Tuesday, September 13, 2011

the pros and cons of predetermined structure and how to find your own balance

I've noticed that structure increases productivity for some artists, but hinders creativity for others. I believe that's why when it comes to making art independently (on one's own time and without a particular deadline), some artists are golden and others struggle. The way to deal with this seems to be identifying which category you fall under and finding ways to balance it. I know for a fact I do better with a predetermined structure, but as I talked about yesterday, I think I can learn to work around this weakness and become more productive without someone or some calendar telling me what needs to be done.

This upcoming quarter, I'll have fewer classes but more independent study hours. Monday through Thursday I won't have any commitments until 11:30 am, so I've decided that I'll wake up early and get to school by 9:00 am each day and use those first few hours to be productive. I am totally a morning person and would aim for earlier, but I have night classes several days a week. I don't have classes on Fridays and I haven't decided if I'll work from home or my studio at school, but either way, I'll stick to a similar schedule. I'd like to be seriously productive five days a week, and give myself a break the other two. Quarters where I've been at school six to seven days per week were not worth the stress in my opinion.

I can't move into my new studio just yet, so this week I'm working from home and changing some of my bad habits! I think everyone deals with getting into routines that don't really work for them, so I'm okay with sharing. This is what I'm making myself do this week to reset my working habits:

- Wake up by 7:30 am and get ready first thing. I put off getting ready when I know I don't have to be anywhere, and I'd like to change that.
- After I get ready, I start my coffee and while it's brewing, I do last night's dishes. I made this rule for myself in January and it actually works perfectly. If you have no dishwasher and a slow coffee pot, I highly recommend it. Doing the dishes makes my home feel so much cleaner! I try to remember to put a load of laundry in at this point as well so I can stay on top of that, even though during the rest of my working time I am trying to avoid cleaning anything!
- While I drink my coffee (at my desk! not from the bed or couch or kitchen table), I read the blogs I'm subscribed to and write a new entry--which is what I'm doing now. I think blogging is a productive activity for creative types and a good form of self-promotion and self-reflection so I'm definitely willing to make time for it.
- After blogging, I respond to pressing e-mails and make a to-do list for the day if I don't already have one (unlike other to-do lists I've made this summer, however, it cannot include anything except art and school related tasks! anything to do with cooking, cleaning, gardening, non-art errands, etc. has to go on a separate list). Then I number the things on my list and get to work! I'll take a break for lunch in the afternoon, and try to wrap up around 4:00, at which point I can pull out that other to do list, hang out with Corey, cook an amazing dinner, or simply relax.

While I work, I can listen to music, but not watch/listen to tv. I've been watching Friends all summer and I have a tendency to want to start my day off by watching "just one episode," but it becomes a distraction. This is just a personal choice. I know lots of people who draw and paint while they watch tv or movies.

What guidelines help you stay productive when working on creative projects from home or without an enforced structure?

p.s. I have some new blog features planned out! This afternoon, stay tuned for my first ever guest post! Tomorrow, I'll be starting a new feature highlighting artists I know which will include a Q&A session and photos of them working in their studios. And Thursday, I'm bringing back the thrift store finds feature. It's a week of new beginnings for the One Lonely Apricot blog.

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