What’s on your calendar for the New Year?
I’m not talking about your appointment calendar. I’m talking big picture. What are you doing that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and get to work?
If there's not much there, it's time to get busy. You can’t earn more money or increase recognition without exhibitions and events on your schedule.
You can use a desk or desktop calendar for appointments, but for this job you want to get a clear overview of your year’s rhythm.
You’re looking for periods that you know will be particularly busy and others when you might be able to sneak away for a well-deserved vacation.
You also want to watch out for too much overlap on your calendar. There might be events you’d like to schedule, but might bump up against others that are already in place.
It’s confusing to schedule events that occur too close to one another.
Overbooking is confusing to your fans and followers because everything looks to have the same level of importance. They don’t know which message to pay more attention to.
It’s also confusing to you because you’re promoting more than one thing at a time. You don’t know how and where to spend your energy.
There are numerous ways to plan your year so that you can envision its rhythm. Here are the two most important ones that I use: the wall calendar and the timeline.
1. The Wall Calendar
The framework for all of my planning is a wall calendar so that I can see the entire year at once.
I’ve shared previously that I love the Seize The Year calendar by Neuyear. Its biggest asset is that it can be displayed either vertically or horizontally.
Using dry-erase markers, I color code the calendar with these categories:
- Major events, such as Art Biz Breakthrough
- Program launches
- Program start/end dates
I encourage you to include both personal and business events on a single calendar because you have to make everything fit within the 365 days. Two calendars would mean that you’re constantly checking between the two in order to avoid double booking.
Get yourself a wall calendar if you don’t already have one.
2. The Timeline
The wall calendar isn’t enough for me. I also like to see everything on a horizontal timeline.
Remember that I’m an art historian by training. Making a lot of hand-drawn timelines is how I memorized dates and how I planned our exhibition schedule at the art museum.
I still love to see my year this way. I've been known to plot my year in a similar visual timeline using a spreadsheet.
Looks pretty good, huh?
Big BUT and this is important: I can’t stand spreadsheets. I spent too much time making them look pretty.
If you don’t like a tool, search for a way to do the same task that is more palatable for you. You’ll use it more frequently and effectively if you are happy on the journey.
**Note of caution: Don’t spend too much time looking for the perfect tool. Looking for the perfect tool often ends up being an excuse for not doing the work.
I now prefer using my iPad Pro and fancy Apple Pencil with the Notability app. I needed the timeline to be electronic so that I could share it with people and this seemed like an easy way to get it out fast.
Tweak Your Calendar
After you have everything plotted out on your calendar and/or timeline, here are some questions to answer for tweaking the dates:
Do you have enough time in between commitments to promote and to refill your well of inspiration?
Which items on your calendar are more important than others?
Which items on your calendar need more promotional or lead-time?
Where do you need down time or longer breaks?
How could you massage your schedule to make your year easier and (this is important) more fun?
Please share how you plan your year in a comment below.