Monday, July 12, 2021

Time management for artists

Time Management for Artists

Like everyone, I never seem to have enough time to do all the things I want to do. So I’ve come up with a Time Management checklist for myself so see if I can’t just squeeze a little more juice out of those 24 hours!!

1. I definitely have to have a diary/planner/appointment book. This is especially helpful for combining appointments and errands since I notice that leaving home even for something as small as picking up more supplies somehow seems to waste a whole morning. If I can combine my art supplies, office supplies, shipping, library and dentist appointments etc into one journey....then I’ve saved 4 mornings!

2. I like to plan out the next day the night before – a nice to do list with items ripe for crossing off! I used to write it out at breakfast time but found I was waking up the night before thinking oh! I must remember to do so and so, and thus, and such and the whirling mind would lead to a whirling bod, wakefulness, finally dropping off to sleep just before dawn, sleeping in and wasting half a morning! Whereas now I can just drop off into dreamland knowing that the next day is taken care of.

3. Like a lot of people, I’m great at displacement activity – if there’s something I don’t want to do I fritter away time on inconsequentials while I work up to the Dreaded Deed! So now I put the thing I least want to do as Number One on the to do list, once that’s done and checked off, the rest of the day’s tasks seem easy by comparison. Checking off items on the to do list is also very satisfying.

4. I’m very aware of Initial Inertia – I used to drive an old Rover 75 (1948!); it took about a gallon of gas to get it moving, but once it was rolling it was a great ride – very stately!! So I’ve found that if I can just make myself do that very First Step, I’ll often get rolling along quite nicely (not necessarily stately!). When making a quilt I outline the quilt I’m going to make on the design wall with ripped off selvedges - just those first four lines: the top, bottom and sides...with an empty middle hoping to be filled! If painting, I'll lay out the paper, the inspiration, the value sketch, paints brushes etc….

if it’s a phone call I don’t want to make, I've discovered that saying to myself:"all you have to do is look up the phone number"...somehow gets me over that inertia.

5. I also try to notice where I’m losing time each day– which is one reason why, when quilt making, I like to plan out a color scheme and have all my fabric pulled from the outset. I used to start with a couple of pieces then hunt through the stash for a third and so on, creating a veritable tornado of fabric by I was done. Then it all has to be folded and put away – another time waster.

with a painting...deciding which inspiration photo to work from, printing that one out, and not having a great pile of "possibles" saves me a lot of time. When teaching workshops, I've sometimes seen people taking a whole day to decide which photo is the one to start from.....

Another time waster is Looking for a particular tool: if you find yourself more than a couple of times taking time to find a basic tool, buy some more of them! I have scissors Everywhere! – then I don’t waste time looking for a pair. I also fill about a dozen bobbins at a time and just have 3 bobbin colors: light, medium and dark. In the garden I have a spade and a trowel and gloves waiting for me in each area of the garden.

6. I really try to avoid other people wasting my time – politely of course! If it’s a nuisance call, obviously one just puts the phone down and lets them prattle on to thin air; if a friend or relative, I say “well I mustn’t keep you…” (translates as “I’m afraid I’m NOT going to let you keep me”!).

A great way of avoiding them wasting time is to combine social time with exercise – makes the exercise easier and makes double use of the time.

7. I try to use distractions as reinforcements: e.g. checking for emails only AFTER so many minutes on task! Studies have shown that office workers spend almost a third of their time on emails, social media etc!!

8. Simple filing systems help to organize papers etc so they don't get lost - I have spent hours looking for a vital piece of paper!

9. Talking of paper,try to handle each piece of paper once only. If you write to me you may well get your card or letter back with something scrawled on it! If you email me, I tend to reply straightaway so then I don’t take the time to read it twice – quicker to hit reply while what you’ve said is still in my mind. Of course some friends hate me doing this!!!

10. And of course, it’s important not to do that which does not need to be done!! Such as ironing all the fabric….just iron the bits you are going to work with…yes I know ironing is lovely…smoothing out the wrinkles of the world..but it does take time! Tidying up the studio – do you really need to have everything arranged just so? I must admit I don’t understand the drive to have the perfect studio…do we really need to know who has the biggest one?

11. I try to set goals well ahead of time with the Big Task split into many little ones and something accomplished towards it each day…like writing a book or an online course – 30 minutes a day is, I find, much more possible, than larger chunks of time which take a lot of working up to.

12. When I write a blog, I try to make it relevant to something I need to do – like manage my time more wisely! Having said that, I’m off to make a cup of tea – a very wise use of my time!

So, if you have been, thanks for reading…and I do hope you found it a good use of your time! Do share any time management tips that you have too….we all would love a couple more hours of creative time per day! Elizabeth


Elsie Montgomery said...

Thanks for another good post. Most of these are helpful for me too. My biggest barrier to getting things done is a case of "Idon'twanttoitis" usually for a commission or some task has no deadline. Lately my Christian faith helps with a reminder like this: "Colossians 3:23. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord...." Even so, lack of motivation is starting to make me use the word NO or "Thanks for asking but..." more often. Sigh. I'm so glad to know you and to be able to take a few minutes to read what you have to say and be encouraged!

Gabi - langer-faden said...

Hi Elizabeth, it is fine to think about time wasting, but you can't optimize everything. Sometimes it is easier and much more faster to do things and not wasting time how you can combine and optimize it with other things. And don't forget you need free time, maybe just sitting and dreaming in the day or what I often do cleaning neatly unnecessary things. Gabi

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Elsie and thank you for your comment.
Lack of motivation is a tough one...first I try to figure out if I REALLY need to do that thing (whatever it is!) at all!! Covid has given us a lot of excuses to get out of things! I know a lot of people have ducked out of organisations that they were pretty luke warm about.
And yes...."it's an honour to be asked, but I"m afraid I'm up to my eyes with a project for a friend in need"!!

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Gabi, not everything can be optimized you're right! in every field. The whole notion of "95% excellent" therefore we need to be "96% excellent" next year that is in several workplaces misses the whole point I think!
Meditative time isn't wasted, as you very rightly point out....and finding the activity that allows you to do that - quietly mull things over - is a very good idea.
For me, it's always walking...alone and without phone! I carry a little notebook with case I think of something I need to remember..
thank you for writing! Elizabeth

elle said...

When my supervisor hubby retired we started having morning meetings. Changed my life. We have switched to evenings with quick review with our coffee. He is a list maker. I am not but I do have a planner now. I/We are so productive now we are thinking we need to plan more 'smell the roses' time. But it is so satisfying to view accomplishments. I do enjoy reading! Thanks for always sharing something worthwhile.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Elle, thank you for commenting!
oh definitely have some off time! Time management is great for things you really want to get done...but that doesn't mean you have to Time Manage your whole day!!
As they say, let it work for you....not rule you!!
And don't forget the "death cleaning"! whoa that takes a lot of time...


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