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Goals & Time

What did you accomplish this year?

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What did you accomplish this year?

How was your year? When you started 2017 where were you? Did your goals change, meander, or stay the same? Did you set off to conquer and succeeded, or were you derailed?

Take 5 focused minutes and assess your year.
Focusing on the positive, we want to know what our amazing readers accomplished this year. We hope that this short exercise will help you pat yourself on the back and look forward to what’s next.

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Defending your creative time.

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Defending your creative time.

To be creative, we need to have time and space to allow our minds to wander, expand, and go off in random directions. Of course, that's a hard thing to do these days, as we have so many things constantly vying for our attention. What that means is that we have to learn to be really strict with ourselves. If creative time is indeed important to us, and something that we'd like to bring to the forefront in our lives, than we have to make time for it. Blocking it off is the first and most important thing you can do. Write it in your calendar and treat it like you would any other meeting or appointment. It is arguably the most important appointment of your day. 

Hopefully the time you have found for yourself is also your most creative time of the day--for example, many of us think most clearly and have the most energy first thing in the morning. If that's the case, then grab your cup of coffee and head straight to your work area. Do not check your email, do not scroll through Instagram. This time is blocked off for your mind to focus, for your creativity to have a chance to flow in. If you check your email, chances are you'll get distracted and think that confirming your dentist appointment is most important thing you could do. It's not. Almost all of your emails can wait until you take your lunch break. 

In the book Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, Cal Newport suggests starting with small blocks of focused creative time (an hour at first), and building those up incrementally by 15 minutes every week or two. The key is never to allow distraction. Once you give in to checking your phone, you should cancel the whole block and start over. It's a great way to build discipline. 

Another tip he suggests is having one focused task to do during that time. If you are writing an article, do all your research ahead of time so that when you sit down, all you have to do is write. Same thing goes for starting a new painting or designing a poster. Gather all your research, source material, visual inspiration, and tools ahead of time so that when you sit down you can dive right in.

Stay focused, artists. We need you.

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3 ways to maximize your time.

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3 ways to maximize your time.

As a working artist, getting a hold on your schedule and productivity can be a challenge. In this post we'd like to offer three important facts to consider in order to improve your schedule, create more balance in your days, and therefore, reach your goals.

1) When are you most productive? 
A DELVE Toolkit client of ours came into the first meeting really wanting to change her schedule since she didn't feel like she was being productive enough. When we asked her when she felt most energized and creative, she stated that she was best in the mornings. We proposed changing up her morning routine (which then looked like: checking email, doing busy work, and planning her day) to: diving straight into her productive studio time each morning after walking her dog and having coffee ritual. Her small daily change would allow her to show up everyday to the creative process that her business thrives on and make that work. Emails and bill paying can wait until the afternoon when the creative juices wane.

If you're not a morning person, that is ok. The goal is to determine when you are best at making your work, not doing all the busy stuff that supports it, and make that time sacred.

2) Physically write things down.
Sometimes you need a good old-fashioned piece of paper to drag with you through your day. Write your to dos down on paper so you can cross them out and visually be reminded. Change and reorganize this piece of paper every day, or every few days. Keep it fresh and flowing.

3) Create your daily to-do list the night before, or for the week.
If you start your work time with a set intention, it's way easier to get working. Spend the last fifteen minutes of every day creating that to do list so you can easily pick up where you left off.

The key is to not overcomplicate things. Stay on task and cross things off your list every chance you get. Stay focused!

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Time: your perception and the reality.

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Time: your perception and the reality.

One of the biggest fears we have is not having enough time; enough time to finish a project, get an application written, or a proposal sent out. It's that nagging feeling that you might as well not even try because you'll probably run out of time. Or the realization that the deadline is at midnight, and here it's already 7pm, so why even bother? It's born out of procrastination but also causes procrastination. Have you ever said to yourself "I'm never going to get my materials together in time, so I might as well not even bother?"

Us, too. It happens. But how do you get out of that mindset or rut? 

The key is realizing it is a mindset. Meaning it's in your mind. Anything that's in your mind, you can adjust. If you think about it, there are 2 kinds of time. There is clock time, which is standardized and given (60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, etc.) and then there is the time you feel on any given day. This kind of time is completely based on perception, meaning an hour at the dentist can feel like an eternity, while watching your baby turn 18 can feel like the blink of an eye. So any tasks that you want to fit in for your practice or business can be organized with clock time, but their perception can be adjusted depending on your mental attitude towards them. 

Step one is harnessing and organizing that clock time. 

Here's how:

1. First, you need to know where all of your time is going to begin with. Grab a scheduler (or a calendar), and for one week, write down everything you do and how long it takes. Be honest, and see how much time the various parts of your business or practice take. (This is also a valuable exercise to see what things you're not even doing, even though you know you probably should be doing them). How much time during your week is spent with productive activities that are working towards your goals?

2. Goals? You know you have some, but are they really clearly spelled out for the next month, six months, or year? And we mean really clear, like you know exactly what the goal is, and how it's broken down into achievable tasks over the next few weeks? Next step: write out your goals, and then break them down into manageable pieces or steps.

3. Each piece of that goal should have time assigned to it. This is where a scheduler or calendar actually comes in really handy. A to-do list is great, but what happens is that it becomes longer and longer and then gets overwhelming. Take those to-dos and pencil them into a real schedule with real amounts of time assigned to them. That way you don't have to think about them and have them overwhelm you, unless they are the scheduled task in front of you for the next 30 minutes or hour. Keep that appointment with that task. If you do that, it will actually get crossed off your list! Amazing!

4. Take 10 or 20 minutes at the beginning of each day (or even the night before) to plan the day. Make sure all your scheduled goals are still on track and that the tasks you set for yourself are realistic to accomplish. At the end of your work day, take 10-20 minutes to go through that day's tasks and assess if you've actually accomplished them and if the process went smoothly. If it didn't, assess what went wrong and try to remedy it for next time. (For example, you set one hour to work on your writing, and you got nothing accomplished because you were feeling blocked and spent one hour staring at a blank screen. Next time, start the task with a list of questions you can answer to help you get the writing process started. Start simply, with a question like "What is this project about?")

5. Take a minute before each task to decide what result you want to achieve. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take a minute after each task to determine whether your desired result was achieved. 

This all seems like a lot of work, probably. But once you try it and figure out a way to work it into your routine, time will feel a lot less scary and you'll actually feel like you have a grasp of it–and can possibly even manage it!

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

 

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Overcoming fear.

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Overcoming fear.

Every once in a while, we all encounter a sense of fear in our practices.

Fear of what? Of taking the next step in your career, of trying something new in the studio, of talking to a stranger at an opening, of reaching out to your idol, of putting your work out into the world? And why are we fearful of that? Because of failure. It boils down to the fact that we're all afraid of failing. But what does that mean, exactly? For each of the examples mentioned above, the stakes are of course a bit different. Do any of your fears make you stop in your tracks and feel unable to move forward?

Luckily for all of us, failure is part of the process. And sometimes failure is the best thing that can happen, because it allows you to reassess your situation, your point of view, and your approach. It often leads to new ideas, new ways of working, and new relationships. It is why great things happen, which is why you have to at least try. Nothing happens without trying, and that's the stasis we want to avoid! 

Here are three things to think about when you feel fear creeping in and preventing you from taking a next step:

1) What exactly is it that is making your fearful? Get specific and identify what aspect of the task is preventing you from moving forward. 

2) Talk or write it out. Find someone to confide in, or write it out in your journal. Chances are, once you've listed your specific fears, they will no longer seem so scary or daunting. 

3) If you are feeling fear, switch over to feeling gratitude instead. For example, if you are at an opening and afraid to introduce yourself to someone, instead take a fresh look at the situation and feel grateful to be able to be in the position to make this connection/be part of this artist community/to have seen the great show this person has curated. Chances are, it will change your attitude and point of view, and you'll no longer be afraid to say hi.  

Let us know what fears are holding you back. We want to start a conversation and help you move forward! 

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#IWillDelve, a free 1 week challenge to help you get sh*t done

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#IWillDelve, a free 1 week challenge to help you get sh*t done

One of the hardest things to do as a busy artist is to set aside time to visualize your big career goals. It can be much easier to focus on the tasks at hand than to push ourselves outside the comfort zone and dream big. It can also seem easier to think and fret about making progress and not actually do anything about it. Well, it's time to just take action and make amazing stuff happen.

In this article, “Don’t Underestimate the Simple Power of Writing Down Your Goals,” the author writes, “Having dreams is one thing; actually accomplishing them is quite another, especially given the fact that relentless fantasizing may actually reduce one’s odds of achieving goals.”

Exactly. You need to write them down and make an actionable plan to achieve them. It sounds simple but can be quite daunting. So, we created a challenge to help kick start you into gear.

The #IWillDELVE challenge will help you:

  • Clear your mind and identify your top professional goals
  • Determine the first goal to accomplish that will pave the way to future success
  • Fess up to what is holding you back
  • Make an action plan to achieve your most pressing to dos
  • Find accountability
  • Get a huge goal accomplished in one month’s time!

If you sign up we will also be checking in with you personally to see how things are going. That way you get a little bit of built-in accountability with this challenge.

  

This challenge is free and self-guided, meaning you can sign up at any time. You’ll get a series of emails that will walk you through the steps. But don’t delay, because if you get started now, you know you are on your way to awesome things.

Sign up for the #IWillDELVE Challenge now!

© 2016 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

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