Art Business: I Don't Have Enough Time

One of the biggest excuses we all have for not doing something is this: I don't have time.

We all have 24 hours in a day, we just choose to use them in different ways. The objective is to use those 24 hours on those things which are most important. How much time is spent watching tv, or surfing the internet? How much time do you actually spend on your art, or on marketing your art? According to Constance Smith, author of Art Marketing 101, of the time that an artist sets aside for art, half that time should be spent on marketing. If you think that's a lot, then work up to it, but do work on marketing your art on a regular basis.

If you don't have a schedule or a daily routine which includes creating your art, begin to adjust that now. Set aside a definite amount of time each week for art and marketing. If you don't, you may be shocked to realize how little time you actually spend on art each week. Make time one or two days a week for marketing, and not on the same days that you are creating your art. When you are creating, totally focus on your art without any other distractions.

Once you start showing in a gallery or art festival, you may realize that you aren't producing enough art to keep the show fresh. This is a good sign that you need to spend more time focusing on your art. Just do it! I can finish up to three paintings a week, depending on the time I put into it, whereas before I began disciplining myself, it would take 3 to 6 months to finish one painting.

What keeps you from getting to your art? Too much housework? A job? Kids? Too tired to focus? Start fine tuning your schedule. Figure out what your time-eaters are. These often include computers, tv, phone, and even reading books. I was reading up to 85 books a year, but complained that I had no time for art. I still read, but reading is now a reward for AFTER I have painted.

Housework will always need to be done. Find a stopping point, such as on art day, do a load of laundry, a load of dishes, and vacuum the floor, and then you can start painting. If you have a job, you really have to discipline yourself in your nonworking hours to devote your time to art. But if you are going to get anywhere with an art business, you have to put in the time and energy. If you are too tired, make sure you are getting to sleep at a decent hour. Turn off the TV, computer, or phone. Take a walk earlier in the day, and it can help you sleep. Make sure you are eating properly so you have enough energy. Sometimes it takes just working through the tiredness and just getting in there and doing it, and all of a sudden you have more energy. Setting a timer also helps. Sometimes I will set a timer for an hour of painting, then take a break and do a little housecleaning, then head back to painting again.

I have a hard time getting into my studio to paint. I need  a block of at least two to three hours of solid painting, without interruptions, to feel like I have really accomplished something. I have kids and a husband. I homeschool one of my kids. I get interrupted. I have a house that needs constant attention. Working from my studio at home is somewhat sporadic, but right now I have scheduled to get in two 8 hour days a month painting at a gallery outside my home, and I try to get a few hours painting each week at home. I also spend a few hours each Saturday on marketing, which includes updating my blog, website, and listing art for sale, and tax preparation. I also look for online competitions, regional shows and festivals, and apply for them. How can I make better use of my time?

Some ideas for myself include getting up earlier to get to the gym, set a time and date where I have to go into my studio and create, put a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door and teach the family to respect that, avoid the computer and phone, delegate housecleaning responsibilities to other family members, and make lists of what needs to be done and when. I am a list person, lists help me think and proceed in a timely manner.

What it boils down to is that you are the only one who knows the chaos in your life, and it's up to you to reign it in to make time for art. No more excuses. Make a monthly goal, a to-do list, schedule, use a timer, find what works best for you and go do it.

There are many books and websites on time management and organization, including:
Time Management for the Creative Person by Lee Silber
Breaking Through the Clutter by Judith Luther Wilder
Working Smart: How to Accomplish More in Half the Time by Michael LeBoeuf


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