is where it has to happen. The computer is too distracting.
You know it’s time for a brain dump when you’re overwhelmed. Your head is about to burst, your stomach is fluttering, and your chest feels tight.
You’re feeling like you can’t get all of your tasks done in the time you have, and God bless the poor person who asks you for a favor right now. Oh, boy! Will they ever get an earful!
Another sign it’s time for a brain dump is that you are unfocused – you know that you have a lot to do, but can’t decide what is the best use of your time in this moment.
Brain dump to the rescue!
Here are the 6 steps I recommend for the process.
Step 1: Prepare For Your Brain Dump
I like to begin tasks with focused intention and name the task: Now, I am sitting down to get whatever is in my head onto this piece of paper. Sometimes I even
Here’s a question that my clients know is coming: By when?
By when will you send that email?
By when will you make that call?
By when will you send your application?
When I ask clients for a deadline on a task – like sending an email or making a phone call – they are most likely to say, “I’ll do that by the end of next week.”
Fair enough. They’re allowed to set their own deadlines, and it’s my job to push them a little because I know they are capable of more.
My response, when appropriate, is: “Why don’t you do it as soon as we get off of this call? Now seems like the right time to take care of it.”
Gulp. I can “hear” the hesitation in the brief moment of silence.
Hmmm. It seemed like such a good idea until I suggested immediate action.
How much time do the lessons take? How much time should I spend on social media
? How much time on marketing vs. making art?
©2013 John Salvest, Forever. Secondhand romance novels on metal armature. Courtesy of the artist and Morgan Lehman Gallery.
These are questions I’m often asked to which there are no easy answers (except maybe the last one, and I take a stab at that below).
Everyone wants to know “how much time?” because time is sacred, and we should be choosy with how we spend our time.
There is a better question than “How much time?” Ask yourself: How much time and effort am I willing to invest?
The key word is “willing.”
When you’re committed, you don’t care how much time something takes. [Tweet this]
Are you like a lot of my clients? You want to do/try it all. You’d like to be everywhere but time runs out.
Lack of time is the number one anxiety for most of my clients. It’s not fear of rejection or failure or even potential criticism. It’s there’s not enough time in the day to do it all.
Like you, I’ve been overwhelmed with possibilities for business development and strategy.
Just three years ago, I remember sitting down and crying to my husband that I couldn’t work any harder. If I wanted to increase my impact in the world, I would have to work smarter. That’s when I hired a serious business coach and got back on track.
Here’s what I’ve learned about dealing with overwhelm and a seeming lack of time.
1. The important stuff always gets done.
I don’t know how, but I know why the important stuff always gets done. It gets done because it’s important! I recognize its value and somehow manage to make it happen.
Knowing this truth is a relief.
2. There is no such thing as time management.
You can’t manage time. The clocks keep ticking and the sun continues to rise and set. There’s not much we can do about that.
But we can manage ourselves. Here are a few ideas for doing this: