Art Marketing Action: Trick and Treat Yourself

What chores, tasks, or jobs do you find yourself delaying or ignoring altogether? What do you dread so much that you neglect? Sadly, it’s often the stuff you really need to do–the things you can’t afford to ignore. See if you’re overlooking any of these.

  • Making follow-up calls
  • Writing thank-you notes
  • Updating your mailing list
  • Overhauling your inventory
  • Cleaning your studio or office
  • Balancing your books
  • Researching your next series
  • Making art (It happens!)

If you’ve been procrastinating something, identify it. Don’t be afraid! Just name it.

After you’ve confessed, you can trick yourself into completing it and getting it off your mind. Of course, your tricks can be followed by treats. Here are some tricks that have worked for me.

Chrysti Hydeck, The Stirring of Birds. Photograph and mixed media painting.
Chrysti Hydeck, The Stirring of Birds. Photograph and mixed-media painting. ©The Artist

TRICK – – – > Adjust your perspective.
Starting a task you don’t enjoy with a bad attitude won’t help anything. Instead, look at it differently. If you don’t like packing artwork to ship to new owners, don’t think about it as packing artwork. Think of it with a $ in front of it. “Yea! I’m shipping out a $500 sale!” is a better approach than “I really don’t want to go to the store to get more bubble wrap.”

Treat: Download some happy tunes to match your new ‘tude.

TRICK – – – > Take baby steps.
“Clean out my office by Thanksgiving” sounds overwhelming. Instead, focus on the smallest action. Recycle or throw away 5 things each day, organize a single drawer, or buy new files.

Treat: Pick up a new organizing component at the thrift store–maybe a filing cabinet or shelf.

TRICK – – – > Block out time on your calendar.
Having a vague idea that you need to get something done is one thing. Creating time and space for it is quite different. When you see the time scheduled on your calendar, remember that it’s a commitment you made to yourself. Don’t change it just because you’d rather be doing something else.

Treat: “Me Time.” Your gift for honoring the commitment you made to your professional life is time for your personal well-being. Block out more time on your calendar for a hike, a manicure, or a long hot bath.

TRICK – – – > Set your timer.
If you promise to do something for 15 or 30 minutes, you can make a game of it. It’s amazing how hard you will work to beat the clock before time runs out. It also creates a certain amount of momentum, so allow yourself the flexibility to keep going after the timer buzzes.

Treat: Chocolate, of course. Or maybe a small new art supply.

TRICK – – – > Get out.
Sometimes it just takes fresh scenery to be inspired. Plop down at a coffee shop to write your thank-you notes. Visit the library to research your next series instead of staying at your computer. Go to any other room in the house to journal in preparation for your artist statement.

Treat: None. Getting out is a treat in itself!

Anti-procrastination tips and balancing acts always come into the discussion in my Get Organized online class. A new session begins November 11.

FINAL WORD: Remember that for every trick you use to complete a project, a treat is waiting for you.


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10 thoughts on “Art Marketing Action: Trick and Treat Yourself”

  1. As Hazel Dooney said in a blog post a few days ago: “Putting off something – or procrastinating about it – is a vain attempt to stop time.”

    I’ve used some of your tricks to get moving, but never have had any success with the bribe-me business. I always welsh on the deal. Take the bribe but forget the task. I’m a bad politician.

  2. This trick and treat list is good. I use a lot of these techniques on myself.
    One additional thing that helps me is to think about the artists from the past that I admire- all of them, in their own way, had to deal with same to-do lists we artists of today face. If Edward Hopper had to do it and managed to, then I can too.

  3. Spot on as always Alyson. 🙂 I learned so many of these tricks from you. My main two are a calendar and a timer. Some items are now specifically monthly or weekly tasks and marked on a specific DATE. (just saying monthly and having that list somewhere doesn’t work for me) I also use the timer a whole lot in the studio! Sometimes even for painting, because like you say that does need a nudge once in a while! The timer can be a way to do the baby step too; if you know you have 15 minutes “clean the desk” can become “sort the top pile into categories” for now. 🙂

  4. I am going to share my new thing…It’s good. I have been making ” To Don’t ” Lists… an excellent time saver, & eradicates guilt … (You know, things you don’t need to do…) I’m not going to give examples, so you can just imagine the possibilities…happy hallowe’en!

  5. It’s not on your list, but the ONE task I am procrastinating at the moment is creating and sending out a Press Release for my hybrid Open Studio Exhibit and sale that includes me, two other artisans and a tea room.

    I knew it scared me but I didn’t realize how much until I decided to actually do a Press Release.

  6. Walter: I’m not a rewards (treats) person either. For me, it’s the thrill of the accomplishment that is reward enough.

    Philip: I love that. “If Edward Hopper could do it, I can, too.” Great way to look at situations.

    Tina: I not only set a timer, but am using a stopwatch to so I can see how long it takes me to do stuff. There’s this certain desire to get it done fast!

    Sari: “Don’t” lists are fantastic! I’ll share one of mine: “Don’t waste time with people who make excuses.” But that’s not really a secret anymore, is it?

    Patricia: Hopefully now that you shared it you can stop procrastinating. What’s the worst that could happen?

  7. Alyson, the worst that could happen is that I come off like an idiot. Not terribly likely, really. The worst we imagine is often times not really the worst that is at all realistic. Realistically? The worst that could happen is that nothing happens. And that’s not the end of the world. But what one knows intellectually is not always what one “knows” emotionally.

    So far I’m hating everything I write. I’m perhaps too close to it?

  8. Hey, that sounds kindof mean, I know where you are coming from, but people who make excuses are not exactly evil… I know you are an A type, but many of those excuses people are Bs & Cs & D types…”A” types get excuses from other types because they just can’t keep up with the A type pace-… wasting time? (I am wounded…)

  9. Patricia: Maybe the worst that could happen is that you don’t get it written and miss an opportunity. I know how hard these things are to write! Always takes me several drafts and at least a week.

    Sari: Okay, I guess I’m mean. But I did write a whole book about countering excuses.

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Your Artist Mailing List: Rethinking + Assessing

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.

Where can we send it? 

To ensure delivery, please triple check your email address.

You’ll also receive my regular news for your art business.

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