5 Productivity Tips for Procrastinating Artists

By Steff Metal in Art Business Advice > General Art Advice

We’re all guilty of procrastinating. We look at the painting on the easel and decide we’d rather bake cookies, wash the floor or solve complex mathematical equations on the insides of our eyelids. Fortunately, with a few productivity tricks up your sleeve, you can get out of any creative funk.

Productivity tricks are all about finding ways to force yourself to sit down, pick up that brush and dip your hands into that clay and get to work. You usually find that once you get there, sticking with your project is easy. After all, this is art, and you love it!

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Take a look at the following 5 productivity tricks. Each one will help you get your bum in the artist’s chair more often:

1. Set time challenges

I love challenging myself when I’m having a slow day. I set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes, and then I race myself to see how much I can get done in that time. When the timer goes off, I take a step back and take note of my progress. I might take a quick break, then come back and set the timer again.

Even if you only get ten minutes of art done in a day, you’ve still got something to show for your effort—you’re making progress.

2. Make a game of it

A great suggestion from a writer friend of mine is to draw up a game board on a whiteboard or sheet of paper, label each square with one of your tasks, and roll a dice and move around the board. Whatever task you land on, you have to go and do. This is a great way to turn your to-do list into a fun game.

3. Create “artist” hours

Artist hours are like office hours—just a lot more fun. During artist hours you do not do chores, you do not answer the telephone, you do not attend to family whims unless someone has lost a limb. You let your family and friends know your schedule of artist hours, and you spend that time creating art.

4. Set small, incremental goals

Often, we feel overwhelmed by the hugeness of an art project, and so we don’t want to continue with it because we can’t see an end.

To combat this problem, break up your project into small, easily achievable goals. Right now I’m working on a children’s book, and I need to complete at least 30 illustrations. Instead of saying, “oh, I’ve got to finish 10 illustrations by next month,” I say, “I’ll have this page finished by the end of the week.” Smaller goals are easier to manage and help you feel as though you’re making progress.

5. Switch things up

Often, we’re procrastinating on an art project because we feel stuck. We don’t know how to progress any further. And art isn’t quite the same as software development. . . you often can’t simply soldier on and get the job done if the inspiration isn’t there, because the inspiration is what you really need.

So maybe it’s time you changed things up. Get out of your studio and find inspiration in the world—go to an art gallery or walk around the park—or simply approach your piece from a different perspective. Sometimes simply turning my canvas upside down while I paint brings a new lease on life when I’m feeling uninspired.

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