Last night, I returned from a wonderful tropical vacation in the Virgin Islands after leaving snowy, gray Idaho for two weeks. After a trip like that I should be recharged and ready to tackle the work I left behind. . . right?
Wrong. In fact, I’m feeling blue.
I am so overwhelmed by the work ahead, that I don’t even know where to start! And before I left town I was on a roll—so what happened?
Obviously, I got out of the habit of working in my studio, dealing with household chores and paying bills. So, to help myself get motivated again, I thought I would give you and myself some good sound advice about creating postive working habits.
A habit (from Wikipedia) is “an acquired pattern of behavior that often occurs automatically.”
Typically, many artists think of habits as being negative. We like to be free thinkers and often fight against structure and rules. But, just like any winning entrepreneur, we must have good working habits in order to be effective and successful artists.
Below, motivational speaker and business coach John Di Lemme explains a habit:
“I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great men. And, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine. Plus, the intelligence of a man. You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin; it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will put the world at your feet. Be easy with me, and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am a HABIT!”
John Di Lemme dreamed of becoming a world famous motivational speaker, even though he stuttered from a very early age through his mid-20’s. For 7 years, John remained focused on his dream. He now runs a marketing team of over 25,000 representatives in 10 countries. He knew that by creating the right habits one could see progression to a higher state.
We all have different ways of doing things—there is no right or wrong way, but there can be better ways. Artists are self-starters, yet without good habits we can float off and lose our focus.
Here are some broad ideas for good habits:
1. Focus on top priorities FIRST (get bills, etc. out of the way)
2. Eliminate the unimportant (anything that doesn’t help you achieve your goals)
3. Plan weekly goals each weekend (write a “to do” list and get the big picture)
4. Plan daily goals each morning (outline the day)
5. Always begin with the end in mind
And here are a few more, specifically for artists:
1. Get into the studio early, with your morning cup of coffee
2. Train yourself to be regular and workmanlike in your creative pursuits
3. Slow down & focus (Don’t take on too much at once)
4. Balance work, rest and exercise into your day
5. Build business relationships on a regular basis
6. Cut down on trivia, busywork, time-wasters, TV, etc (including Twitter or Facebook!)
7. Leave your studio organized and ready for the next day!
The good news is, the more you practice a new behavior, the more of a habit it will be.
Psychologists say that it takes approximately 21 days to condition ourselves to make a habit automatic. A month is a good block of time to work on forming better work habits because it easily fits in your calendar.
Tool your habits towards your goals and the things that motivate you. Imagine the benefits of increased organization and productivity, fewer crises, more life balance and peace of mind. And as always, remember, where you are headed is more important than how fast you are getting there.
Now I just need to practice what I preach!
For more tips and resources from Lori McNee, please visit her blog, Fine Art Tips.
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