Low on Brain Cells? 6 Brainless Business Actions

Sometimes you just don’t feel like using another precious brain cell.
You’re wiped. Your creative juices are spent.

©2012 Mel Ristau, At the Start of a New Day. Pigmented digital print.
©2012 Mel Ristau, At the Start of a New Day. Pigmented digital print. Used with permission.

Here are some brainless business actions you can take when you don’t have the energy to think too much.

1. Organize Image Files

Most of us get lazy with our digital images. It’s too gosh-darned easy to take a lot of pictures and keep them on your seemingly endless disk space. But they soon become clutter.
In your down time, you can rename your images with titles that are much easier to find because they are descriptive.
You can also take the time to organize, delete, and reorganize your image filing system.

2. Upload Images

Upload new images of your art, your openings, and yourself to your website or social media sites. You don’t have to publish them as the descriptions and text might require more neurons than you’re willing to ignite. Just uploading the images is a step in the right direction.

3. Update Your Lists

Keeping your contact list and email list fresh with new people you’ve met is an ongoing task that is, I admit, not glamorous. But it has to be done. You don’t want to spend a lot of time updating your list when an event is on the horizon, and you have more important things to do.
Adding names to your lists in bits and pieces will pay off.
Artist Conspiracy member Mary Gilkerson shared her secret in the forums: “I've set my database to open as soon as the computer is turned on, which reminds me to do a little bit every day.”

4. Trash Old Files

This might be my favorite brainless task of all. Open up your documents folder on your computer and behold! I’ll bet you find a lot of files and folders that you no longer use or need. Dump them!
If you want to retain files that are out of date, create an Archives folder. I have one inside almost every folder on my computer. When something is no longer timely, I drop it in the Archives folder. For instance, I archive past workshops, audio programs I no longer sell, and classes I no longer teach.
Do the same with your paper files, recycling what you choose to get rid of.

We do a lot of dumping, filing, and straightening up in the Get Organized class, which starts 2 weeks from today. Join us if you're anxious to start punching that Delete key.

5. Back Up Your Computer

There are too many heartbreaking stories of artists who have lost everything because their computer crashed, and they had no back-up copies of data. Backing up must be a habit. Put it on your calendar as a regular commitment.
Store your critical files – including image files – offsite or in the cloud.

6. Interact on Social Media

Proactively find good people to follow and say nice things about on your social media site of choice.
On Facebook, comment on other pages as your page so that you’re mingling with others as your business. This allows you to clock in some marketing time without having to put too much thought into it.
What are your favorite brainless actions?

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33 thoughts on “Low on Brain Cells? 6 Brainless Business Actions”

  1. Thank you for that very insightful and helpful post. I agree that even the tinyist amount is still better than noting at all. Thank you Artbiz! Glenn

  2. Great post, Alyson! I like what you say about doing things in little steps, it reminds me of what psychologists say about exercising; you should put your sneakers in front of your bed, so the first thing you do in the morning is trip over them! Then you might say you don’t want to go jogging today, and that’s fine, but at least you make a CONSCIOUS choice, instead of putting it off for “someday”. You should set the “sneaker trap” again, so you’ll have to make a choice on the next morning again, and things might feel different 🙂

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Stefan: Yes! I rarely go on my walk unless I’m dressed in my walking clothes.

  3. Jacqueline Bryant Campbell

    Such a familiar feeling. I don’t just delete things from the computer, I straighten up the studio — file papers, throw things away, shred some stuff. It makes me feel a lot better!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Jacqueline: It’s funny how not being productive makes us actually feel bad.

  4. I am now declining all new invitations to share/join any new excitingly new networking site/art community forum/interactive gallery etc…
    Because quite frankly they have all failed to attract more visitors to my website or added a single extra sale.
    Having upgraded my record keeping systems as Alyson recommends above, here, I am now concentrating on just simply being an artist and just getting on with the art.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Meltemi: But you still have to connect with people. You can’t just do art and expect to build a following. It’s great if you’re doing that in person instead of online.

    2. It takes me all morning just to ‘manage those existing connections’ so it’s got to be quality not quantity. People are always important in my world. These ‘New Networking Sites’ add little to the visitor number on the website.

  5. Filing, shredding recording receipts… when my creative juices are gone these are some activities that make me feel like I’ve accomplished something – no artistic angst about “quality” or “meaning” involved!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Michelle: I’ll add cleaning up bookkeeping to the list. That’s what I did today. Super boring, but necessary.

  6. Jacqueline Webster

    I’ve been doing a lot of this lately. My husband’s been home sick, I’m fighting off the flu and feeling run down – these are all great tasks that help me accomplish important things for my business when I can’t stand on my feet in the darkroom for hours on end.

    1. Jacqueline Webster

      My fave is researching opportunities, but since I bought eArtist I tend to fall back on working on cataloging my work when I’m feeling uninspired as well. Both are important and make me feel like I’m making progress.

  7. I rip out the pages of magazines that I have read, are ads, or I’m not interested in. Then, before I recycle, I cut or tear our colors , designs, or font / layouts that I might use in a mixed media project, or save do inspiration in colors for polymer work.

  8. Right now I am laid up with a broken painting wrist, so it’s not so much that my creative juices are spent, but that it’s just too darn painful to even try to paint with the other hand. So I’ve decided to get caught up on all of those tasks I have fallen behind with, including 5 years of inventory. Oh what a nasty and boring task that was, but, IT IS DONE ! I am up to date. I’ve also updated my website. Now on to developing new workshops, presentations and lesson plans. I’m getting good at typing with only my right hand too. The tasks should all be done by the time I’m out of the cast. Then there will be lots of space for inspiration!

  9. Great, Alyson, it’s so important to recognize that sometimes it happens that our creative juices ARE spent!
    I call these brainless tasks ‘Taking the Least Line of Resistance’. They’re also good to do if we get creatively blocked because it’s empowering to do stuff that helps move our creative lives forward even if only on an organisational level.
    My favourites are preparing painting surfaces – boards and journal/altered book pages – and writing. For some reason, my writing brain cells can often still be activated when my art-making ones have shut down 🙂 Cleaning the studio usually indicate I’m about to start creating something new!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      WildC: Yes, that’s a good non-office task. I should write (or maybe get a guest post) on brainless studio tasks.

  10. Hi Alyson,
    I do all of the above but another favorite is to clean up the studio! When I can’t seem to get going on a new project I putter around straightening, cleaning, rearranging, and thinking all the while. Once I finally have all my supplies set up and I am before an intimidating blank canvas I start cleaning the lids and tops of all my paint tubes. This is a good thing as they tend to get gobbed up and very messy even though I am a pretty neat painter. All the while, as I said, I’m thinking about the project and finally work and straighten and clean up my way to actually putting a stroke on the canvas and I’m ok!

  11. Feb and March blues, brainless is right, I’ve lost it, but I am drawing a lot and working on the figure, but not much paint is flying around. I needed this reminder,
    and I love the way Alyson expects us to just a little work on these oddities instead of
    expecting a full tilt effort. I get up and get going like any artist with periods of intense thought, work, and thinking, I need one now and I’m looking forward to it. I will backpack in the warm desert and paint pictures out there, that should get me back on the progress trail. I have to go ski now!

  12. Christine Sauer

    I also keep a list of artists, galleries and museums that I want to research online so I do that in addition to the above mentioned when I am noodling about.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Oh, that’s good, Christine. How do you keep that list so that it’s in one place?

    2. Christine Sauer

      Well…I do it the old fashioned way..pen and paper list next to computer so it’s always in my field of vision. My organization style is that if it’s not in view I don’t remember it. I favorite alot which also works. I suppose I could put it in evernote!!(Ha!)

  13. Alyson Stanfield

    All: It’s ironic – or perhaps not – that as soon as this was published, my brain power disappeared. Almost lost a whole day trying to figure something out. I was determined that I should be able to get to the bottom of this dilemma I’m having about delivering my newsletter and blog posts and how they work together (or not).
    I’ve been struggling with this for a long time, so I couldn’t wrap it up in a single day. But I’m closer. And I got some piddly stuff done.

  14. I like the idea of preparing surfaces, or in my caseaeybe conditioning clay, as that will get me in touch with the medium. I don’t tend to do that

  15. “Something is better than nothing” i always follow this. You have explained a better way to lower down the work pressure. I’m having lots of pictures which are waiting to be posted on net. Now, I’ve decided to upload them on net. Thank you very much 🙂

  16. I like to spend time with my art books and art magazines seeking new palette and composition ideas for my next painting. I get excited about new challenges and bookmark them with notations on the end of the bookmarks. My favorite magazine, well worth the cost, is “American Art Review”.

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