9 Ways to Trade Procrastination & Perfection for Progress & Productivity

By Aletta de Wal in Art Business Advice > A-Z Art Marketing Guide

Welcome back to “The ABC’s of Art Marketing”—an alphabet guide to marketing your art, from A to Z.

In today’s article I’ll be focusing on the letter “P” for Perfection and Procrastination. That’s right. . . those two pesky things that keep you from progress and productivity. :)

And let me say right up front, I work with many artists, and none of them are lazy or unmotivated. If anything they work harder and want more than most people. Yet I understand when that search for perfection gets in the way of progress.

You see, I too have been told countless times that “there is no such thing as perfection.” Still, I (secretly) crave the fewest faults or flaws and the best quality in everything I am, do, and have. I just love that warm glow of emotion I get when I say “Perfect!” at the end of a task or project. . . and I know I’m not alone in that.

I’m also pretty sure I’m not alone in procrastinating on things because I feel inadequate to the task or just lack the time, money or energy to achieve perfection. And then I feel guilty and not-quite-good-enough when I see that long list of “overdue” projects in my work planner.

So when I’m dragging my heels on something, I’ve learned that I need to leave behind my search for perfection, and stop procrastinating.

How, you ask? By changing my focus.

If you’re struggling with this problem yourself, here are nine ways to choose productivity and progress (instead of those other two “P” words) as you create art, run your art business, and market your work.

Creating art

1. Have multiple works of art “in progress” at one time

As the paint dries on one, you can be laying down the groundwork for another—after all, if you’re in the zone, why not keep it going?

And if you have a creative vapor lock on one piece, there’s always something else to take a fresh look at (which often that gives your brain the time to work on the block in the first piece.)

2. If you hit a serious creative block, switch to maintenance

Maintaining your studio and tools are essential to good art making, but they can help in other ways, too. While you’re cleaning up or reorganizing, you’ll still have the art you’re stuck on in your peripheral vision, and your subconscious mind will be working its way through any problems.

You may have a eureka moment and know exactly what to do next on that partcular art piece—at the very least, you’ll have a cleaner studio.

3. Take classes in a new media or subject matter

You’ll not only learn new art skills and meet other creative people, but you might even discover the next phase of your current media, or make a switch. You’ll always be challenged, which is definitely worth it!

Running your art business

4. Clean up your paper files

A new year and preparation for taxes is a great time to get rid of clutter. All that paper gathering dust feels like the physical equivalent of procrastination, doesn’t it? Go ahead, set up new files for the year and face the future instead of the past.

5. Switch to electronic files

You may still have some paper records, but try to eliminate most of them and you’ll be in better shape at the end of this tax year.

Obviously you’ll need to keep receipts, but if you scan them for your own records, you can then submit the originals to your accountant as needed and—presto!—more efficient use of space and easier filing.

6. Delegate

Anything that you don’t like doing (or feel that you do poorly) is a potential land mind of procrastination.

The good news is, there’s always someone out there who can do the job better, faster, and even likes that kind of work. You’re better off making more art and finding new buyers—which generates income—than filing receipts. So find a sidekick, and delegate!

Marketing your artwork

7. Follow the 80/20 rule

Pareto’s law says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. Take a look at the art marketing actions you took last year and note which ones got the best results. If you feel brave, eliminate everything that produced little or no results.

After all, why waste time on marketing that doesn’t work?

8. Keep an idea book

Don’t trust those great flashes of insight and great ideas to your memory. . . instead, keep a notebook and pen with you at all times—large enough to write in but small enough to fit in your pocket.

(I can hear you saying your smart phone would be better. Maybe it’s easier for storage, but the act of drawing or writing by hand tends to be more productive. Still, to each their own!)

9. Focus on relationships

Relationships are the bedrock of sales.

Not your art.
Not your website.
Not your postcards.

Those are great promotional tools, but they’re just there to create new relationships, or improve existing connections and turn interest into action.

You’ll always need these tools, but keep your eyes on the prize—wonderful individuals who like your art well enough to buy your work AND tell others about it or represent you. Build those relationships and your marketing efforts will return huge dividends.

Oh, and full disclosure—I was procrastinating on finishing this article so I set a firm deadline and did a draft. Then I showed what I’d written to my partner and he made a few suggestions so I could finish.

My quick takeaway? Getting an outside perspective is another fantastic ways to push through procrastination and make some progress.

Follow the links below to read more articles in “The ABC’s of Art Marketing”—an alphabet guide to marketing your art, from A to Z:

A – Appreciating your Audience

B – Building your Business Base

C – Communicating Clearly, Consistently and Cleverly

D – Diversifying Your Delivery

E – Educate, Entertain, Engage, Enrich, and Evolve

F – Fostering Friendly Familiarity

G – Give to Gain

H – Hiring Help

I – The 5 “I’s” of Art Marketing

J – Joining Juried Shows

K – Creating Good Karma

L – Listening and Learning

M – Mastering your Marketing Messages

N – Negotiating 101

O – Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

P – Procrastination & Perfection (current article)

Q – Quality & Quantity: Creating Art that Sells

R – 8 Rules to Improve Your Artist/Collector Relationships

S – S is for Sales

T – 30 Ways to Say “Thank You”

U – Switching from “I” to “Us”

V – Volunteering in the Art World

W – Write, Write, Write!

Y – Just Say Yes

Z – Zen, Zoom, ZigZag & Zowie


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