I thought I’d tackle another subject on the list of blog post suggestions that I talked about in my last post. This time I thought I’d talk about the last one on that list because I think it’s something we all struggle with at some point: Juggling opportunities, prioritizing and getting it all done. Here’s a peak at what my to do list looks like right now:
Get my book finished: I have quite a bit to do on this before my first deadline on 9/1 which is coming up fast. I still have to finish two of the projects for it that are in progress and design two more so that I have a total of six in the book. Five of the projects still need images and illustrations drawn for them and I have to write the directions for 4 of them. I also need to write the intro for the book.
MQG Dye webinar: I have to create the presentation for the Modern Quilt Guild online webinar that I’m doing in December. I have to tape and edit the video portions of the presentation and create the slides for it.
New work development: I have several calls for art that I’d like to create new work for.
New online class development: I am reducing my in person teaching engagements and so I have several new online classes that are on my list to develop.
Misc and ongoing:
Blog and newsletter updates
Manage my online classes
Meet monthly with the mentees that I’m working with
Threads of Resistance list:
Create a content binder and instructions to include in the crates to travel with the exhibit
Create new postcards for passing out at the venues
Organize artist walk throughs for the venues where the exhibit will be on view
Prepare remarks for my gallery talk at the NEQM on 9/9/17
Manage the exhibit as it travels from venue to venue
On top of all of that, there are vet appointments and a workout schedule to keep not to mention groceries to buy, dinners to cook, and so on and so on…. So how do I keep my head above the water line? Well there are a few things that help:
Studio time: I make studio time a priority! I’m fortunate that my studio is in my home but it can also be a hindrance because I’ve had to train myself to not get distracted by the laundry needing to be done or the dishes in the sink etc. I used to have to make sure the house was clean before I’d go in the studio until I realized that I’d end up spending more time cleaning than creating. So now I don’t worry about it – mornings through mid afternoon are my time in the studio because that time of the day is when I am feeling most creative. The dishes and the laundry can wait, they’re not going anywhere!
Choose wisely: There used to be a time when I would say yes to every opportunity and project that came along. Now I am more selective about the ones that I get involved with. The first questions that I ask myself before I get involved with any project is “will this make me happy, will I enjoy it, will I have fun doing it”. If the answer to any of those is “no” then I seriously rethink my involvement in it. Life is short and you can’t waste it feeling guilty about doing the things that bring you joy and feed your artistic soul. I’m very careful about not over committing myself to projects that will cut into my studio time. My studio time has to be a priority and if it means I have to say no to something else then so be it. For instance last year I did a lot of traveling to teach and it really cut into my studio time so this year and next I have cut way back on booking teaching engagements both local and ones that involve travel. One of the best gifts you can give yourself sometimes is permission to say “no”.
Combine errands: Grocery shopping, vet visits, appointments, post office runs etc… It has to be done so I deal with it by combining as many as I can into the same day. For me it’s better to take one day off from the studio and get everything done than to spread errands out over the course of several days.
Write it down: I am a list maker. I keep track of what needs to be done by when as well as things that I want to do that may not have a place on the to do list yet. I am lost without my lists! They keep me focused and on track and help me prioritize what needs to be done first.
Health and fitness: This may seem like a silly thing to put on the list but I think it plays a big role in how productive I am in the studio. I take care of myself and health and fitness are a priority for me. I take boxing and kickboxing classes several times a week in the early morning hours and I take karate a couple evenings a week. This coupled with a healthy diet keeps me fit and feeling good which means I can work for long stretches in the studio without discomfort. Working out also helps clear my head and stay centered and focused. My fitness program isn’t for everyone of course so choose one that works for you – get out and take a walk every day, take a yoga class, ride your bike, do whatever you like but make taking care of yourself a priority.
Take the weekends off: I don’t usually work in the studio unless the weather is bad and I can’t get outside. We all need down time and I use the weekends as my recharge time.
In the summer I canoe, hike and generally spend as much time as I can outside while the weather is good. Winters are a different story and if the weather is not good it’s a great time to catch up on reading and other inside projects.
Now I know that these strategies will not work for everyone. I’m very fortunate that being an artist is a full time job for me so studio time doesn’t have to compete with a 9-5 job. If that’s the case for you, then you’ll have to make some adjustments and accommodations of course but perhaps some of these techniques that work for me can be adapted for your situation. I’d love to hear what strategies for making studio time a priority work for you – leave me a comment on this post so that others may benefit from them too. Now I have to get back to work!