Optimize Your Time

Stop saying you don’t have enough time.

It’s exhausting to hear that excuse over and over again, and you’re wasting time just thinking or saying those words. They’re unproductive.

Harriete Estel Berman
Harriete Estel Berman, Winning the Race with Time. Recycled tin, sterling silver, 2.5 x 3.5 x .25 inches. ©The Artist

You have just as much time as everyone else. It’s up to you what you do with that time.

It’s also up to you how you frame the time you have.

You can embrace the important stuff and be happy to participate in life, or you can complain about wanting more.

The choice is yours.

How are you spending your time?

Instead of wading through outdated tweets on Twitter . . .
Pull out your note cards (with your art on them) and a pen, and write a thank-you note or birthday greeting to a deserving soul.
Instead of getting caught up in everyone else’s lives on Facebook . . .
Make a lunch appointment to get out of the house or studio. Network! Be inspired by spending time with a friend or colleague.
Instead of watching Dancing with the Stars . . .
Dance among the stars. Attend art openings and open studios. Introduce yourself and talk to people!
How are you spending your time? I want to hear about your priorities, and what might be getting in the way.

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20 thoughts on “Optimize Your Time”

  1. Love this one! In fact one thing I’ve learned from a task list (from your GO class!) is how to prioritize. It is great when you get that big thing done, fill in 10 min breaks with little things, and have nearly your days tasks done. I think half the battle isn’t that there’s enough time, but we think some things take more time than they really do. Plus the tasks left, yes they usually really can wait until the next day. Or the next. (as for Dancing with the Stars – or Planet Dinosaur in my case – there are so many things that can be done *while* watching if you do want an hour’s entertainment. Website updates, blog entries, writing cards, listing online, editing images, etc)

  2. Alyson, you are one of the most amazing people out there, especially with using your time well! This is my first time posting on this blog, and I was inspired to do so because I have a little story to share. Six years ago I left a full-time job in medical research that was very demanding and stressful. However the salary was good so I stuck with it for eight years. Prior to that I was a full-time artist and quite successful, but also somewhat lazy and prone to wasting my time… That job in the lab taught me what it was like to work hard, 9-5, and to really earn your income!! So when I went back to being an artist I determined to not waste a moment, to work very hard the full day, and to make myself successful again. To even earn as much as I had in the lab! That is not easy for an artist–a salaried job is almost always better for making money. But I was determined to prove that I could do it, partly just to ensure that if I ever lost my husband I could be self-supporting. I do not like the idea of being a fanciful female artist living off her husband…
    I diversified my activities into creating paintings, teaching watercolor, and picture framing. Finally I am almost there with the income, but probably working twice as hard as I did in the lab!! However, it is so much more gratifying to be my own boss and be in charge of how I use my own time. Those eight years in the lab were a good lesson for me, and helped me not take my time for granted. I have blossomed as an artist as a result of the painting and teaching, and have made a real come-back in my career. I hope this is a useful story for someone out there. The bottom line–don’t take your time for granted!!

    1. Great story, Susan. Thank you for taking the time to tell it! Your art is gorgeous and your gallery is to-die-for beautiful!
      And Alyson, you are so correct in your assessment of time usage, particularly in your newsletter.
      When I read a new blog, if the first post says “Sorry I haven’t posted for awhile because I’ve just been too busy” – CLICK, I’m gone. Guess that makes me mean; but, I’m too busy to read excuses! 😎

    2. Jana: Not mean. No one should ever start any type of writing with an apology – unless something egregious has been done to the readers.

    3. Alyson Stanfield

      Susan: Thank you for opening up and sharing this story. I’m delighted that you took the time to leave your mark here. You’ve obviously inspired others who have read your comments.

    4. Thank you for this story Susan. I am in a similar situation right now! I really appreciate the firm facts to keep me motivated! Your work is stunning!

  3. Susan, I love your story. Alyson, your words ring so true! I am a mom of 8 with 6 children ages 3 – 18 still at home and we homeschool. It’s taken time and developing my self-discipline, but I paint almost three hours a day and take painting lessons from a fantastic painter and teacher 2 – 3 times a week.

    1. Beth: You are living proof that it can be done. 6 children at home?!!! Home-schooled???
      Moms are amazing, but it’s so important that being a mom is never an excuse. Not good for your art career or for your kids. I’m glad you have managed to nurture both.

  4. Wow – very inspirational stories! Thanks all, especially Susan and Beth. I’m a college adjunct/middle school adjunct art teacher; the subjects I teach at the college level are a bit weighty and my middle school students change with each quarter. But I’m getting more artwork done than ever while I become more familiar with the academic material and more flexible with my time. I’ve found that I wasn’t really that interested in watching TV, spending most of my time clearing the academic jungle so when the weekend rolls around (that starts on Thursdays), I’m painting like crazy.

  5. Great post, Alyson. I am still working on the whole time management thing. I think the biggest impact for me began last year was when I killed a huge time-waster and that was television. Initially it was for budgetary reasons, however it is unbelievable the amount of time that gets sucked away watching lame TV programs. Now I use that time to work on my art, and learn about marketing and social media.
    I am still involved in a lot of activities in the community and church. I am trying to get into the habit of learning to say “no” and prioritizing certain things. Hard to do sometimes because I just want to do everything.

    1. You’re right, Ani. TV is a time-killer. Sometimes I think it’s valid to kill time. Everyone needs downtime. And after reading and researching all day, I often don’t get a break by reading more. Sometimes I want to totally tune out with the boob tube. But not too much! Then it just feels icky.

  6. I am a mixed-media textile artist who also provides a quilting service to local quilters. I learned several years ago that I had to carve out some time every day–it started out as just one hour–for ‘my’ work. I could spend that time entering shows (a big part of my marketing plan), going to a museum, designing, practicing techniques, or creating work. If I missed a day or two, I made it up later that week. It was a great habit to get into. I created more work in the first 2 years than I had in the previous 5 years with that one small step.

  7. Top priority for my time is taking care of my mother who is in the fourth quartile of Alzheimer’s and is very frail due to other health problems. As the disease progresses more and more of my time is taken up with this. It is the choice I have made to keep her home as long as possible. Given Connecticut’s Elderly Home Care Program, I envision this could be made possible even after she needs 24 hour nursing. We’ll see. I have procrastinated in sending back the form for Masonicare. I’m not sure why.
    Following that are taking care of my adjunct classes and taking care of the various emergencies that seem to be in fashion this season. Then taking care of the business aspects of being an artist and actually creating. Finally comes sleep. I need more but who doesn’t. Once a month I go to a support group meeting for caregivers and that is one of those things that has saved my sanity and so is a very high priority. I also take myself out for lunch just before I do the grocery shopping (and other errand running). I go to one of two family owned places (one is where my mural is) where I’m known and feel especially welcomed.
    I have stopped berating myself for not getting as much done as others seem to get done in the same amount of time as this is just another time waster. I know I’m am doing the best I can in some very harrowing circumstances. (I’ll just add a bit cryptically that I absolutely loathe the health insurance industry and the cruel complexities of the Medicare system. How do elders without anyone around manage this nonsense?!)

  8. Busy is the theme of my life these past few months, and while I often do say that I am when someone asks how I am doing, I also follow it with, “But I am not complaining because I am doing all the things I always wanted to do!”
    I am adjunct teaching six courses this semester, a load I took on to get more experience and to get my foot in the door at a few places – I won’t do that again for sure! It’s left me with little time to actually make work since the end of August, but I have not been idle in my artistic pursuits. I finally got my email newsletter going and have put out two issues, I’ve sent my work out for a couple out of town exhibitions (one overseas!, with a long drive to NC next weekend for another gallery), and I have been sending work out for consideration for future exhibitions. I am also pleased to announce that I will be renting a beautiful studio space with a good friend of mine starting in December – until now I have been making due in a small room in the basement and at the dining room table since we’ve lived in our house (going on five years).
    Once the semester is over (and maybe before then, we’ll see!), I’ll be happily back playing in the studio waiting to hear if anyone bites on my full-time teaching applications. 🙂

  9. Pingback: 5-Minute Social Media Tasks for the Week — Art Biz Blog

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Get a transcript of episode 182 of The Art Biz (Rethinking Mailing Lists for Artists) followed by a 3-page worksheet to evaluate the overall health and usage of the 3 types of artist lists.

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