It can be so easy to get caught up in daily life, let it wash over you and then suddenly think “Where did that time go?” Whether it’s a family or demanding job that take your attention, keeping your mind on a longer term vision can really help you keep moving forward.
This is something I have been particularly conscious of this year and for the first time I took a day to sit down and do a complete review of my year, both work and family related. If you already do this you will know how valuable this can be to
• remind yourself of the good things that have happened
• spot the patterns of your past behaviour and habits
• take the time to redirect yourself
I was reminded of great days out, how much life had changed in just a year and I realised how little time I actually have to get my work done and therefore how important it was to make a conscious plan of the year so I could do what I wanted to do! What I realised as I went through my various notebooks was:
It’s easy to write ideas down. It’s not always so easy to go back and find them so you can act upon them
Last year was a great year for making things happen; I ran a short course, I had work selected for a prestigious show and made my best sales yet. I also found lots of forgotten ideas or small sparks that had never been given the space to grow. If I had forgotten them, how would I be able to go back and find them when I needed to bring them to life?
A few new things I will be doing this year to make sure I stay on track:
Think weekly not daily
I don’t have a daily to-do list; too much writing and transferring, too many pages to keep track of! Instead my weekly (mainly domestic) tasks are in a small paperback book where I can list things I need to get done, plan meals etc.It is small enough to put in by bag if I need to and I can interperse each week with notes that are not major projects but that will pass, eg birthday party lists
Most important is a focus section for each week. Last week it was ‘planning’, this week I have a lot of family appointments and events so it is ‘use small chunks of time’. This helps me consider the week ahead and allows me to be flexible each day while still making sure I cover what I need to.
Don’t lose track of ideas
My main notebook (hardback A5) is page numbered and I now use a contents page. This should make it easier to come back and find my notes and ideas. I can allocate a few pages to a particular project if I need to so that notes are not dotted around all over the place but kept together.
Think chunks, not months
I have broken the year down into chunks of time, dictated by school holidays. This gives me 6 working chunks and holidays. Doing this has allowed me to consider what type of work can only be done when I have time on my own (longer days in the studio), and what work I can continue to do when I also have the children around (eg sketchbook projects)
Traditional diaries encourage you to plan in monthly slots but these are articfial blocks of time that may not suit you best. What would you find easier? You may have finite deadlines that dictate your timelines; I have included dates for submissions and shows and looking at the year allowed me to work out which of these will fit with my time this year – and which I can discard from my mental ‘to do’ list.
Thinking like this has allowed me to really see where I have time, and where I don’t! I’ve written before about my tips to working out your creative week but we also need to plan out a longer term vision.
Did you do this at the start of the year? Let me know what you learnt and what you will do differently this year to make sure you take more steps towards doing more of what you enjoy.