More from the time management files…..


Continuing with my strategies and tactics for getting my work done, I bring you:

Creating a work plan: one of my most favorite tactics!


1.    Set up a calendar, with both the month at a glance and weekly pages with lots of room to write stuff.  On the daily segments of the weekly pages, I try to be very specific as to my assignment for the day.  For instance, for Monday, I may have listed the following:

Morning: Underpainting of still life commission.  (3 hrs.)

Afternoon: 1 hr. Biz arts talk

2 hrs. Drawings for Pandamorphosis

1 hr. Portfolio updates and correspondence


2.    Write all the big deadlines in, as soon as you have them. While you can do this on a computer, I highly recommend writing it down in a physical calendar that is accessible at all times.  If your schedule is on the computer, and your work is not normally done on a computer, having to turn on or go to the computer to look up or enter information is a distraction and opportunity for procrastination. Even if your work is done on a computer, switching back and forth from your calendar to the work at hand is yet another distraction.

3.    Create a worksheet that breaks down the overall project (book, art exhibition, play, performance) into individual elements.  To start, make a list of all the things that must happen to realize your project.

4.    Estimate the approximate amount of time these things will take. For instance, if you are having a painting show in a gallery, you must be aware of the gallery’s schedule for obtaining an image for a show announcement, delivery date of work, images for the gallery’s website.  If you are producing the show, you must also allow time for press releases to go out, and doing your own mailing of an announcement, as well as securing a location and arranging an opening party.  For demonstration purposes, let’s assume that the show is taking place in a gallery.

5.    Enter elements on a calendar. After determining the number of paintings I need for a show, I like to actually block out on a calendar the time to do each painting, so that I know I have enough time for each one, or know that I have to decrease the size or number of paintings for the show.

6.    What is your best “brain time”?  As much as possible, keeping in mind all your responsibilities, determine what hours of the day your brain is at the top of its game, and plan your most creative work for that time period.  This is not always possible for those who have an outside job, but do the best you can.  If you know that you are exhausted when you get home from your day job, try and see if you can get up an hour early, and do some creative work then.

7. Make a list that prioritizes all your obligations to work, family, and self.  Nobody wants to be an “art zombie” but if you really want to do this work, you must find a way to fit in high quality time in your studio.

Here is a sample calendar/work plan.  It’s set up for visual artists, but writers and preforming artists can adapt it for their use. It gives you an idea of all the things one needs to think about in creating their production plan.

1. Sample workflow sheet

Overall goal Secondary goals and timeframes Goal components Time required for each comp Presentation elements Miscellaneous stuff
One-person show at gallery; To be delivered to gallery 8 months from today Paint 12 paintings for show. Prepare or buy 12 canvases

Make or buy frames

How long does it take to make or receive canvases from supply source? Framing: how long does it take to make or order frames from a local or mail order source? Have work photographed.

Order frames

Title paintings

  34 weeks available to do work, less 3 weeks drying/framing time/ + 1 week for unexpected delays Choose images for the paintings If I can do a 12”x16’ painting in 1 week, but it takes 4 weeks to do a 24”x30”, how many of each can I do in 30 weeks? Make labels for the backs of paintings Compile and print illustrated information/ inventory sheets of all work to be delivered to the gallery.
  30 weeks available for painting 2.5 weeks is available for each painting if they are to be the same size. Hint: have a supply of canvases on hand before the clock starts ticking. Order your frames early so that they will be in your studio and ready when all the paintings are done. Deliver work to gallery.

Hope this gets you a little closer to your goals. (remember them?) I’ll finish up with some more things to think about next time.

Till then, keep your creative irons in the fire!




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