About Me / Artist Advice

Productivity and the Artist

Make MeEvery once in a while I get this question when I start talking about my home business, my costumes, my gaming, and everything else I like to do for fun: “When do you have time to do it?”

To be entirely honest, I often don’t.

For one, I have a procrastination problem I’m constantly fighting against. For others, there’s the days I get home from work and just don’t want to do anything. Some of those days, I allow myself to be lazy. We all need it on occasion. But I try to make sure every day has something productive. So, this is what an ideal day looks like:

First of all, there’s the day job. As much as I might like to make a living from my jewelry, I don’t. Aside from some email answering, the day is pretty much for the day job. I almost always have some bit of project in my purse though, whether it’s something I need to research, a sketch pad, a notebook, small sewing project or chainmaille rings. Lunch break means I can take a little time for those projects. Same goes for the bus ride home. Sure, people look at me a little oddly when I start knitting wire on the bus, but it’s a great piece of time that would not be used otherwise.

When I get home… well, first thing I do is take a break and get a little food. But after that, it is down to the craft room for one or two hours of work.

Let me take a moment and explain the joys of having a craft room. It’s not just having a dedicated space to keep all of my projects and inventory, though believe me that helps. It’s a little hard to do projects involving resin and having cats if you can’t close a door for resin to dry without cat fur. (The craft room is the only room the cats know they’re not allowed in. Not that they don’t try if the door is opened and my back is turned.) No, it’s that this is a dedicated working space. No matter what reason I had for going in my craft room, I feel bad if I don’t do something productive for me while I’m in there.

When I do go down there to work, I put on some music or an old sci-fi TV show I know by heart, and then start multitasking. I like doing things in rotation when I only have a little bit of time, as it feels like everything gets a bit of attention that way and everything moves forward.

Things in my typical rotation include:

  • Sales and Marketing (Posting items on Etsy, Twitter posting, Blog writing)
  • Business of Business (record keeping, taxes, other “not fun” but necessary stuff)
  • Photography (product photos and photo editing)
  • Small Inventory Creation (drilling holes in dice, gluing pendant bales, wiring earrings)
  • Clean Up (There is an endless number of things to be put away in the craft room. Really.)
  • Something for me! (A couple of stitches in a sewing project, a few links of the chainmaille dress)

That way, with only a little bit of available time, I can get a bunch of little things done.

But some projects just don’t work cut up that way. The previously mentioned resin work? It needs to be done in big batches or it’s not supply or time efficient. That is where Saturdays come in!

Saturdays are a whole different sort of schedule. If I don’t have some sort of event, the day starts off with Mark and I trying to get some exercise, usually swimming at the local community center. Then, there’s house errands on the way home – groceries, home improvement stores, whatever. All those things we don’t get to during the week. And as usual, I have projects in my purse, which I tend to bring out while waiting for food in restaurants.

Once home again, I try to pick one project I want to make good progress on. It always feels nice if I can complete a goal on Saturday, so I pick one I think will fit the time I have. Saturdays are also when Mark and I try and work together to prepare for the LARP we run. So large email responses, NPC creation, prop creation if something special is needed, mostly gets rolled into Saturdays.

Sundays… well, Sundays are LARP days. They alternate between going to LARPs and running our own.

So, out of all of this, what don’t I have time for? Honestly, my non-gaming social life is slim. And house cleaning. Oh goodness, house cleaning. But then that’s also part of why we host a LARP at our house – if we didn’t have people coming over every other week, who knows when cleaning would be done!

It’s not easy. But using even odd moments means I’m a little closer to getting projects done and new, neat things made.

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