Tell Me About Your Work Day

One of the most valuable things I do with clients is to help them with their productivity. We're all stretched for time, but most of us aren't effectively using the time we've been given.
I'm curious about how you spend your minutes.

Melanie Morris
In the studio: ©2012 Melanie Morris, From the Inside Out, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30 inches.

Deep Thought Thursday

What does your artist work day look like?
How much time do you spend in the studio each day?
How much time do you spend marketing each day?
How do you allot your time to various tasks?
Where do you waste time?

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31 thoughts on “Tell Me About Your Work Day”

  1. A typical day for me begins with checking and sending emails, reading the blogs I follow and then taking care of any Facebook postings, listing new work and any other business type chores that need done. Then after lunch I paint and take care of any framing that might have piled up. By 5 o’clock I’m ready for a little break before I start cooking dinner so to relax I play my ukulele for an hour. The end of a perfect day. 🙂

    1. Leah: Is that enough time for your art? And do you find it easy to make the transition from business to studio?

  2. I am an equine fine art photographer and I spend about 4 to 6 hours a day at my computer desk doing a variety of things related to my business. Editing photos, social media, send out quotes, updating website etc.. Today was a full day of pricing my work for a new Belgian Cafe’ opening up in New York.
    Here is what I try and do each day.
    Mornings are dedicated to practice, I go out shooting or try new methods.
    Late mornings are filled with answering emails, updating Facebook, or loading photos on website.
    Afternoons I will write my blog for Wednesdays and Sundays posting.
    I also check with other blogs and industry news on podcast so I can stay currant with the photography industry.
    I like to dedicate two days a week learning to become better at all the software programs I use.
    In the evening I will watch workshops I purchase online to become a better photographer or learn business techniques.
    I keep myself very busy with my art and photography business.

  3. Victoria Pendragon

    I am artist, writer, counselor. I don’t waste time because I don’t have it to waste. I have a lot of energy, which is good, but also means that whatever I’m doing, I’m really, really, really invested in it. My body temperature actually rises by degrees, for instance, when I’m creating. Consequently, I shift gears a lot just to simmer down and I follow my body’s clues about what to do at any given moment.
    One thing is a constant, though: mornings. I have to get off on the right foot for the sake of body and mind so exercise is the first thing I do after brushing my teeth. I alternate Aero Pilates with yoga (which I’ve been doing for 30 years). Then, as I’m having my juice to awaken my organs, I set up for the art work I’ll be doing that day because I’m usually working on 3 or 4 different pieces at once due to necessary drying times.
    Then breakfast and the rest of the day finds me, like a bee, going from flower to flower to flower depending on appointments, commitments, flashes of insight, deadlines, whatever.
    I shut down like a snapping turtles jaw at 7 PM – or 8 if I got up late (late being 7 AM) to read or watch a movie. No television here; no need for all that media noise.
    Use sleep time for personal transformation and then I’m off again!
    It’s a wonderful life!

    1. Victoria: First, let me say that it’s wonderful to see your face in your picture!
      Second, I like your routine and the “getting off on the right foot.”

  4. There is no real typical day although most have similarities.
    I create art jewelry but I still have to carry insurance so I have a day job which eats about 50 of those precious 168 hours per week (travel time to and from is included with the 50 hours)… but I digress.
    I spend about 2 hours each morning 5-6 days per week doing paperwork, bookkeeping, reading emails, tweeting, face booking, marketing and social interactions. This is done first thing in the morning- why because after a great solid 9 hours of sleep my head is clear and I’m more free spirited in the AM. Then I’m off running the kids to daycare/school and I drive to work and upon completion of a normal work day, I follow the same routine home. Once home I take about 90 mins to prepare and eat a meal with my family, do home work and otherwise interact with my family. Then I’m off to the studio (which is just in the next room) I spend about 3 hours an evening Mon-Thurs in the studio. Fri-Sat-Sun hours are much more plentiful and therefore, fruitful. I spend about 17-20 hours in the studio on these 3 days as long as I do not have a show scheduled. Most of my time in the studio is actual fabrication time because I use my free time (lunch) at work to sketch out projects and order supplies. I will be honest and tell you that my house isn’t the cleanest and my laundry only gets done when the dirty wash is nearing a 3 foot mound or my husband starts to complain. I’m not proud of either of those facts but I am happy to say my kids are fed a cooked meal most nights of the week and read to at bed time. I find my biggest time waste is (gulp, I really shouldn’t say this out loud!) my day job. Yes, I said it! My day job- I do it for the money and insurance, two of the biggest reasons why I still must hold a steady paying job. I get to my day job and think about what I could be creating in my studio, then I feel frustrated because once in my studio I just can’t create enough made to reach my goals for my business. I feel that if I could just have another 20 hours per week to dedicate to my studio, I can make it my full time job that will provide my salary and maybe insurance. So if you tallied up my hours so far you will see that I use about 165 hours in a 168 hour week. The other 3 hours per week, well I guess you can say those are my wasted hours, frivoled away into nothingness.

    1. Angela
      I remember those days. Let the house go or delegate family members to help you out cleaning. It is good for your kids to have chores.
      But most of all know your art will wait for you, your family will be gone before you know it.
      The job is just a job.

    2. Angela: Wow! What an amazing schedule. You are proof that it CAN be done.
      I disagree with Gigi here. I find women who postpone their art careers become resentful. I also don’t think it’s healthy for children to see their parents giving up their dreams. So, good on you for making it all work.

  5. today I have to be in the day job but this evening I will be working on getting a BlogSpot going and trying to get a like button on my site from facebook which currently is driving me mad!

  6. Typical Day:
    7-8:30am Breakfast/get the kid off to school/tidy up house
    8:30-9:30am Walk the dog/exercise
    9:30-10:30 Check email, update website/blog/facebook, paperwork, other marketing work etc. (Warning! this is the time wasting part!! Sometimes I spend way more time than necessary doing this, especially web surfing other sites)
    10:30-12:00 In the studio prepping, sketching, painting, etc I work in 1/2hour bursts of energy with a little pacing, making if tea, etc. in between
    12:00-1:00 Lunch break
    1:00-4:00 In the studio painting again with some breaks tossed in there (in which I can be on the internet again- time waste warning!!)
    4:00-4:30 Visit with my son after school
    *If I have been a big procrastinator that day, then I will try to squeeze out another hour of painting time before dinner, funny enough that can be my most effective hour – something about the time pressure!
    I am lucky enough to have a painting studio space attached my my home, which gives me lots of flexibility, the negative part are the distractions of being at home (housework, phone, yardwork, internet etc).

  7. I also don’t have a typical day except for certain tasks that are required every day. I start out by doing a few exercises before I officially get up (else they wouldn’t get done). Then I get my mother up and if it’s a weekday, get her ready for Adult Day Care and take her over. If it’s a weekend things are quite different. What I do next depends on what that day’s requirements are and what has (sometimes impending) deadlines. In any case, I have to get everything done before 3:00 PM because between then and about 4:00 PM the MyRide bus will be bringing my mother home and then, unless she wants to nap, I can’t really devote my attention to anything else but her care. Fridays I do spend time at Bread and Chocolate with some of my smaller works (earrings mostly) on display for sale. I’ve only just started this, though.
    I do have three physical science labs I’m teaching at a local university so those also demand time in my schedule. Creating art and marketing are shoved into the time when my mother is at the Day Care, as is grocery shopping, all other errands, and the minimal housekeeping I can get away with. This is perhaps more than some people and less than others but when dealing with an Alzheimers patient with multiple other ailments becomes non-trivial.
    I don’t waste time. If I have a moment for myself, I take it for sanity’s sake (being a caregiver is not easy!).

  8. I’ve devised a well-honed time management system that works for my needs. I’d say that I devote a good 60% of my time toward marketing. Maybe 30% with my camera. 5% on streamlining e-mail messages. 5% wasted time. Wasted time means anything that distracts or interferes with focused priorities.

  9. 8:00 Rise/breakfast/read
    9:00–11:15 Paint
    11:00–12:15 Walk neighbour’s dog
    12:15–2:30 Lunch and nap
    2:30–4:30 Paint or development work for next project. (Friday only) blog
    4:30–7:00 Housework and cooking
    7–00 8:30 Draw using the computer. Procreate on the iPad or Photoshop on the Mac
    What you do not see is the washing put on at breakfast and hung out before dog walking. Phone calls made or taken. Afternoon painting dropped to watch a movie with my son when he visits. Conversations with the daughter still at home.

  10. I meditated daily for 20 min Today I watched a webnar of one of my teachers who is coming to give a art workshop. Replied to some emails, including this one. 1 1/2 hrs. Most days I work on my own art for 4 to 5 hrs Unless I’m at one of the art workshops I produce. Then I focus on just the workshop.
    At least 3 to 4 hr, per day, is for Art Workshops By The Sea business, and about 2 hrs is for my personal art business. Each day has different various tasks but I decide the night before and map out my time. Time gets bogged down for me in internet research.

  11. I work fluidly, until exhaustion takes over. I will start with a shaky coffee cup, and work till I fill my nightcap with wine. It is essential, for me to remain focused and in this period of my career, that is optimal. Years ago, when my Sons were in school and home, I worked off the side of my kitchen, and it was a very prolific period, 1993-94. It’s the work, that demands from me, not me that demands the work. I have produced in this past three months, twenty oil landscape paintings, and still counting. I’m inspired my audience and clients to keep lively more and more inspired works on the easel and on the walls. Great topic. Thanks Alyson.

  12. I get up by 5, but sometimes earlier. I only require about 5 hrs sleep. Paint till 10-11. After lunch, I try to keep up with my email, never completely get there, blog, fb, photograph and frame my artwork. At least half of that is marketing efforts. Time waster for me is email and fb. trying to get that under control. Am also trying to get a more structured daily plan.

  13. Hi Alyson,
    Great question. I am going to think about it. Life takes up a lot of time. It’s not wasted
    time, it’s necessary time — teaching, marking, dishes, talking to galleries, artists, writing a blog, going on Facebook, (rarely), Twitter, as often as possible, being with my husband, children, family, friends and my pets.
    I would love an existence with nothing to do but eat, read, travel and paint. But I’d miss the hurly-burly of regular life and all of its demands. That said. I do paint a lot. A whole lot. But now I’ll apply my own time management teachings to this question and get back to you.
    XO Barbara

  14. I don’t ever have a typical day. I have 3 teens and a 3 year-old and a hard working husband with a changeable schedule. I use the mornings to do half of my cyber tasks: blog reading, email answering, etc. Then I tackle the many errands and mountain of household chores I have. Next is dinner planning,playing w/ little one, eating, cleaning up and bedtime for the little one. This is when I paint. After everyone is out of my way, I get going and sometimes paint until after midnight. While I wait for canvases to dry, I write blog posts and answer more email or do finish work like wiring and edge painting.
    Unfortunately, I have not figured out a way to fit in organizing my costs/sales, but my house is darn clean! 🙂

  15. Hi Alyson
    This is interesting – it makes you think a little bit. I only have a typical day if I am painting and don’t have any impending exhibitions or engagements. I am an early riser so after my spiritual breakfast (Bible reading etc) I check emails, and read blogs (I’ve narrowed these to just a few like artbizblog and making a mark). The other blogs I read when I take a break during painting.
    So on studio days I get into the studio at about 8am and paint til about lunch time after which I will check for new emails, wrap up any paintings that need to be sent out or make a stretcher for a new painting I have to start.
    Currently I am working on putting together a joint exhibition with myself and a colleague so the day is spent mostly on the preparation of the catalogue, writing newsletters and blogs and looking for areas of free or inexpensive promotions. I use twitter and facebook a lot for this and having appeared on a TV program recently I am able to use this to good advantage.
    I try to blog every few days but don’t have a set routine for this. Like my art, the blogs are inspired.
    So basically whatever I do the routine is nearly the same, up early, blog, email, work (painting or marketing), lunch, chores(framing, mailing, buying supplies) etc and then back to work (painting, marketing) til the family come home for the evening meal. The a bit of TV and reading any long documents like contracts etc…
    Wow – that made me think a bit…

  16. Great article as it does make us really look at our days. For me, mornings are spent at home getting things organized in a way that keeps things running smoothly. BUT…I have a cut off time, Monday through Friday, of about 10 or 11 am. At that point, I get ready for the one mile walk ( 20 minutes) to the studio I rent in an historic arts building in downtown Chicago. The walk is an important part of the day as I transition from the left brain “busy- ness” and on to the day in the “office.” I spend from about 11-5 or so in the studio. There, I plan the afternoon’s work, often checking art related topics online while waiting for paint to dry. Some days, only the online marketing gets attention-no painting at all. Still, it feels right because it is all work related. These are times I may update my website, check “calls for artists” and take care of any exhibit details that need attention. Frequently, I think about how nice it would be to have an intern or assistant but my routine keeps me grounded and involved in my work. We are so fortunate to be able to multi task or pick and choose what to focus our efforts on. Once a month, my building holds “Open Studios” so the planning for that evening is a top priority as the date approaches. I do keep up with emails and other online art sites on the weekend and sometimes just go in and open the studio door to visitors.

  17. I recently rented a small space for my studio…its about 25 mins drive from my home…I am there everyday expect Mon-Fri from 9:30-1:30…Sat from 10-6 and couple of hrs on Sunday…thats my studio time..I only paint or plan my next work…I do not carry my laptop and for some reason I can’t check my mails or fb on my phone there..(which is great!!)… Once I am back home picking my son by 2:30…I go online to check emails and write a blog post or do some business stuff…then at 4:00 I pick my daughter and till 7:00 I am either taking her to one of her special classes or working with her…At 7:00 my husband takes over the kids…so I get another hr and a half…to do my business stuff before I crash…
    For me the fact that I am paying rent for that studio is motivating enough to make the most of it….

  18. Life throws curve balls at us on occasion so we have to learn to go with it and not let it take us down.
    My husband hurt his back this past spring and that meant me taking on his responsibilities plus my own for the Summer. Much grass to be mowed as we live on 8 acres.
    STILL, I try to spend mornings exercising, then on to emails, applying to shows, listing events and catching up with the social media. I keep this at a bare minimum as it takes way too much time away from my work in the studio. A very evil necessesity if you are asking me.
    I try to intentionally spend 2 – 6 hours a day in the studio, even on days when I am teaching. I seem to get longer hours in on weekends and that is OK with me too. It is never enough time on my studio practice as packing for sculpture shows, getting inventories ready for galleries, meeting with reporters etc seems to consume so much time from my “Real” work. I suffice to say that we can only do what we can do and I just keep trying to move forward and in a positive direction. Family and friends keep me grounded and looking ahead to more breathing room and more time to create – which is after all the ultimate goal. I wish for one thing and that is more energy – there is never enough!

  19. Being a full time teacher, I have to split and budget my time. I get up at 5:30 everymorning for studio time and some computer catch up till 7. In the evenings, I spend 8:30 to 11pm working some more. This is a weekday routine that works for me and my family. The weekends I let the structure go and run up to my studio whenever the mood strikes me!

  20. hi All.
    I really don’t have a typical day. Usually start out with a good cup of coffee at my favorite café and then it’s off to the studio where I start dealing with the mundane tasks that many of us deal with… the e-mails… the mail…one thing leads to another. I find myself pushing myself to do one thing that seems to need to be done and having difficulty completing it so I do some art and that frees me. I wait, choose an image, see a relationship between something… etc. etc. art supplies, no rules just beautiful relationships… abandonment… practicalities. Thoughts about how to get my stuff exposed leading to more thoughts about how to get my stuff exposed… truncated effort to act on them some technical issue with my computer comes up and I find myself dealing with that… usually a half an hour on the phone with some technical person in India leads to a solution. Confusion leads to making more art. Leading to feelings of inadequacy about the inability to keep a schedule… leading to more art.

  21. Wow! I am so impressed with how organized everyone is! The big question for me how did everyone transition from the day to the full time artist? I am a school teacher – so like a few folks here – 50 hours are dedicated to the day job… But I would love to know how to transition into a full time artist. Advice?

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