Some mornings I have few enough jobs in my inbox that it feels like I have some extra time, but still plenty of things on my “To Do” list. Because I don’t have a normal job where I clock in and have someone to tell me what to do and when, my work day can vary wildly. Lack of structure has often led me to alternately fixate on things, or panic and lose focus. On days like this, it’s easy to stand in the studio torn between what I want to do, and what I need to to…and end up doing nothing. Over the years, I’ve developed some strategies to help move past this:
1. Get Dressed Like You’re Going to Work
I don’t have a normal job, but that doesn’t mean that I should treat it like it’s not a real job. Getting dressed is part of preparing myself mentally to go to work.
2. Make a List
I’ve discovered that ritual is something that I respond well to, and making a daily list is the first thing I do after the kids are on the bus and my breakfast is made. Writing down the things that need to get done during the day has turned out to be the simplest and most effective way for me to keep moving forward. It lets my brain relax a little and not try to keep track of too many things. I can rank the things that are most important, and what doesn’t get done can carry over in to tomorrow. As an added bonus, e-mails coming in aren’t on that list, so they aren’t adding to my workload and overwhelming me.
3. Remove Distractions
I’m fortunate to have a dedicated studio space in my house, but I can still hear car doors on the street, or children upstairs. Again, the best solution for me has turned out to be a simple one. I listen to music with headphones. It allows me to be present with the work instead of thinking about everything else.
4. Make a Decision
Procrastination for me has less to do with not wanting to do something than it has to do with not knowing what to do first. Recognizing what I’m doing, making a decision, and moving forward is often enough to get a real start on the list.
5. Set Alarms
I have an alarm set for lunch time, and one set for quitting time. I don’t have to worry what time it is, because that’s taken care of, and it gives me a couple of goals throughout the day to work towards.
I started in on my 2018 goals from last week with a brand new sketchbook/journal! It’s a hardbound Strathmore 500 series Mixed Media book, and is the first time in forever that I have used something other than the spiral-bound Canson ones or just typing paper. The paper has a really nice weight, and a fine tooth, which I find myself fighting against. It wears down the point on my pencils really fast. Writing alongside the drawings has turned out to be an important part of the experience for me, though I can’t help but hear the voice of my friend Ryan saying “More drawing, less writing”.
I hope this week has found you all well, and I look forward to seeing what next week brings. Until then, take care and be good!