Your Weekly Work Rhythm (Curious Monday)

©Nela Dunato, Metamorphosis. Watercolor, ink and acrylic on watercolor paper, 50 x 35 centimeters. Used with permission.
©Nela Dunato, Metamorphosis. Watercolor, ink and acrylic on watercolor paper, 50 x 35 centimeters. Used with permission.

Some time ago, I learned to block out days for no scheduled calls or appointments.

These “free days” are rarely free, but they allow big chunks of time for tasks such as writing and planning. They are usually Mondays and Fridays, which means my Tuesday-Thursday calendar is pretty jam-packed.

I prefer afternoon client calls to morning client calls so that I can catch up with my team in the mornings.

I leave Monday mornings for recombobulating after the weekend, and Fridays for writing and art-viewing.

How about  you?

How do you organize your week for maximum productivity and inspiration in the office and studio?

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48 thoughts on “Your Weekly Work Rhythm (Curious Monday)”

  1. I tend to follow the same protocol for my art business and also for my husband’s business. In dealing with clients from all areas it seem Mondays are more hectic, plowing through emails which are in their boxes, and Fridays are spent catching up on what needs to be done to get the week complete. I have found calling, emailing, works best in the afternoons on Tuesday, Wednesday and maybe Thursday mornings. Seems the work week for productivity shrinks more than we think!

  2. Larkin Jean Van Horn

    At this moment in time, everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – is scheduled around dealing with my husband’s illness and his need for care and transportation. As a result, no week is exactly the same as any other. Best case scenario? Office work while he is sleeping, artwork that can be carried around always packed and ready to go, actual studio time whenever I can grab it. Fortunately, the type of work I do can be broken down into several phases, some of which can be hauled to the hospital or doctor’s office for handwork. But those are not places where you want to try to do business on the phone. It is very much a figure-it-out-as-we-go period of time.

    1. Oh, man. This is happening to so many people (including my husband, who is caring for his dad right now). Sending you all love and peace.

      Kudos to those of you who manage a workaround.

    2. Larkin, My empathy for your situation. I am a caregiver also to my mentor who is 80 that has ALZ. The blessing for you is that you can carry your work with you. I admire so many of us that are juggling this caregiving and still maintaining productivity. One huge adjustment for me was to lean into the open ended schedule. So I make task list for the week and fit them in when and where I can.

    3. I’m in a similar spot though my time opened up a bit this summer. The main thing to remember is to not kick yourself about what you can’t get done. Anything you can do is something. And just like nothing lasts forever, neither will this time that you can’t focus 100% on your art.

  3. I love Alyson’s perscription about the 5 minutes.writing time daily…pretty much has to be done before other work in the AM….
    My sched changes constantly due to teaching gigs, meetings and opportunities…but I do depend on the daily rituals to stay on track.

  4. I try to focus on a single thing at a set time. I find that having routines and rituals are important aids to getting things started and then finishing them off. Mornings are best for sketching or painting and afternoons for business, dealing with clients, bookeeping or research. My goal is to produce 2 15×22 watercolors a week. The actual painting takes about a day and preperation about 2 days of sketching and organizing/reviewing my research photographs. I learned a long time ago, for me, most of the work is done before I ever dip brush into water.

  5. For me early morning is the time for creation whether it is a painting or writing about Art and Faith. I stretch it as far as I can before the rest of day: marketing, dealing with clients and business hollers at me to get going. I try to schedule meetings and phone calls for the afternoon.

  6. After breakfast and a walk in the woods with the dogs (great time for thinking!), I head for the studio and stay there until 1pm. No email. No phone. I’ve found I get lots more painting done this way!! I leave my afternoons open for chores and appointments.

    1. I wake and walk my dog through the woods too! She prances and I plod, and plot. Some days I’m eager to get out – I love the “super early being outside” feeling – it’s like one of the best parts of camping. Other days I figure it’s just as beneficial to “stomp through the woods.” I still get the walk, the fresh air, time with my malamute and I always come back feeling better than when I left. I think it’s not possible to have a bad walk. I need to work on the rest of the day though, with the studio time, and getting more work done… 😀 I homeschool my two boys so I fit in studio time around their activities. I run a regional gaming club, that meets weekly and a weekly bi-state park day for homeschoolers. The other days are “home days.”
      Monday: Gaming Club
      Tuesdays: Office/computer time – catching up on emails, maintaining game club websites and FB presence, and if the weather is good – I’m in the garden (computer stuff can be done in the dark).
      Wednesday: Studio/computer time – sorting photos, optimizing, printing, etc, and the same about the garden.
      Thursday: Park Day for homeschoolers
      Friday: Budget/meal plan/grocery shopping/errands
      So, it’s really just Wednesdays then. I need to add in some more photo time.
      Saturday OR Sunday: I get a couple of hours *all by myself* to visit galleries and go have a coffee or tea, write in my sketchbook, etc.

  7. I meditate before I get out of bed in the morning, and it helps me organize my top priorities for the day. I do some self-reflection and some positive affirmations, and then I get moving. Coffee and exercise with friends play a role in the morning followed by a review of my task management.

    My art comes first so depending on what is the most important thing to accomplish on any given day this always takes priority. This morning it was visiting venues for showing my work in my community. I check my emails briefly before settling into my studio time in the afternoon. I also check email one more time late in the day in case I missed something important while in my studio.

  8. I have two little boys at home, so my creative work schedule has to get rather “creative”. I tend to save my artwork for nap time, and then other work responsibilities that can handle constant interruption I spread out throughout the day. I will usually take Sunday to plan out my week of work, looking at our school schedule and other duties. I’ll plan slots of time for art, housework, cooking, etc….it’s all rather seamless or intermixed. I’m always looking for a quiet five minutes to get my next art job done, be it a glaze or gessoing a panel or cutting out a stack of collage materials. I take them when I can get them!

  9. Just this morning I wrote out my regular weekly plan. Sundays – accounts and work. (Work means paint/draw.) Mondays work. Tuesdays – business stuff (and some work). Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays – all work. Saturdays – clean house and cook.
    Mornings are spent with the menagerie (2 dogs and 3 cats) but by one o’clock I try to get everyone sorted and I shut myself in my studio until 5.
    For emails, I check there isn’t anything important first thing each morning, but I write non-urgent emails and letters in the evenings after supper.

  10. I’m struggling at the moment since we have a farm and harvest season is in swing. I keep Tuesdays set aside for computer based-issues. I write for 20-30 minutes in a journal every day. Looking forward to getting all the food put up so I can get back to more studio time.

  11. I find that breaking down the large tasks into small chunks makes them easier to deal with, so I try to work on my website and etsy shop at set times weekly, usually I block out a couple of evenings. Mon – Fri, I have an assistant who comes in the mornings, so I always keep those hours clear each day for working in the workshop. I can get through loads more if we work together, and it stops me spending so much time daydreaming. Then the early afternoons are for deliveries and paperwork before I dash off for the school run. Each evening I make a new to do list for the following day, from my Master list. Saturdays are my regular open studio day for clients to pop in without an appointment – the rest of the week it’s by appointment only so I can plan out my tasks. The one thing I always forget to schedule is lunch, so it’s eaten on the hoof.

  12. Generally I work in the studio from 8am to 6pm with Wednesdays left open for doc appts, errands, etc. Computer work is after dinner til bed-time and most of the day on Sunday. Sometimes if I reach a stopping point in the studio earlier, I can come in & get some computer work done before dinner. I try not to work more than a half day in the studio on Saturday but if it’s show madness time, that’s out the door! My goal for next year is to slow down and define a more humane schedule that gives me time with my husband, family & friends.

  13. This year I went back to a paper diary – not sure I will stick with it, but it seems to be working for the moment. I tend to remember things better when I write them down.

    I also very recently too up timing some of my tasks. Physically putting on a timer for 20 minutes to read through emails. 20 minutes for writing. This works especially well for a task I really don’t want to do like filling in a costing spreadsheet for a workshop or anything to do with finance – it means I get it done in 20 minutes!

    There is a terrific timing APP called ‘Timeglass’ where you can set specific tasks and then re-use the timer for the tasks you set. Brilliant 🙂

  14. Monday’s are for spinning and business work including writing. Tuesday and Wednesday are studio days. Thursday’s I tutor ESL, run errands and meet girlfriends for breakfast. Friday’s are studio days. Saturday’s are for anything that didn’t get done the other days and Sunday’s are for football, cooking, and house stuff. Every day is for playing with the dog, walks, and reading. Studio days are spent painting,doing prep work, photography or model sessions. They last about 4-6 hours. So far, this works pretty well, but with our beautiful fall days coming, I may have to slack off and just be outside more. Come winter, I’ll be going full tilt again. ????

  15. This is my schedule for the time being. Mondays are a day that I teach from 10-2pm and then I meet with my apprentice from 2-4pm to go over what needs to be done when she comes on Thurs. and Friday to help in the studio, we also go over her goals and my goals to check in and see where we are and stay accountable for timelines etc. I keep a task list for the week to the side of the week in my planner and fit things in as I am allowed because it takes time for caregiving and I never know what can come up. Tues. Wed Thurs are usually work days for me. Currently, unless there is a appt for Anton. I really try to schedule any apts. for him on Fridays as that is my day to take off for errands, shopping or my appointments. Right now is sculpting season for me so I’ve been outside a lot working until early afternoon and then going inside to work on paintings, mail or business calls in the afternoons. Depending on how busy or full my deadlines are I sometimes work on Saturdays. I always take off Sundays.
    Addendum: I have been in a new role as a caregiver for the past two years and it is just now starting to iron out some what. I feel like I lost my footing with my career, my personal life, social life or networking abilities and have been very warn down with the emotional duress of the shock of learning how to deal and seeking the system for the correct support. I’ve learned to ask for help and not be so hard on myself plus I’ve started taking better care of self with eating and exercise regularly as part of my weekly schedule.

  16. First, I’d like to offer a word to the caregivers- I had, ending a year ago now, almost 12 years of caregiving.- But, it is like putting on your own oxygen mask first- you have to take care of yourself first –and for a lot of us, our art is our sanity. My week is partially organized around group activities so that Tuesday is outdoor painting (or studio time in the winter) with Men in Hats, Wednesday evening is Life Drawing and every other Friday is Long Pose – with the model usually draped. Then top priority is exercises to regain posture and work on muscles over-stretched or shortened prior to hip replacement- and this has been a long haul – so an hour-long session with a trainer on Wednesdays and then exercises on my own every day. It helps that I have a studio area where an easel can be set up and left. Other jobs and responsibilities get fitted in to other spaces. But I never feel like time hangs heavy on my hands!

  17. I start my week with independent study with my mentor on Monday morning during school days. I get great feedback and a set time for painting and being around creatives for 3 hours. I try to paint 2 more mornings during the week. The schedule depends on my other weekday commitments. I also have an Ebay business that helps pay the bills.

  18. Two weeks ago the rhythm of my week was off. It probably had been for a while, slipping a bit here and there. I blew up at those I care the most for and accused them that they were in the way of what I was trying to do. Wrong. My BF wisely told me to erase the calendar and put my art in first. It is after all, my work. Not the last thing on the priorities list to be squeezed in as an afterthought. So I am back in sync, with a minimum of 12-15 hours a week for art. Yay! That being said, my week flows a lot like yours. Monday is a regrouping day. I get computer and business stuff done in the mornings with coffee and then there is my art time which depending on the day will range from 1-4 hours. I am guarding that 1 hour minimum with my life. Sometimes you have to fight for it. Though I found I was fighting myself for it. I teach Thursdays-Saturdays But I can usually get an hour in even on those days if I am creative. This month I have a lot of receptions. A good sign that my work is out there but I still have to do the work and put in the studio hours. My week goes from regrouping and getting back to work on Mondays to 2 solid days of work, three whirlwind days of teaching and Sunday is free-form, it can be anything from a reception to a family day to a complete pajama day.

  19. Marrianna Dougherty

    I don’t have a schedule and have been re-listening to some of Alyson’s Creative Content Camp podcasts and guest podcasts. And getting ideas. Currently, I am somewhat immobilized due to 2 fractured vertabrae in my spine (oh, what fun to wear a back brace for 3 months). I am now taking osteoporosis meds that I just started last week. What does all this have to do with our question? Because I’m unable to be as active as I used to be, and since I’m retired and live alone, I have time that can now be allocated to various tasks – instead of just watching TV. Reading isn’t even comfortable because of the brace. But if I break down what I want to accomplish into small chunks, I think I can start some good daily/weekly habits. I can only hope.

  20. Wow, I am inspired by everyone! So many of you are juggling so much and your determination to fit art in somehow is just incredible.

    One day a week I try to save just for creating art, and I do need chunks of time for writing blog posts and the like, but I would say my weekly schedule is still a work-in-progress. However, I have adopted the practice of doing one sketch first thing in the morning every weekday morning before anything else. Then if the rest of the day blows up in my face, I can still feel good about having gotten at least one creative thing done. I also started a daily chart of how much time I spend doing art-related things. This includes research, visits to galleries/museums, watching instructional videos, as well as teaching, working on marketing, and actually making art. When I look at the chart, I feel a little better because I can see that I’m actually more productive than I thought.

  21. My week is more organized than it used to be and it’s working for now. I have the advantage of working at home. I’m not a morning personal at all so I like to start the day with coffee and newspaper. The first task I take care of is to make nectar (we have lots of hummingbirds). Then I feed our pets (iguana, bearded dragon, southern alligator lizard, praying mantis and walking-stick insect). I clean up whatever has to be cleaned up, water plants & have brunch. I make more coffee and work on my art, do stretching & dance practice, have dinner & work on my art, sometimes late into the night. Mondays are for computer work from weekend shows, wipe off paintings (sand from Sat. show at the beach & other things from winery outdoor show on Sun.). Tuesdays I spend the afternoon with my mother-in-law & go to her art workshop with her & work on my own work there, then have ballet in the evening (I go to Academy of Dance for ballet). Wednesday/Thursday is my “weekend”, I relax, shop, read. I photograph plants for the botanical garden and usually Thursday is the day I meet with them & photograph. I make notecards featuring my photos for their gift shop. Friday morning I go to a Life Drawing workshop, afternoon I work on getting everything ready for my two all-day art shows on Saturdays & Sundays. Wow, it doesn’t feel as bad as it sounds!

  22. Well I have been too much in a busy panic to write until now. This morning on account is in the red and bank fees may make it go thermonuclear! I am expecting a small payment on Friday.
    Must bring in $550 today… somehow. $60 is a 50 mile round trip from here.
    Yesterday I got new license plates for the work van… TRMPLOY. I am just not focused
    because of paniced depression, an invention that predominates my creative and my own health
    problems are weighing heavy too. I have no living family so sociial security is it as far as every month, and a $400 stipend. Expenses exceed that, my rent is half!

  23. I must add that I was recently diagnosed with Asbergers Syndrome and at 67 it has added to my confusion… but helps me understand where I am and why life has been a struggle. So taking care of my health has become as important as the rest of the work to sell art. I am wanting to do a blog but it would have to be on Facebook since I still have not figured out how to add content to
    I had a webmaster until she became my ex, genius

  24. Helping to think about how to get back on track by reading all of these. I do not have some of the major challenges that some of you have – yet – like caregiving or health conditions. But I am still all over the map. The studio is a mess – havent’ painted in more than a week, house mess, etc. I have three more months of a volunteer position for local art group that is taking too much time. And a show to prepare for – next March. Gotta get it together! And now holidays coming too fast. My head is spinning. Thanks for the subject and all of you who share how you do it! One of my favorite sayings – when you are going through hell, don’t stop! The other is Bloom where you are planted! Need to figure out how to work both of these at the same time!

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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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