I know you’d rather spend more time in the studio than busy doing other things, right? In all of my roles as an artist career coach, writer, author, and director/curator of Manhattan Arts International and The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS, one of my biggest daily challenges is trying to be as productive as possible without feeling overwhelmed. To help my clients achieve their career goals, I offer the best advice I know on how to accomplish the most in less time. After receiving so many positive responses to a previous article “Time-Saving Tips For Busy Artists” I decided it’s time to offer 10 more time-saving tips. I hope you enjoy these and they help you conserve time and energy.
1. Be totally focused.
When you choose the project that has to be completed, set aside sufficient time without any distractions. Rehearse the task mentally. Quiet the mind. Focus your attention. Take each step deliberately. Become totally absorbed in what you’re doing, and a free-flowing momentum will transpire.
2. Be prepared.
Make tomorrow’s plans and write your “To Do” list the night before. Arrange the activities in order of urgency. Allocate a realistic amount of time for each project so you avoid overloading your schedule. Also maintain your mailing list on the computer and keep it up to date, ready for your next promotional announcement. Alphabetize your files and organize your materials in the best way possible to help you locate them quickly.
3. Create an uncluttered work area.
Your desk and your studio should be free from visual and sound distractions. If possible use a separate room for an office or arrange a space in a corner of your studio, bedroom or a closet. Eliminate clutter and obstacles. Use a file cabinet or decorative storage boxes to keep your photographs, Photo CDs, promotional materials, books, and business receipts organized and easy to find.
4. Keep a closed door to your private studio.
Your creative space should be considered sacred and undisturbed. Let others know that you want to be left alone with your creative projects. You should also provide time to brainstorm, daydream, meditate and restore inner balance. As often as possible, set limits on your social and family demands that are interfering with your artistic production.
5. Break large projects down into smaller chunks.
If you are setting aside important projects waiting for that big block of time to be available you’ll discover that it may never arrive. It is better to use the 20-30-minute strategy and tackle the project with small amounts of time on a regular basis.
6. Return phone calls, emails and texts, in priority order.
Not all messages are of equal importance. Instead of returning your messages in the order they came to you, decide which ones are the most important / urgent, and follow that order instead.
7. Do what you do best and delegate the rest.
Make a list of the areas you excel in and enjoy. Then, consider which tasks you can delegate to an intern, friend or and family member. For example, do you have a talent for website design and Photoshop while your friend is savvy when it comes to social networking? Suggest that you exchange tasks with them and you’ll both be happier and productive.
8. Maintain good health.
If your health is impaired, your career will be threatened. Avoid sitting at the computer or easel for long periods of time. Take breaks, stretch, and exercise frequently. Avoid the use of toxic artist materials, as well as toxic environments and relationships. You may frequently be tempted to work long hours in your studio and neglect your nutritional needs. Have plenty of healthy snacks, fresh fruits and vegetables and clean drinking water close at hand.
9. Ask for help.
When we are reluctant to ask for help we end up wasting time, become frustrated or make costly mistakes. Hire a professional specialist when needed. Is your Artist’s Biography in need of being rewritten but you haven’t found the time to do it? Are you procrastinating on sending your email newsletter because you don’t know what to write? Find out how I can help you.
10. Be Okay With Saying “No”
When my consulting schedule gets too busy, I create a waiting list. When I’m asked to consider new collaborative projects, I need to sometimes say “thank you, not now”. If your demands for exhibitions, commissions, teaching, and other art-related activities gets out of control, get comfortable with asking people to wait. You may even need to reevaluate your goals and eliminate some of them. The world will not end if you get one less work of art finished, or if a client has to wait a few weeks longer for the project you accepted. Be honest with them and let them know why they need to wait. They will appreciate you even more. And, if you have too many orders, maybe it’s time to raise your prices.