Artist Time Management - Why Paint at 4:30am?
I've always, well except for the teen years, been an early bird. Even in college, I would open the gym at 5:00 am for patrons to start their morning workout. I thought that was a youth thing, but it turns out I just love the mornings. Well, I will also say, I love the solitude of the mornings. It is my time to prepare for the day.
I admit, it took me about 2 weeks to acclimate to move my wake up time from 6 am to 4:30 am, but now that the dogs and cats are used to it, I really have no choice to continue, which is a good thing. :)
Why did I do it? I found that I wasn't having enough time to paint because of my family commitments and business networking commitments and Huntsville Art League President commitments - everyone was getting my time but me! And I was getting pissed about it cause there was no time left for me. So, I sat down and figured out my pain points, what was working and what I wanted. Here are a couple of examples of what I came up with.
What was working:
- Time blocking: segment time to deal with Huntsville Art League commitments, and business networking commitments. Instead of offering up my week for people to pick and choose times, I designated Thursday for meetings for art league and networking, thereby eliminating time in the car and nickel and dime my time. Time blocking worked!
What wasn't working:
- Kids Morning Routine: I was yelling at the kids every morning for the same freaking things: brush your teeth, brush your hair, put away dishes, socks and shoes, turn off the lights, hang up the towel...(My God, they are should know this crap by now!)...major stressor in the morning.
- "I'm Bored": My daughter's need to be constantly entertained; heaven forbid I get on the phone, or computer while she was home - the result was a guilt trip from her, followed by a disappointed face, and her saying "all I do is work" - which in turn resulted in an angry mom.
- Not enough time for creative time and thinking. While the time blocking was working well with the Huntsville Art League, I was finding they were taking up too much time for a volunteer position and it was distracting me from my art and life. I was missing creative time and family time. I had to fix this.
What was missing?
- A Focus on My Business: I had goals at the beginning of the year for my art business, I let myself get sidetracked with Huntsville Art League President role and forgot about managing my growth, obtaining additional revenue streams and growing the print side of the business. There are a ton of opportunities there.
- Paint time! For several months, I was logging maybe 2 hours a week in painting! Painting is my refuge, my time to live in my head and create something from nothing without this time I get angry, short-tempered, and, in short, no good to anyone!
So obviously I needed to make some changes, my attitude was going south.
So what did I tackle first? I tackled What wasn't working with a focus on what was missing.
The kids' morning routine: I literally sat down and typed out the kids' morning routines with checkboxes. They had 15 things they needed to get done every morning, I would score the results and give them a grade each morning. The percentage at the end of the month is the percentage of $25 they would receive.
I had them review the tasks, we updated it to resolve any questions they may have and then I printed and laminated it. They both placed them on their doors.
I know that sounds a bit insane, but what is actually insane is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. And I'm telling you it worked! They had written instructions and written expectations that were measurable and quantifiable. It worked the 1st day and on. All I would have to say in the morning is, "be sure to review and complete your checklist". OMG!, I wish I would've thought of this 6 years ago!!! I did something similar for the "I'm Bored" scenario; I put together a list of activities for each, including cleaning countertop, cleaning windows....surprisingly they actually like cleaning windows - who knew!
This even lead to a Saturday Morning Chore list! After all, I work too (although I have to say, being a mom and a President at the Huntsville Art League are non-paying positions which means I get easily taken advantage of and these responsibilities are easily ignored by everyone but me - just saying). So the kids got a checklist, hubby and I got ours too. No more yelling and there was more of a division of responsibilities = TIME IN MY DAY!!!
Not enough time for creative time and thinking. The first thing I did was write down my current daily schedule and started noticing a couple of things; 1) I'd let the computer suck my time away 2) after 8:30 pm I did nothing but sit on the couch, have a glass of wine and munch on food - in other words, I wasted time. But I'm not a night painter, for some reason, I just can't do it... This led to the solution, go to bed early - why sit around, and gain calories. The solution, get up early.
It took me a couple of weeks to really get used to it, but I can tell you, I'd go to bed looking forward to waking up! I'd dream about what I'd paint! I had to adjust a couple of things to not disturb my hubby and the kids: I used my watch as my alarm on vibrate and I'd set the coffee pot to go off at 4:20. For the first week, my hubby kept asking why am I getting up so early - it seemed odd to him that I'd get up to paint - but he did notice a significant difference in my attitude, so he let it be.
So why paint at 4:30 am? It is time that I've carved out in my life for me, for my sanity, and to be a better person for everyone else who needs my time. If you'd like to find more time in your day, the Positive Painter Members have access to a Time Management worksheet in the Art Business Resources to start evaluating what is working, what is not working and what is missing, see down below and additional article 😀 👇