Set Up for Success

Life can truly be hectic.  Some days I wake up thinking I'll do A and then proceed to do B all day long.  Sometimes, that's just how it goes.  Rather than fight this phenomenon, I prepare for it.  

I set myself up for success.

Now, I'm going to offer a lot of suggestions in this post.  Some of them work for me, some of them don't.  Some of them will work for you, and some of them won't.  That is just how it should be.  Don't waste time implementing tactics that you know won't work!

I just happen to be one of those people that works really well with a deadline.  If I'm not given some sort of completion time period from a client, it's likely to never get done.  I like to see that deadline out there... and then move it up a week or two.  It's not the pressure I'm after, it's the security.  Committing to myself that the commission will be done a week before the client expects it, makes me feel confident that if my life blows up, I still have an "extra" week.

This works really well with "daily" projects too, depending on the purpose of the project.  Just for the sake of clarity, if you are truly aiming to create something every day, then working ahead is pointless.  However, if you're after, say, 365 patterns in a year, then why not work ahead and save yourself the stress?

I have, currently on Instagram, a #365patternsclub project.  I post a pattern each day.  As of this blog posting it is day #41.  However, I'm currently working on day #59.  You can call it cheating, I call it efficient.  The purpose isn't for me to create a pattern every day, it is to end up with 365 patterns this year.

Moving on, lots of artists have success with leaving materials out for a project as a way to set themselves up for success.  If everything is just waiting, then there's no reason to stall, you can just get right to work.  Given the space and freedom, this is an awesome one!  

Block off time.

When you prepare in advance to be unavailable to anyone or anything else, this tactic works miracles.  However, we already established that life is crazy and unpredictable, so blocking off time is a killer feat in itself.  I recommend that you practice this, but try to keep yourself from getting frustrated when it doesn't go as planned.  One way I try to do this is to go to Starbucks for at least four hours every week.  Once I'm in the car, it's smooth sailing and I know I have a huge block of time to work.  It's getting everything else taken care of so that I can get in the car.  Maybe try to keep your block of time flexible like that - have a weekly goal, but let the specific time be flexible.

Now for my personal favorite, get in your own way.

If you have a habit of getting lost on the computer before painting, place your brushes on your laptop or across your keyboard.  Make it so that you literally have to move them before you can do anything else.  Then, with brushes in hand, you will be more inclined to do what you should do than what you were going to do.  There are lots of ways you can get in your own way, in the best possible way.  (way, way, way...) Experiment until you find what works.  

Then just know, when the day goes to crap, because some days will, you can try again tomorrow.  Hallelujah for tomorrow!