Becoming a Productive Artist

Becoming a Productive Artist - student project

This semester, I seem to have the inverse problem that everyone else has - I have too much time on my hands. I just graduated and will be studying to get another degree in June, but until then, I'd like to do a lot of things. And thankfully, I've got a lot of time to do them! Unfortunately, this also means it'll be really easy to slack off since I have no accountability or pressing deadlines whatsoever.

As I'll be studying animation and concept art (and will be honing my skills until then), I do a lot of creative work. For this reason, putting tasks into time chunks and scheduling every minute of every day worked terribly for me. Working over a certain time chunk often meant I was being very productive, but it messed up my whole day and I didn't know how to manage things from the moment I was a little off. I've also tried setting monthly deadlines (like have 3-4 illustrations per month), which also worked badly because it was just too long for me to remember to put in the daily effort.

However, there were two things that have worked for me in the past. 1) The Ivy Lee method, which basically consists of not having over six tasks in a day, and 2) the Pomodoro technique. Knowing that, I considered the things I wanted to do daily and the things I could do more sporadically and arranged that accordingly.

As a quick summary, my daily tasks include studying art, producing art, Bible studies and reading. Reading was definitely something I was failing at tremendously, and I've been having this horrible pang of guilt seeing books I wanted to read piling up. To help remedy this issue, I put the three books I want to read most on my desk so I won't be switching too often and not really finish anything. My weekly but not daily tasks include going to the gym (4 times a week), cooking and marketing online. As an independent artist, I have to invest quite a lot in social media as of now if I want to work as a freelancer in the future. Something I took into consideration was that some things I thought would be very fast actually take up a lot of my time, like looking up recipes, so they need to be written down. 

Now about actually separating my time. As I've mentioned, I cannot work effectively with strict time blocks. However, one thing I noticed is that I often visualise my day by three chunks - morning, afternoon, evening. Mostly because of a cultural aspect (Brazilians have one hour lunches, and meals are a much bigger deal here), so to me, a meal was a guaranteed large break everyday, so it helped me transition into a different category of tasks.

So here it is! The little paper that's going to stare at me everyday for the next few months (with possible adaptations, if necessary).

The Lighthouse is a personal project I'd like to finish by June. The asterisks (*) indicate the minimum amount of Pomodoro sessions I should invest. No asterisks means I already know more or less how long it takes, so it's usually the less creative tasks. As you can probably see, there's plenty of free time, which is to accommodate more creative work. For example, I might feel like working on my personal project on afternoons and have lots of ideas for it, so I can definitely fit that in without sacrificing well needed studies, which is what I would often do.

Feel free to leave critiques, as well! Sorry for the huge text, but life is complicated, and if it wasn't, we wouldn't be trying to understand and organize it, right? I'll also try and give an update in a few weeks regarding how well it's worked!

Edit (Dec. 14): Mike made a great point on color coding, so I've grouped tasks by color. For example, reading and Bible studies go together or art production and my personal project since they're similar tasks. Here's the printed version with the bullet journal spread so I can remember it on the go!