Episode 135 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Make a Daily Contract

Make a Daily Contract

This was one of the first and most effective techniques I have used and still do. At the beginning of each day, start out by writing down a contract with yourself that is simple and doable. Write down a short list of things that if you accomplished, then you will feel good about yourself. There are a few stipulations to this contract that you are writing daily:

  1. Make your to-do list small—no more than four things on it!
  2. Agree that you will feel good if you accomplish those tasks.
  3. Put up the list where you can see it, like on the refrigerator or the computer.

At the end of the day, look at your list and tell yourself you did what you said you were going to do, and you feel good about that. Then write down a few thoughts about how you are feeling on a page, calling it your “time diary.” At the end of your first two-week period of managing your time this way, stop and look back at what has happened. Read over your daily diary about it. What worked?

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

Episode 134 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Find the Problem, Fix It

Find the Problem, Fix It

This is another technique that will give you more control to design your time. Carry around a small pad with you from when you wake until you go to sleep. On this pad, write down the activities you have done and how much time you spent on them. Make it very brief. Like for what I am doing now—writing this book—I would say, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, writing the book; 2:00 to 3:00 pm, lunch; etc. Then do it for the entire day. There will be times when you are at the computer and you are supposed to be working and instead are doing several tasks, like checking email and looking at social networking sites like Facebook. Rather than write down the time as “work on the computer 2:00 to 6:00 pm,” try to be more specific. If you were web surfing, mention what sites you went to roughly and if you checked your email. If after doing this for a day you feel that it wasn’t accurate, do it for another day, even two days. Then look back on your notes and find where there are leaks. You know, like checking to see where the money is being spent? Check to see where you could have more time if an activity were changed. What is taking up most of your time? Write down those answers and it will help you to decide what to change next or what time slots are free.

Draw Anything Here

Don’t Answer the Phone

During one or more of your scheduled work periods, make an agreement with yourself not to answer the phone! The reason is probably obvious (it is a time waster), but it also is about behavior. All these time management techniques are for is change your behavior. That is why they are hard for most people, because even if we want to change our behavior, it isn’t always easy, and we need reminders, rewards, and proof that it is working and is also in our best interest. In this case, try not answering the phone during your thirty-minute work periods. You might hear the phone ring or see it, but ignore it, let it go to voicemail and call them back as soon as your session is over. This is easy and also a big relief once you get used to it.

There is nothing worse then getting all set up, ready to do your work, and then a phone call interrupts it all because someone needs to talk or someone needs something from you. Whatever it is, it can wait thirty minutes! As I was saying, all these ideas should feel new. If they are uncomfortable to do or you are resisting them, then we are right on track. That means we are going against the grain of learned behavior, and that is what we want to do in order to change.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

Episode 133 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Take Time Off

Take Time Off

This one may seem easy, but for most, it is not. Especially if you are living a freelance lifestyle or if you have different jobs or even if you are a full-time artist. When do you take time off? You might think that you are always off because you can choose when you work, but that is not the same as taking time off regularly. A comparison that comes to mind is what sex therapists tell their clients. When a man and a woman go to a sex therapist and tell them that they are not having sex because of mutual resentment or something, there is one interesting suggestion  that the therapist usually tries. The method is to tell the couple that they must both abstain from sex for a week or until they see the therapist again. Of course the couple protests, saying that they were already doing that, and that is not why they came to therapy. But the therapist counters by explaining that if they agreed not to have sex, it would at least be something they agreed upon! The couple is still unsure, but the therapist continues to talk, explaining that if they take time off, consciously, from having sex, they can stop beating themselves up about it. Then after the next session, they can all evaluate what happened and decide how to move on.

That’s a strange method, isn’t it? When I first heard that, I was amazed, but it makes sense. The person who told me about it was the husband in the couple. He said it really irritated him. But he also said it was nice not to argue about it and lay down all weapons for once. Amazing, isn’t it? Simple exercises that we can do can teach us profound things about how we function in this world and how to do it more effectively.

The Time-Off Plan

Taking time off is the perfect solution for the too-busy person who is trying to get more done than is possible or at least thinks there is not enough time in the day. I would take off one entire day if possible. How about Sunday? If you must, choose half a day. Then do the following on that day:

  1. Make a promise not to check email or look at a computer for that entire day (or half day).
  2. Do something you enjoy for the sake of it: read a book, take a walk, or play a game.
  3. Be aware that this is your day off; you earned it and are fulfilling an exercise as well.

That’s it. Keep it simple, unplugged, and mindful. This is another technique in time management because it teaches you how to relax and that makes you refreshed when you go back to work, not just more of the same. It is also a lesson in enjoying yourself! When I am stressed, I always remind myself of this thought: “Why am I doing this if it is not fun?” That usually calms me down because why would we get stressed out over something we have chosen to do? The ups and downs are part of any process.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

Episode 132 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Book-Ending Technique with a Friend

Book-Ending Technique with a Friend

This is a classic technique where you check in with someone regularly. It could be a friend or someone you hire, like a coach. But you have an agreement with this person that goes something like this: “I will write to you every weekday before 6:00 pm, reporting on the work I did that day.” Then you design your new schedule as we have before. You choose one thirty-minute period, not much longer or shorter, and you do your work in that period and send it to your friend or coach.

This is an exercise that works for me. Also, if you ask this of a friend, you are asking them to help you, to help you accomplish a goal, and if all they have to do is receive your emails once a day, five days a week, why not? Wouldn’t you help someone wanting the same thing? Offering an exchange like that with someone can work very well. This can be done with a family member, old friend, or someone you hire like a coach or an assistant. For the sake of experimenting here, you could ask a friend or someone very close to you. Tell them that you need their support and are doing an experiment to see if you can reach a particular goal. Tell them your plan: you will work thirty minutes a day on it and email them every weekday to state your progress. That is all. They have to read it but do not have to respond if they don’t want to. Chances are, they will respond a little, and you will have a relationship over just this issue.

The main issue is that you hold yourself accountable by writing that check-in report every weekday. Also, you are reaching out to someone and telling someone what it is you are reaching for, and when you begin telling the world that you will do something, it tends to get done.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

Episode 131 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Using Timers

Using Timers

Techniques like this are important to know of because one of them will stick with you and be very effective. And then you have a better chance of using your time in the same way, repeatedly. Try them all a few times and see what feels comfortable. Using an analog timer is simple and in some ways like a game. Go to the store and buy yourself an egg timer. I know you could use your phone or computer, but an old analog or even digital egg timer is better because it won’t distract you or take time to figure out. Set the time for thirty minutes when you are ready to do your daily amount of time. While the timer is going, you can work on only things related to your goals in the calendar for that time. No email or Facebook or anything else. The purpose of having a timer is also to prevent you from extending your thirty-minute slot because you were looking at email or something else. When the thirty minutes are over, they’re over—that’s it. It is worth trying this technique because, as I said, it will either work for you or not.

Managing Anger and Sadness

Your Own Patterns

As you begin to manage your time, you may encounter resistance on several levels depending on your personality and past patterns. The first thing that I encountered when I was starting to manage my time was that I felt I wanted to be free to do whatever I wanted and resisted the notion that I had to treat my life like it was a job, checking in and out. What I was thinking was that I felt that life on the default mode of just doing what I could to make a living and enjoying myself was the ideal way to live and would make me happiest because I saw that as freedom. However, when I experimented (which I am asking you to do), I found that I certainly did get more done, even if it irritated me a little. But what was more profound was that I was enjoying life more through the feeling of getting something done; even if it was through a regimented schedule, it had tremendous pleasure associated with it. This is why you are reading the chapter you are, and it is the best possible scenario when you have finished the exercises and workbook section. The idea is that you will have a similar feeling. You will experiment with several time management techniques, and one will work and, it will give you more pleasure than you imagined. Then even though you might resist doing it again, if you can remember the pleasure you got from achieving so much, you will go back to it.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

Episode 130 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Small Steps Get You Very Far

 Small Steps Get You Very Far

This is the beginning of a big step because if you can get used to managing thirty minutes of your time, five days a week, you can begin to manage other portions of your time as well. And soon, decisions you make in your daily life will be adjusted according to the schedule in your head that you are always looking forward to. Managing your time this way gives you more energy because you are excited about what is happening and there is literally more time in the day to do what you want. When it comes to inspiring stories on time management, just look to people who seem to be doing the impossible.

Not long ago, I was reading the obituary of Rosetta Reitz; do you know who she is? She died at eighty-four years of age in New York City and had a remarkable life. She raised three children as a single mother, and at the same time pursued her career as a jazz historian, writing about women in jazz. She also wrote the first book by a woman on the subject of menopause and, as an entrepreneur, opened a small bookstore and started a record label, and kept working her day jobs to pay bills. Her day jobs were answering calls in a classified advertising department and waiting on tables. Her list of accomplishments actually goes on quite a bit more, but this is enough to seem extraordinary, don’t you think? How is it that she raised three children on her own with side jobs and at the same time wrote books, had meetings with all kinds of people, went to jazz clubs, made new friends constantly, and hatched new entrepreneurial ideas that worked?

Being Passionate Helps

Certainly, her passion is the greatest factor since, in general, everything else was against her! After she had decided what she was going to do with her life, or even if she just decided one project at a time like, “I will write a book,” she then had to carry through on her promise to herself, in whatever form. Her given task was to raise these kids, make money, and do a lot more things. So she had to make time on a regular basis to do all of this. The method she used was the same that people have been using for centuries when they need to get something done: She dedicated a particular time every day to the task. Take weekends off, but stay the course, stick to the path, and complete it! There are several methods to try, but here are a few to get you going.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

Episode 129 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Using Time in Small Increments

Using Time in Small Increments

I like to start with small bits of time so that you can see how the process works and not get overwhelmed by it. Pick one thing that you would like to do more of every day. Let’s say for example it is applying for grants. Then go to your calendar and pick a time frame. I would say no more than thirty minutes at first. Pick which weekdays, not weekends, that you want to use for this purpose. I would pick at least four weekdays, but you can pick five if you like. Then define when the thirty minutes will occur. Is it from 9:00 to 9:30 am every day, or is it at different times on different weekdays? If you pick out your four or five blocks of time this way, it should be easy to use them the first time. Starting out this way is very helpful because you don’t want to feel pressured or burdened by this process, you want to feel that it is easy and doable. Once you have all your thirty-minute time slots put in your calendar, commit to the schedule for two weeks at the very least. In the two weeks that you have committed yourself to this, do the following:

  1. Put your calendar on a wall where you will see it (even if you have to print out a portion of your digital calendar).
  2. Start a diary on your computer or paper of what you have done in each thirty-minute block.
  3. Treat your blocks of time reverently, like this is the time that is for your health, and it is a life-or-death situation. I mean, it is, isn’t it? If we spend our lives thinking about what we could have done if we’d had more time, it is like a small death in that part of us that never gets to live. So treat this time like it is very precious. If you are supposed to be writing letters to people or applying for grants or anything else, do only that.
  4. Make an agreement with yourself that you will not check email or Facebook or anything unrelated to your task during this time.
  5. If you get stuck, or feel like you can’t do something, then read this chapter over again and do some research. Even if you are not writing or working directly on your topic, then do research on it, like which galleries or grants you are looking for or which ones are even out there!

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

Episode 128 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / This Is Your Life

This Is Your Life

After looking at your calendar, you know this is the way you have either planned it or what you default to if you are not thinking much about it. Most of us are not time planners, so the life we are living is a life by default, a life that seems to be of our choosing but in fact is very limited, because on default mode you don’t realize there is extra time you can control. The next step is to control that time. So take a look at the calendar again and think about what else you need time for. Is it spending time with friends? Family? Or do you need to take a vacation? Perhaps a weekend retreat? Or maybe you need more time for the studio or more time to go out to the theatre or see art shows at museums and galleries? Maybe more time to read books? Whatever it is, take the time to write down a list of these things (use the work- book). And write down all the things you wish you had more time for. Take your time and think about anything you would like to do more of.

Examining Your Time

Now that you have a list, look back at your calendar. There is a finite amount of time in every week, and now you are a time designer. There is no one that will do this job but you, and no one who can really advise you on the right way to spend your time but you. So start filling in that calendar because this day might change your life; this day might have you plant the seeds of your dreams—your ideal life—in rich soil that will make it all grow easily. Just this idea is a reason to celebrate, so go out and get yourself a present for getting this far and then come back and read the rest of what I have written!

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

Episode 127 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Time Management Techniques

Chapter 6

Time Management Techniques

In our lives, probably the most precious commodity we have is our own time. How to do more than one thing at a time, efficiently, and without stress is the goal of this chapter and workbook. This is probably the biggest hurdle for most artists who want to become more professional in how they look after their careers. Because the question is always “How much time do I have to spend doing this stuff?” Meaning how much time during each weekday do you need to spend on doing things like writing letters and contacting people and other things you would rather not do. There isn’t a specific amount of time at all; it is more about how you perceive all your time and how you can manage that in the same way that you would manage your eating habits. If you can’t manage your eating habits, there are all kinds of diets you could go on until you find the right one for you. It is not unlike that with time management. There are lots of techniques, and I will give you some here, but the important thing to recognize is that you want to change and are looking for a system. Just like dieting, you may not find the right method for yourself instantly, but if that is your goal, you will surely find it soon through trial and error.

Time Management

Changing Your Habits

Let’s begin with the basics because just like a diet, you are already using a time management system, and just like you have a diet that you are using but are not always conscious of, so it is with your current time management plan.

I suggest using a physical calendar, a paper calendar that you can write on, instead of an online one, but if you regularly use a computer application or an online calendar like iCal or Google Calendar, then please do.

First begin by blocking out all your time on your calendar. Start with sleep. Mark the times that you tend to fall asleep and wake up. If it is different on weekends, then mark them that way. Then look at your weekdays. If you are working, fill in all the hours you are working. If you are not working, fill in the hours describing what you are doing that occurs regularly. Perhaps you are walking the dog, volunteering somewhere, visiting friends, or making art, but describe it all on a recurring basis in your calendar. Then move to the weekends. Is there a regular event or class or a park that you tend to go to on weekends? If so, fill it out with that information.

Now you can look over your schedule and how it is occurring without doing anything else to it. This is the step where you should print out your electronic calendar or take a good look at the paper one you just filled out.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

Episode 126 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Fact-Finding

Fact-Finding

However, parts of this story were probably made up. Apparently, research shows there were no tartars in that area at that time. And furthermore, eyewitnesses say the pilot died shortly afterward, and Beuys was conscious and was taken to a hospital to recover for three weeks. Beuys was making his own myth about himself, and you can just as easily adopt this strategy even if you do not want to be a major figure in the art world as he was. Does that mean that you should make up a story about yourself? Possibly, but embellishment isn’t out of the question, and this is straightforward myth-making and self-aggrandizement at  that.

The point I am making with this example is that your statement can also begin to create a myth about yourself—that is, a fictional story that is mixed with the truth. If this appeals to you, then use it and experiment, and if it doesn’t, use one of the other methods. The point of an artist’s statement is simply to get the attention of the person you are showing work to or the institution that you are applying to for a grant, or for your average juried show. No matter which it is, it is important to make your- self stand out and look different from others who are competing with you.

More on the Critic

As I said earlier, the New York art critic Jerry Saltz has a Facebook page, and at one point, he offered to edit people’s writing if they posted their artist’s statements. On his page, he said an artist’s statement should be

[written] in plain language. Keep it short, simple, to the point. Use your own syntax; write the way you speak. No platitudes! With giant abstractions (“nature,” “beauty,” “ambiguity”) say what you’re doing with these big things. Or AVOID . . . them. Don’t be afraid to be funny/weird, your stupid self! A glimpse of real self is powerful.

He is affirming much of what we are saying here, that you need to be straightforward to a large extent, and that you need to be clear. But what he is not saying is that you can also break the rules, as Beuys did, and make a story up that is compelling, edgy, and effective.

Editorial Help

I am not saying you should not seek the help of an editor. All writers use editors, and even a friend who is a good writer can be of assistance.

After you finish your statement, show it to someone who will give you their honest opinion. Show it to someone who knows nothing about the arts; show it to a child, and examine the responses you get. The statement should be understood easily by almost everyone. If it is difficult to understand, then something is wrong and should be adjusted. Ideally, it should also be very exciting or engaging so that it is memorable and makes one want to see the work.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.