Artist life, Time management

Time management as an artist with a day job

Time management is something I’m constantly working with, and something I will get back to in future blog posts to follow up on my plans. How they worked and what I can change for the better. Apart from creating art, I have a full-time day job in an office. It’s often a challenge to have enough energy for painting, but I’m working on optimizing my days better this year.

Daily routines with level 1 autism/Aspergers syndrome

As a person with level 1 autism/Aspergers, the daily routines often ware me out, and sometimes I simply cannot do anything more than to make a quick and easy meal and binge-watch TV-series when I get home from work. But the days when I do paint or draw after work, I feel so much better. I go to bed feeling happy and content, knowing that I did something for myself that day.

That is why I want to implement more creative time during weekdays, and not only on weekends. At the moment I almost exclusively paint on Saturdays and Sundays, and I really want to change that.

I made changes during 2019, when I decided I wanted more time in the morning, before I headed to my day job. The fact is that I also like to write, and really want to be able to finish my first novel, at some point. That is a whole other discussion, for another time, but the point is that I’m better at writing early in the morning. Before the office work wear me out. So I started to wake up at 4:45 in the morning.

Time blocking

Painting doesn’t demand much from my brain, so I’m theoretically able to do it during evenings. To visualize my days and to stop me from wasting time, I use a simple time blocking system. Time blocking is a very detailed schedule, where one not only write down appointments and work, but also things like hygiene, meals, leisure and so on.

Here is one page from my bullet journal last March, when I first started testing time blocking. It’s in Swedish, but I think you get the point.

The first column is named “plan” and was simply my plan for the day. The next column called “verklighet” means “reality” and showed how my day really went. Quite a difference, and I didn’t create any art that day (which was supposed to be the lavender, “konst”).

I don’t write down every little thing in my new schedule, but not far from it. It is also important to add time for just relaxing, to avoid burnout. Reading is never a waste of time, though. Watching some TV series is also important if that’s what makes one unwind. But it’s very easy to melt into the couch, and not be able to get up. That’s what I’m trying to phase out.

My artist schedule for January 2020

This is my first go at a workday schedule for the rest of the month, starting January 13. I start with only one hour of painting or drawing every evening, since it’s best to start slow. New routines take time. I really should only start with half an hour, but with painting it takes a long time just to get out the art supplies, mix oil paints and so on. If I paint more than an hour – great! I just want that hour to be a minimum.

So an hour an evening seems like the best way to start the year. My goal is to keep that schedule four days a week, at a minimum. I will allow myself one weekday for no productivity as well, for things as laundry, “bad” days and special evenings if needed. At the end of the month I will evaluate the schedule, and see if it’s realistic to add another half an hour in February.

I don’t want to schedule every weekend as I do with the weekdays, because the estimated time varies depending on other stuff, like cleaning, events, visits from family and so on. Sometimes I plan the weekends, but not as a rule.

Time management is fun!

Time management is not something I think is boring or tedious. I actually like it. For a couple of years I have been using a bullet journal, and I’ve been enjoying it. For many months I made really elaborate spreads, with illustrations and “fancy” lettering. Which took a lot of time.

Bullet journal is actually a very simple system, if one uses it the way it was supposed to, by Ryder Carroll. But since I mostly made the same weekly spreads the last few months, I decided to go with a personal calendar (made to order) for 2020 – to save time. 🙂

Planning doesn’t have to take a lot of time. I know that a lot of bullet journalers are like I was, and spend hours and hours making illustrations and super fancy letters. If it’s your hobby, well then – go for it! But if you don’t want to waste time, yet still have a planner that is nice to look at: go with a pre-made one or a calendar that is made to order, according to your own taste.

I created mine on a Swedish website called “Personlig Almanacka(not sponsored), and I bet there are hundreds of sites like it out there, spread all over the world. Just google “personal planner” or a phrase in your own language.

How do you plan your days? Do you use a planner of some sorts, or maybe a bullet journal? Do you plan your creative time? Please let me know in the comments!

I wish you all a creative week ahead, and hope to see you back soon. 💗

/Sara FE

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