The Art Biz ep. 101: Simplifying to Improve Your Productivity with Amelia Furman

Why do we make things so difficult for ourselves sometimes? We don't mean to. It's our nature to appreciate simple solutions that we can quickly grasp and execute.

This topic came up back in episode 96 when I talked with Jill Soukup about what she has done to increase profitability and happiness while reducing the things that lead to frustration and stress.

I think we unnecessarily complicate our businesses because we lose focus. We get distracted by social media posts and emails. The next great invention makes it to our line of vision and we suddenly wonder how we ever did without it.

Before we know it, we've typed in our credit card number, ordered or downloaded the professed solution to all of our problems, and upended the momentum we had built.

Mixed media collage artist Amelia Furman | on Art Biz Success
©Amelia Furman, Keep Going. Paper collage and oil on cradled panel, 12 x 12 inches.

This insight that you are distracted by the latest and greatest isn't my clairvoyance into your world. It happens to me. All. The. Time. I am not immune to searching for magic tools that will make my life easier, help me be more productive, or increase my bottom line. And during this month that we're working on improving productivity, it's even more tempting to search for solutions outside of ourselves.

The truth is, you probably already have everything you need except, perhaps, community, support, and accountability, which you can find in Art Biz Success programs.

To help me unpack this idea, I'm joined on this episode of The Art Biz by Amelia Furman, who says that her to-do list was out of control before she took charge and started eliminating obligations from her life. She tells us why simplifying has become a way of life for her, what, exactly, she has simplified, and how she has done it. But first, let's hear about how she got to this point.


  • Amelia shares her artist's journey. (2:19)
  • The breaking point that revealed that Amelia’s to-do list was out of control. (4:53)
  • For Amelia, making big changes begins with a deliberate start to every day. (9:58)
  • Why is simplifying so important? (13:29)
  • Focusing on one goal or one word each year can help you recall what matters most. (15:05)
  • Setting boundaries and saying no helps Amelia reach her main goals. (22:00)
  • Doubling her gross income doesn’t mean that Amelia is doing more of everything. (24:17)
  • How to schedule your time in more productive ways. (26:08)
  • What does your ideal day look like? What about an ideal week or month? (29:45)
  • Bullet journaling, calendaring, and planning your life. (35:32)
  • How to create a loose monthly flow that allows you to meet your goals. (37:38)
  • Simplifying, eliminating, and focusing have increased Amelia’s productivity. (40:18)
  • The value of participating in a business owners group. (42:00)
  • Amelia’s advice for simplifying a complicated artist's life. (45:26)
  • A look at what is up next for Amelia. (46:30)
Amelia Furman artist Loveland Colorado | on Art Biz Success
Amelia in her home studio in Loveland, Colorado. Image by Jenny Sparks of the Loveland Reporter-Herald.


Amelia Furman Quotes

  • “A to-do list can help you get all the things done, which is awesome until it’s the end all be all. Then it’s not awesome anymore.”
  • “Organizing what needed to happen for that day only really helped to focus in and start this journey toward simplicity.”
  • “Now I’m not saying yes to things just because I can do them.  I’m saying yes to things based on my goal.”
  • “So much of this is being honest with myself about how much time something actually takes.”
  • “I have no further plan beyond each day, and that really helps me stay focused on that day and simplifies it so much in my mind.”
  • “Be brave and start taking stuff out.”

About My Guest

Amelia Furman grew up in rural, central Pennsylvania amidst pastoral scenes of farms, fields, and forests, and now calls Colorado home. Nature has captured her attention for as long as she can remember. The visual arts were also a dominant force in Amelia’s life from an early age. After graduating with a degree in visual art from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2003, Amelia began to explore how she could use paint to express her love of the natural world.

Amelia’s background in printmaking and illustration has heavily influenced the direction of her work. She works in a combination of paper collage, text, and thin layers of acrylic paint. Using a selection of documents, vintage images, handwritten text, and symbols associated with the painted image, Amelia reminds the viewer that places and objects have many layers of meaning, memory, and beauty.

Follow Amelia on Instagram: @ameliafurmanmixedmedia


This IGTV is about getting realistic about your time.


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