Archive for the ‘Time management’ Category

Clint Watson has written a piece on his blog:Interruption is the Enemy of Productivity. It takes time to get into “the zone” and you can’t be really productive if you keep getting interrupted.

This is why I only paint at night and why I hate Fridays. I can’t paint when I have small children running round the house and housework chores naggingly waiting to be done. Even if I have made a conscious decision to take an hour out for art, they keep nagging me to get back to work. This cuts down my work time, but I’m not going to get anything done then anyway.

Clint took this from a post by Kris Jordan on a presentation by Jason Fried of 37 signals where he is talking about writing software and running a start-up. Writing software is also an art.

Jason also mentions the fallacy of getting more work done by working longer hours and several other good practices for the software or visual artist. Worth a read and taking to heart.

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I read Seth Godin today with a sense of deja-vu. If you don’t watch TV, or like me don’t even own one, all of a sudden you will see that you have loads of time for painting, programming or writing or whatever it is you do.

If you also ration the number of blogs you read and you don’t Twitter then you are really away!

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As I pointed out recently this is probably the number 1 question that I ever get asked.

The bottom line as far as I’m concerned is deciding what I want to do and sticking with it. Goal orientation. They call it “Dveikut BaMesima” (adhering to the task) in Hebrew. I will give tips further on but first I think that in order to answer the question well I should put it in perspective. Here are some random facts that will help the reader:

  • I am Orthodox Jewish so I don’t paint on Shabbat (Saturdays).
  • I have five children aged 3.5 to 15.
  • I work a nine hour day in hi-tech which plus commutes makes near on 11 hours out of the house.

So how does a normal day look?

  • 06:00 – Get up, get ready, coffee and then out to morning service “Shaharit“. (luckily the synagogue is just across the street).
  • 07:00 – Breakfast with the children, nagging and cajoling them to get ready, washing the dishes. If I’m lucky a bit of spare time.
  • 08:00 – Out of the house on foot with children 4+5, drop them at kindergarten and school and wait for my ride to work. Open the laptop and do updates on the website, search for a wireless network someone carelessly left open and do email and surfing, read.
  • 09:00-18:00 – At work. Sorry, my employer wouldn’t want me to tell about my work and I would want them to read anything not work connected that I do in this time ;-).
  • 19:00 – Get home, dinner with family, put children to bed, wash dishes etc.
  • 20:00 – Small children in bed. Start of my discretionary time :-)…
  • 23:00 – Bed

So as you see that 20:00-23:00 slot is where it all gets done, although normally it’s nearer 21:00 till I can get started and that’s apart from supermarket evening, ironing, school meetings and everything else.

The tips

  • Remember: if you want time, you will find it. There is a saying that if you want domething done, then ask a busy person. It’s true, busy people know how to find time. Be a busy person.
  • Set yourself action items and timetables to get them done – “this week I will finish this picture”.
  • Set yearly goals. This will help you keep focussed on where you’re going, but also it will give you the satisfaction of being able to chalk up another goal achieved when you get there. Remember, unwritten (and unshared) goals are not goals. Write them down and share them or you won’t be committed.
  • Schedule your week – Sunday painting, Monday shopping, Tuesday iron 1/2 hour then paint, etc. Then stick to it – it works.
  • Watch out what you do with your time. Don’t watch television, or surf idly. I don’t have a TV and I read on Saturdays when I can’t paint or write or work on the computer.
  • Use dead time for doing things. I read and work on my website on my way to and from work. That’s an hour and a half that would otherwise go wasted every day – like the total waking hours of 22 days!
  • Be mean with external commitments. If you are a busy and goal-oriented person, the chances are that you will get approached to serve on school commitees or that you will feel strongly about cleaning up your city or… Don’t do it, unless you have loads of time apart from your painting time… and I certainly don’t.
  • However… take time to be with your family. You may be wasting painting time, but time with your children will never return.

Good luck!

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I saw a post with this title today on a blog I discovered called the Sixty Minute Artist by a guy called Jerry Lebo. Jerry has a full time job, four kids and a hectic life. In between all of this he paints for 60 minutes a day. Every day. The post quotes a whole lot of statistics about artists in the US that make me (and Jerry) pretty average: full time job, aged around 40, college education in something other than art.

As I pointed out in a previous post, I am a bit of a sixty minute artist myself. It does give me a good feeling every time I discover another serious but spare-time artist fighting against the 24 hour day to fit in time for painting.

Jerry quotes  a book called “Taking the leap” by Cay Lang that claims there are three things you need to be a successful artist:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Commitment
  3. Good work habits

and of these three, “good work habits” are the most important.

I can agree with this on a certain level. If you are a business then remember you are a business. Personally, I’m not so much on the business level so I’m busy working on the other two and trying to find time to express my commitment to exploring my curiosity… and somewhere to put the paintings till I can find a market for the paintings I enjoy doing.

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