One of the crucial factors of using your full creative potential, is having an optimized workspace, online as well as offline. Clutter on your desk can turn into clutter in your head, which will often times lead to getting stuck in the execution of a great idea or getting a writer’s block. Let’s explore some options for clearing your head, so getting to work on your art gets easier and your inspirational flow gets going no matter what.
What’s on your desk?
Let’s start with an easy question: what is on your desk? Are you working on your writings, photographs, or paintings with a bunch of grocery lists, coupons and old mail lying around? Get rid of things that do not inspire you in your work and will just make you think of the things you have to do in the future. Make sure that everything around you encourages you to work on your art and focus, don’t let things you can’t act on right now get in the way of your creative thought process.
Only allow inspiration and real people
I have a simple rule when it comes down to my email inbox: I only allow either real people, or inspiration. This blocks out newsletters from online stores, social media notifications, advertising from websites, and other automated messages that are being send out. When I receive a newsletter I didn’t ask for, I immediately opt-out from it to prevent procrastination and newsletters cluttering up my inbox daily. But because I also want to be notified about cool inspirational blogs and articles and I don’t want to get out there to search for it or browse an RSS reader on a recurring basis, I subscribe to inspirational and motivational email newsletters only, to make sure I don’t miss out and get an inspirational boost when starting off my day. Some websites that are allowed to email me are Mixergy, for new educational stuff on startups, and Etsy, because their newsletter is just fun to read. Think of websites that will inspire you, and exchange the Amazon newsletter for something useful. *cough* Work it weekly *cough*
Update your address book and stay in touch with important people in your life
Updating your address book can be a real pain, because sometimes there are just too many people on there; most of them you don’t even remember. If this is the case, then maybe it’s time to remove those contacts from your address book and make room for new people you meet. Removing names you don’t even recognize anymore can also help you glance over your list and remembering to catch up with people you care about. See if you can create your creative hive from the people you want to keep in your file, and tag them, if possible. This way you will have your support system ready whenever you need some feedback, or just a quick chat to catch up.
Do you remember what the days were like in high school? After class or at lunch time, you would gather with a group of friends and hang out with the kids you liked, because of, well, various reasons you couldn’t even explain yourself back then. As a grown up, we are not moving around in these small groups anymore, but part of the human behavior that lies underneath is still a big part of our lives, and it influences the way we think about our art and our business as well. Why?
The average of five
Jim Rohn, a well known motivational speaker, once said: “You are the average of the five people you spend most time with.” I couldn’t agree more. The decisions we make are normally based on culture, that what we learn, hear and experience throughout our lives, and not nature, that what we are born with. How were you brought up? In what part of the world are you? How do people treat you? What things do you do, read, and feel? Thinking of the five people you spend the most time with will give you insights on how this relates to your own behavior and achievements.
In order to get the best out of your artistic abilities for the coming year, writing the names of those five people down can give you good insights on where you are heading with your own personality and perhaps even the selling of your art. If the number one person you see the most is your mother, think of how she advices you to lead your life. Does she want you to get a job at an office, for security and stability? Or does she cheer on the fact that you are perhaps wanting to change that, and would love the idea of being an independent artist? Or is it your partner, your sister, your daughter, your best friend?
Creating a small hive
If there are two to four people on your list that would rather have you work 9 to 5 jobs and think your dreams are fantastic but unachievable, don’t worry. Don’t ignore your mom, but go about it the other way around: create a small group of another five people around you that cheer on your dreams and ideas and have a lot of knowledge in the industry you would want to be in. Are you an aspiring painter, or a professional wanting to become more famous with your work? Surround yourself with people that are trying to achieve the same, or, sometimes even better, already made it and would love to give you some advice on the best ways to get to your destination.
Surround yourself with a small hive of people that will inspire you and, whenever you meet or see them, will spark your ambition and help you to reach your goals. Want to help someone out or are looking for members of your hive? Feel free to drop a note in the comment section below or contact me if you would like some feedback on your progress.7 responses
Now that the Christmas presents are all unpacked, 2013 is knocking on our door and it’s time to not only prepare for new year’s eve, but also to get some systems in place that will help boost your artistic work in the coming year. The goal is to have you wake up in the morning with an absolute passion to get started on the things that will improve your artwork. If you’re like me, some days you can’t get anything done, because you keep hesitating what should be the best thing to work on that day. Too much choice will paralyze you in the end, so keeping focus can help you improve the quality of your day tremendously.
Creating an ‘editorial calendar’ for yourself
All television shows, radio stations and magazines in the world work with them: editorial calendars. There is not a reporter in the world that get’s up in the morning in a state of absolute panic, screaming: ‘wait, ANOTHER issue of our newspaper is coming out tomorrow?!’ The reason they’re not panicking, is that they work with an editorial calendar.
Artists usually don’t have to publish a daily newspaper, but what we can learn from reporters is the fact that they think ahead. They have regular meetings about what will be covered when and keep referring to the calendar when they start working. This could also apply to us, artists, when we want to set goals for the coming year and want to make sure we stick to it. This is why writing your goals on an editorial calendar can be useful.
How to do it:
Create small and fun recurring tasks for yourself
Think of small goals you would like to achieve in the first couple of months of the new year, and make them recurring. What skills would you want to improve? What made you proud last year, that you could repeat in the next? What mistakes do you want to avoid?
Think of them as small tasks. Some things you could do on a monthly, weekly or daily basis are:
- Emailing your best clients to keep in touch with them and keep the conversation going
- Reflecting on your work, analyzing what works and what doesn’t, asking friends or colleagues what they think of it
- Experimenting with new work and materials
- Reading books that will help you improve your work
- Finding new like-minded people to connect with through social media
Now, write these down on an actual calendar and stick it to the wall you face when working on your art. If you’re into digital calendars, make them recurring appointments with notifications set up to remind you of your task.
When you’re done planning the first months, try to think of the months after that. What would be important to do in that period? What will make spring incredible? And how are you entering summer?
Remember, don’t make these goals huge, they should be done in about half an hour to an hour every week (or day, or month, but I prefer weekly so I can make Tuesday ‘writing day’ and Friday ‘catching up day’) and they have to be fun to do. Don’t make it a weekly goal to work on your administration, because you will quickly lose your interest. Have fun with it, plan ahead, and you will have an action plan for the coming months.4 responses