Like most artists he knew, Darren had a day job. Or rather, a night job. He’d tried the full gambit of side gigs and discovered that the one that paid the best was bartending. This also freed up his daylight hours to get other stuff done.
The trouble, he’d found, is that being out late at work sometimes led to relative sloth the next day. Even though he could definitely be up by 8:30 or 9 most mornings, it wasn’t uncommon for his feet to hit the floor around 10:30 or 11 instead. By then half the day was gone and he felt rushed to fit all the have-to things he needed to do on top of finding time to work on his art.
I ran into Darren when he opened a small exhibit at a local gallery. When I congratulated him on his opening he retorted quite honestly that he’d only got there by the skin of his teeth. That all of the minutiae of daily life felt like it was crushing him and threatening to squeeze out any time he had for art.
Six months later I ran into Darren again, this time at a much larger opening for a group show at a regional art space. He seemed like a changed man. As we talked I began to see that by making some pretty simple changes, he’d found hours of time he was missing before and had seriously increased his productivity.
Working as an independent artist while simultaneously holding down a full or part-time job can feel really overwhelming. On top of the responsibilities of work and daily life (groceries, cooking, bills, socializing, exercising…maybe…) finding time to actually practice your art can seem totally out of reach.
There are several concrete steps you can take to reclaim the time you’re losing.
First, identify your distractions. If it helps, make a physical list of all the ways you are frittering away valuable time. Be honest with yourself. How much time do you spend on your phone or shmoozing social media?
Once your distractions are identified and targeted, consider what you need to get done during an average day/week/month. Again, write it down. Sometimes seeing it all listed before you can be extremely eye-opening.
Create a realistic schedule and make a plan to stick to it. Make use of reminders or alarm settings on your devices. Build in time not only to get tasks done but to transition from one task to the next.
Above all, don’t multitask. Our brains are not wired for multitasking and this is nothing more than a good way to do bad work.
Pulling it all together like this can be life-changing. It can also be an uphill battle. At Praxis Center we offer a full eight-module course in time management for artists. There you will find strategies for reclaiming your time and the support you need to make it happen.