Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Art of Self-Discipline

It would be easy to say that poor time management is a special kind of problem for artists. Creative types are sometimes thought of as a little flighty anyway. But I think anyone who works at home suffers from this affliction. Granted, not all artists have studios in their homes, but all of the artists I know personally do. And we are all distracted to some degree by the needs of the household: the dog that needs a walk, the phone ringing, a child that needs a ride home from practice, the laundry spilling over in the hamper, well, you get my drift. And for many people working at home, they are dealing with a certain sense of guilt when these household issues aren't dealt with. Guilt is an unproductive emotion. Not that I'm immune, just that I recognize that guilt is not going to help me keep my house clean, and it certainly isn't helping finish art projects. So now that I have identified the problem, and at least one useless response to it, now what?
Recently I read entries on two different blogs about this. Both by artists, and both set up REALLY rigid schedules for themselves. At least, to me they seemed really rigid (being the floaty, play-it-by-ear type). One is Nikki Wright (see her system here)who has chopped her day into 1/2 hour to 1 hour blocks, in order to accomplish what seems to me to be a Herculean workload. Honestly, I would never consider trying to do that much in a day, and I know that I would chafe under the yoke of a schedule that tight. Another artist that works well under considerably more structure than I can tolerate is Lisa Call. Her blog details how she went from being very structured to being more laid back, and is reverting to the structure. It's how she works best. (see her system here) I read these within a day or two of each other, and though to myself that I was surely lost, because I had no hope of working like that. But as so often happens, synchronicity threw me a bone. I encountered the 20 Hour Challenge.

An artist on Twitter decided to set up a challenge for herself to spend 20 hours a week dedicated to producing her art. It could be structured any way at all, just that she was committing to 20 hours. She asked if other artists might be interested in joining her in the challenge, for their own benefit and to provide support for each other. Well, that sounded right up my alley, so I jumped on it. The deal is this: every Friday afternoon on Twitter, we will report to each other what the result of the week are, what the challenges have been, even do a little show and tell, etc. And no rules against discussions of challenges and need for support in between Friday tweet-ups, of course. We will use the #20hrchallenge hashtag on posts, so that anyone can search for posts by other artists on the subject. Read more about this here from Lori Woodward Simons, the artist with the fabulous idea! If you think a challenge like this would benefit you, join us on Twitter! My account name is @lapetropoulos, and Lori's is @Loriwords. We will officially begin the challenge on Tuesday, May 26 after the holiday weekend, but no reason not to join up now and get the discussions started. See you on Twitter!

Bookmark and Share

Add to Technorati Favorites


  1. Lee Ann:
    Samantha and I are blogging buddies and I had to stop here to tell you that I absolutely adored the comment you left on her recent post.

    You are an incredibly kind and wise woman. And, I know your children benefited from this in ways that are yet to be revealed.

    I'm honored to know you. Thanks for the uplifting and sage counsel you gave to such a one as she!


  2. Aw, Holly, thank you for taking the time to tell me that! I've been following her blog for some time, and find her wise beyond her years. But sometimes you're just too close to a situation, no?

  3. Oh Lee Ann, If you were here I would give you a very BIG hug! Just yesterday I looked around my house and thought about how I should make a schedule to vacuum on Mondays, do bathrooms on Tuesdays, etc. and then realized I would never stick to that schedule! I would SO rebel against the rigidity of my very own schedule! But on the other hand, if I don't have some way to monitor housework against time in studio, I can become paralyzed and get very little done either in the house or in the studio!!!! So.... I am going to join the 20 hour challenge. THANK YOU for posting this and making it available to others. I am happy to give it a try. :-)

  4. Yay Joanne! The more people we have participating, the better the support! I'm so glad you think it will help you.

  5. Lee Ann,

    Glad you found something that works for you.

    Are you planning on writing down your time in the studio so you know if you've made your goal or not?


  6. Well, Lisa, we'll see if it works for me or not! LOL I am marking down start and stop times, and adding them up at the end of the day so that I will know what I've accomplished. So at least there's a little structure, if not an actual schedule. I think I will have to simply tell myself that I will do as much as I can, if I meet my goal, great. If not, my goal was unrealistic, I'll adjust the goal or adjust my other responsibilities to accomodate. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!



Blog Widget by LinkWithin