Step 1: Find what you love
When we do the things that interest us, challenge or and even scare us, we become impassioned. Why? Because bringing our uniqueness (or "art") to every new challenge, brings us closer to the root of our identity. When we harness the courage to make understanding and pursuing our "art" a priority in our lives, we cannot help but to be productive and fulfilled.
Step 2: Love what you find
Loving your art is easy, but what about the other obstacles of our daily lives? Can you give your love to those things too? If you can, you will amplify your impact and enjoyment. Practicing gratitude and generosity are excellent ways to give love in challenging circumstances. Doing so will make you more effective in the task at hand, and more valuable to the people involved.
Step 3: Plot your course
A plan puts it all out in the open: Who you are, what you're working on, your art, your business, your goals, your next steps, your ideas, your community, your resources, etc. We often address these topics in our journals, notebooks, productivity apps, Google Docs, post-its etc. but however well-intended we are, these ideas often get lost, or linger, and become outdated. While, yes, the big ideas generally stick, our effectiveness suffers.
Keeping a fluid-plan (a centralized and ever-evolving master scroll of your life and business) provides self-awareness at a moments notice. Yes, our goals and perspectives change, and so should our plans. I've re-written my plan at least 40 times this year (almost daily and at least weekly). Always seeking to simplify and steer my life in the optimal direction. Not so much focused on the destination, because destinations change as we learn, but, once again, on the optimal direction based on my present reality (Inspired by Randy Komisar Virtual CEO, quoted in Life Entrepreneurs p. 13).
Here is an outline I use for myself, and with a small group of artists with whom I coach/collaborate with:
- DISCOVER - Who are you? What is your art? What are you currently working on?
- DREAM - What is your mission in life and outline the goals that will get you there. Always remember to assign a due date. Dream about the life you want and record the details in advance.
- CREATE - A platform to communicate your art (Your website/blog/studio etc.). Break your goals into actionable tasks and execute them. Tip: Do the hard ones 1st, as early as possible.
- COMMUNITY - Who are your heroes? Can you turn them into mentors? Define your audience? Clients? Competition, etc.? Don't just write about them, seek them out!
- EDUCATE - Always be learning. Keep track of your favorite books, ones you want to read, online resources, offline courses (classes, forums, etc.) etc.
- PROMOTE - Online & offline. Yourself, your views, and your art. Educate your community on your value and interests and solicit their feedback, positive or negative. Doing so will help you shape your vision.
- PROSPER - Practice financial management, exercise & meditate, and give the gift gratitude and kindness to yourself and others, as often as possible.
- REPEAT, SIMPLIFY & EXPAND - By repeating these steps, you are building awareness and momentum around your life and business, and by simplifying and expanding, you are becoming increasingly effective as you evolve (The Master of your Destiny, Captain of your ship, etc.).
You may even decide to download our latest Journey Plan template here and click here for suggested topics and resources. If you do, please proceed with caution. This is not intended as a cure-all system for everyone, which is why we dedicate so much of our time to hands-on consulting with our clients and interested artists. Your journey in art and entrepreneurship is unique and requires a plan that fits your identity and works for you.
If you have questions, or are interested in meeting, please feel free to reach out anytime here.
Step 4: Seek wisdom
We all need help with knowledge, experience, and resources. Help in any of these areas will accelerate your productivity and joy. Unfortunately, it's easier said than done. We assume that we have enough knowledge and experience to wear all the hats, so we don't form genuine friendships based on trade, we don't delegate responsibility, we don't educate ourselves, and thus we don't acquire the help we desperately need. Here are some ideas we use to help our clients, help themselves:
Lack of knowledge:
- Identify your heroes - Read their blogs, their books and books they recommend, know their heroes, study their lives and embody their best traits.
- Find a mentor - Turning your heroes into mentors is a surefire trick to accellerating your career and identity.
- Educate yourself on your craft, continuously - Read a book per week or more if you can. Take classes and interact with your teachers and fellow students. Organize or join study groups and social clubs.
- Teach others what you know - This is HUGE!!! Teaching people forces you to re-learn and internalize your knowledge. It also pays forward the lessons you've learned from others.
Lack of experience:
- Put your knowledge to work - Get a job in your field, seek out an apprenticeship, volunteer your services, sign-up for a local market, organize a gallery showing, etc. etc. Basically, figure out a way to intersect with your desired peers and audience, seek feedback, and repeat.
Lack of resources:
- Technology - The tools of production and promotion are available to us all. Gaining basic knowledge of these tools will identify the specific areas you need help with. Once you understand your weaknesses, inquire about the costs to compensate others for help and either trade services or save, raise, and invest the funds necessary (see "Money" below)
- Time - Whenever possible, train others in your methods and delegate responsibilities. Get an intern if you can't afford to hire an assistant and give them the gift of trust by delegating real tasks that play to their interests. When partnering with people or teams, don't assume you have to do everything. Present your strengths and ask others to compensate for your weaknesses. Calculated collaboration is a key to productivity.
- Money - If you need money, determine how much you need and either (a) save and invest that amount or (b) prepare a detailed proposal, ask for it (family, friends, grants, kickstarter, etc), and invest. Never let a lack of money stop you! What matters most is that you (a) have a clear direction and (b) have the drive to follow-through on developing a detailed proposal and delivering on your promises. Creating a kickstarter page is an excellent excercise in developing a proposal for investors.
Step 5: Take a deep breath
This idea comes from a brilliant NY Times article written last February by Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project and the author, most recently, of Be Excellent at Anything.
In summary, the puritan model of working all day, for as long as possible, is counterproductive. We burn out. While time is finite, our energy is renewable. Incorporating strategic renewal periods into our work schedules, leads to greater productivity, health and happiness. A few excerpts:
Strategic renewal, including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations, boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health and happiness.
In the 1950's researchers William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered that we sleep in cycles of roughly 90 minutes, moving from light to deep sleep and back out again. They named this pattern the Basic-Rest Activity Cycle or BRAC. A decade later, Professor Kleitman discovered that this cycle recapitulates itself during our waking lives.
Therefore, during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes.
Overriding our bodies clock with caffeine and long hours does nothing but harm. Therefore, schedule your day based on 90 minute work cycles and periodic recovery periods, in which you relax, nap, exercise, or detach from the puritan impulses within ;)
You can read in full here: Relax, you'll be more productive, By Tony Schwartz.
Here's another review with a twist at ChaseJarvis.com:
And a 90 min Daily Planner from Chase and his friend Ben;
(Tip: Print and Laminate for use with a dry erase marker):
In summary, to be more productive and live a fulfilling life:
Find what you love, love what you find, plot your course, get help, and breathe deeply.
Some food for thought.
Great people unite.