My 7 Step Guide to Optimizing Your Time and Building an Art Career You Love
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As business owners, we are constantly finding hacks to save us time. Not only are we creating the work, we are working as an accountant, a website developer, a social media content developer, a photographer, and more! Building a business requires a lot of time and effort, but I am going to show you how to optimize your time and skyrocket your creativity.
KNOW YOUR SCHEDULE
When helping artists grow their business, I often begin by asking them about their current commitments. Do you have another job? Are you taking care of children? How much time do you want to devote to your art business? In order to optimize our time, we must know what time we are working with. This means determining the amount of time you can and want to devote to your art career. Understanding the hours available to you will help you best plan how to use them.
The biggest “hack” I have used to optimize my time is simply knowing when I work best. I tend to be most creative in the mornings and often wake up early to write or paint. I leave more intellectual work for early afternoon and mindless or boring work for the afternoon slump.
I challenge you to use this week as a test. Complete different tasks at various times throughout the day. Write down how well you perform at each task at each interval. Discover which times of day work best for your different types of work.
I understand many of you have jobs and this limits your ability to completely organize your schedule, but you still can learn a lot about yourself within those constraints. Are you a morning worker, a late nighter, or a weekend painter?
As creatives and business owners, we often get excited about every project in front of us. You will never be able to optimize your time if you don’t prioritize your tasks. Look at your tasks in terms of what is most profitable, what has a deadline, and what excites you the most. Use these to help formulate what to prioritize first.
I set up my schedule each week and morning with my to-do list separated into Priority 1, Priority 2, and New Ideas/Side Projects. I leave my Priority 1 box very short, about 3-4 tasks. This way I have a manageable list to work with each day and if I work ahead of schedule I can move on to my Priority 2 list or New Ideas List.
Building systems into your schedule is a great way to develop sustainable habits that increase productivity. Systems could look like checking email once a day at the same time until the inbox is cleared, painting for an hour every day to stay creative, doing your accounting weekly to avoid getting behind, etc.
Look at what tasks you already are doing regularly and brainstorm how you could turn those into systems. I use a Instagram scheduler and I upload all of the posts on Mondays. This system saves me time and helps me build out my feed on a weekly basis.
I recommend building these systems into your schedule. After about a month, they will become second nature and you can build on them.
LEARN TO BATCH WORK
Did you know that multitasking decreases productivity by 40% and multitasking can increase your error rate by 50%. Why am I telling you this? I know you, I was you. I used to multitask every day. I would check emails while writing a blog post while trying to make lunch. I'll be honest... I usually ended up with typos in my emails, poorly written blog posts, and a burned lunch. How do we avoid the pressure to multitask when so much is constantly being asked of us? Batch working! I started batch working a year ago and it makes a huge difference in my productivity and accuracy. All I do is set aside time to do everything from check emails, to upload artwork online, to post on Instagram. I set a timer and only do one task during that allotted time. It may seem simple, but it is harder than you think to avoid the temptations of our phones, inboxes, and pestering family members. I encourage you to take this week to try batch working and see how it can drastically increase productivity. Plus, you will get the satisfaction of checking those tasks off of your to do list. Who doesn’t love that?
There are numerous tools out there built to save business owners time and energy. I have a free PDF, The 5 Apps I Use Every Day for My Art Business, that shares a few great examples of free or affordable tools to save you time. A few examples include scheduler tools, like Tailwind for Instagram and Pinterest. Canva to build logos, marketing materials, social posts, and more. There are numerous apps, websites, and other tools out there to help you save time. Start researching today and watch your calendar open back up with more free time.
LEARN TO SAY NO
The best piece of advice I can give business owners is to learn how to say no. Prioritizing is important, but understanding the value of your time and knowing that you have the ability to say no is even more important. We often feel the need to agree to every opportunity presented to us because "it is great marketing" or "it's for a good cause" or "it could lead to something bigger" or even "I don't know how to tell them no." Drop the excuses and determine what opportunities are not serving you and your business and learn to say no.